Friday, July 07, 2006

The World Cup Final

Though I'm darn glad it is both Italy and France that reached the final, I'm undecided as to who to root for now. The Italians have Italian style - and they're our coalition partners. And the French have (or at least had during that France-Brazil match) that certain je ne sais quoi.

And, it appears, that the bookmakers are also undecided.

Sunday's World Cup final between Italy and France is so delicately poised that not even the bookmakers can make their minds up over who should be favourites.

Italy, seeking their fourth triumph, have conceded only one goal, have class in every area of their well-balanced team and a spirit that has grown from the belief that the rest of the world is out to get them.

That is enough to make them the most marginal of favourites in the eyes of most oddsmakers but, in a rarely seen situation for such a high profile sporting event, others have been seduced by France's remarkable turnaround and rate the 1998 winners as more likely to triumph in Berlin.

While Italy point to fate as they have reached the final every 12 years since 1970, France are dreaming of a fairytale finale for Zinedine Zidane who will retire afterwards aged 34 regardless of the result.
Paul, at Powerline, has an interesting analysis of the play in the German-Italy semi-final, ascribing Italy's win to the introduction of forwards through substitutions in expectation that the match would resolve through penalty kicks. Instead, this tactic led to two goals in the last few minutes of overtime play.

One wonders whether the Italian coach will take a lesson from that earlier on in the game, and not rely so hard on defensive players.

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