OK, I'm a World Cup soccer convert | Rock Candy

OK, I'm a World Cup soccer convert

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I'm sorry it's over now. I could watch another month of it. I do wish the championship game was not decided by penalty kicks after two 15-minute overtimes.

France outplayed Italy all over the field in the second half Sunday, but alas failed to get a ball in the goal in that time, Zidane's header going straight at Buffon, the Italian goalkeeper, instead of being headed toward the corner. Easy for me to say, it was still a great play -- great plays on the part of the pass, the header and the save.

The whole 120 minutes and the penalty kick session were riveting. It was athleticism at its finist. My hero is now Thierry Henry (ahn-ree, the pronunciation for your locals), the French forward, who was dazzling in his moves. He looked like Dwyane Wade on the pitch (the "field" for you locals). Even struggling with a hamstring injury, we were wondering later, and during the penalty kick session, if he should have been subbed out. That ostrich playing for Italy, what a terrific player as well, and a beautiful header to tie the game at 1.

I learned in the past couple of weeks that a 0-0 soccer game can be a thing of beauty, not a boring bunch of nothinness. We saw 118 minutes of 0-0 on July 4 before the Italians broke the Germans heart in the semifinals.

You see no 6-4, 330-pounders going up and down the field in soccer. In fact, you see nary a fat man, not a fat referee, not even a fat sidejudge, or a fat coach. I loved hearing the French fans on Sunday at various times starting up another rendition of "La Marseilaise." I loved the emotion of the Italians for the 30 minutes that followed the penalty kick victory and the awarding of the medals and trophy. I loved it that everybody left it all on the field, going up and down that field for two hours. I just hated that it was all decided on the penalty kicks. Maybe a better way to decide this, if they weren't going to play overtime after overtime until it's decided, is to credit time of possession in the offensive end, the way Texas high school football ties are broken by total first downs, and then by yardage. This is like a basketball game being decided by 10 free throws each after two overtimes don't determine a winner, or the Super Bowl going to kicks by each team's field goal kicker until they miss.

I still want to know: What was Zidane of France thinking when he headbutted his 100-plus minute Italian nemesis? I do think it was a pretty good flop on the Italian's part, not unlike the charges you see big Duke forwards take in basketball from little guards, as if they've been hit by a Mack.

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