Monday, July 10, 2006


Unfortunately, I clearly remember the penalties from the 1994 World Cup Final, the penalties which resulted in Italy bowing out to a stronger Brazilian team after Roberto Baggio's famous miss. As extra time began waning away in last night's Final, the nervous tension of the Italian fans at Seven (a pub on Yaffo Street) started to increase steadily. Since 1990, Italy has been eliminated from the World Cup through the dreaded penalty shootout three times. In 1990, Argentina did the honors while the aforementioned Brazilians delivered the cruel blow in 1994. Les Bleus were the guilty party in 1998, sending the Italians home after a quarter finals shoot out. However, this time history would thankfully not be repeating itself. A 'German' like efficiency in the penalty shoot out would lead Italy to a memorable 5-3 penalty shoot out win, their 4th triumpth in the tournament (Italy were also crowned world champions in 1934, 1938 and 1982). A fantastic achievement for a team many overlooked at the tournament's beginning, despite their highly rated head coach (Lippi) and a squad full of Serie A stars.

A few thoughts from the game:

When I saw Fabio Grosso approaching to take the 5th and decisive penalty kick, I knew we had won. This was the same lad who Lucas Neill brought down in the dying seconds in the 2nd Round against Australia to win the deciding penalty, the same lad who scored a quite stunning game winning goal against Germany in the 119th minute of the Semi Final against Germany. Failure wasn't an option for this Palermo based player. And as he struck it sweetly into the right hand corner, he had further cemented his spot in Italian footy folklore. What a sudden rise to stardom by this youngster - congratulazioni!

What a black mark on one my generation's greatest talents. The best player on the European continent since Johan Cruyff, Zinedine Zidane ended his storied career with a sickening head butt to Marco Materazzi's chest and a rightful red card. It's a black mark on a fantastic career that saw this maestro dominate in Serie A with Juventus and in La Liga with Real Madrid. Zizou's tricks, remarkable passing ability and uncanny ability to score critical goals (2 goals in the 1998 World Cup Finals and the only goal in the 2002 European Champions League final) will be missed. Merci pour les mémoires ...


The winning squad:
1 Gianluigi Buffon
12 Angelo Peruzzi
14 Marco Amelia
2 Cristian Zaccardo
5 Fabio Cannavaro
6 Andrea Barzagli
13 Alessandro Nesta
22 Massimo Oddo
23 Marco Materazzi
3 Fabio Grosso
4 Daniele De Rossi
8 Gennaro Gattuso
16 Mauro German Camoranesi
17 Simone Barone
20 Simone Perrotta
19 Gianluca Zambrotta
21 Andrea Pirlo
7 Alessandro Del Piero
9 Luca Toni
10 Francesco Totti
11 Alberto Gilardino
15 Vincenzo Iaquinta
18 Filippo Inzaghi


gillushj said...

Felicidades Mr. Piha.
Thanks for mentioning my Dutch friend Johan :o)

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