Tuesday, July 04, 2006

France stun Brazil.

France 1-0 Brazil.

Who actually expected this result? Admittedly France have suddenly come into some form in the last game against Spain, and Brazil never looked like the awesome team they could be, however the consensus was that they have the flair and the personnel to take them past France. The consensus was wrong.

The game itself was actually a little disappointing. Up until France scored in the early part of the second half there was little action of note. France were the better team in the first period but didn't have the clear opportunities to show for it. In fact both sides created few efforts. Malouda had a header that went over from a Zidane free kick, there were a few free kicks and moments from both sides, but whilst it was a fascinating encounter goalscoring opportunities were indeed a rare commodity. France also had an appeal for a penalty for handball turned down, it instead resulting in a free kick - replays show a penalty may have been more appropriate.

France's goal: A free kick floated in from deep on the left, from Zidane, eluded everyone only to find an unmarked Henry ghosting in at the back post and volleying forcefully home, leaving Dida with no chance. After this point Brazil attacked a lot more. With the talent they have it is such a shame that their attacking verve was not present from the offset. But even then the chances were either not great, or were not attempted with the precision one would expect. Ze Roberto whipped in a dangerous cross-cum-shot that Barthez had to be alert to, Robinho had a great chance but sliced miles wide. In the dying minutes and seconds Brazil became more desperate and Ronaldinho fired a free kick narrowly over after a tricky Ronaldo run was brought to a premature halt. Ronaldo also had a long range effort forcing the Barthez save. Space opened up at the other end for france to finish off, Zidane setting up Saha who's finish was disappointing.

France thoroughly deserved their win. They were excellent. After a faltering group stages in which they found goalscoring difficult, they lacked sharpness, and almost were eliminated, France have looked sublime at times in the knockout stages. Zidane was immense throughout the match. So many amazing touches, always the one to set up the shots, the one with the vision, and the great free kicks. In the second half Henry and Ribery also troubled with their pace, Ribery almost finishing off a lovely move, only for Dida to clutch the ball on the edge of the area. Yes Zidane was spectacular. The oldies had combined well in the game. Can they do so another two times and bring Jules Rimet home, and cap off a marvellous Zidane career?


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