Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Semi-Final Wrap Up: My Cop Outs were better than my prediction

Man, a very good game here. Again, I'm still spoiled by the Netherlands vs. the Czech Republic in the 2004 Euro. My idea of what constitutes a great game was shifted radically by that game, and had I watched this Semi without having seeing that game, I might have been inclined to call this a great game.

Great goalkeeping, unsurprisingly, from Buffon and Lehmann. Great officiating, too. The Italians tested the referee early, flopping early, and then giving up, for the most part, and playing well. This game provided plenty of evidence why a 0-0 tie in regulation isn't necessarily boring--shots were sent sizzling over the crossbar, there were many near misses on crosses, and again, terrific stops from the netminders. The worst part of the game was Balboa, who on one occasion, really really confused me as to whether we were watching the same game. To the point that I wondered if a pointed to a round patch of blue fabric, he wouldn't confidently announce that it was clearly a square patch of red fabric. But if that is one's biggest complaint about a game, that means the game itself was pretty sweet.

And I suggested in my preview that a really late goal was a possibility, as Italians would want to avoid PK's, and the Germans might be tired, and that's basically exactly what happened. Grosso's wickedly curving ball beat a faultless Lehmann, late in 2nd half of overtime, and only because the Germans were pushing so desperately for a tying goal, did the Italians score a second. That said, Gilardino's selflessness in stoppage time to lay off the ball when he could have shot himself was impressive. Giving up the ball to Del Piero should of course me a no brainer, but still, Gilardino could have easily shot himself. It would not have mattered, either way, as the final whistle would have blown in seconds regardless.

But Italy did what it had to to win, and Germany was just a minute away from doing what it had to to win. Germany dodged a couple of bullets in the first half of the overtime, when the Italians hit woodwork twice, but I think they might have been better off if the Italians had scored then, as opposed to the 119th minute. But great game. Even if you know the result, which you do, if you've read this, after all. I'd still watch the game, if you missed it. Very enjoyable.

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