Posts Tagged ‘World Cup 2006’


June 9, 2010 Leave a comment

Way bigger than the Olympics.

The Super Bowl doesn’t come close.

The best part about going to the World Cup for a month in 2006 was that is was like going to a huge international party. Germany was the host, and everywhere you went it was party atmosphere. Munich. Nuremburg. Dortmund. Berlin. And everywhere else in between. You could hang out with Ecuadorians in the plaza in front of the Koln Cathedral, or you could dance with Angloans in Frankfurt. And when we left Germany briefly to visit Prague, we partied with the Dutch at the main plaza in the city center.

If the US team plays to their ability, we can advance to the 2nd round. Let’s hope Oguchi Onyewu is healthy, and that we don’t miss Brian Ching too much. I think Buddle, Gomez and Robbie Findley (GO BEAVS!) will pick up the slack in case Altidore, Donovan and Dempsey aren’t firing on all cylinders. Watching Dempsey score against Ghana in Nuremburg in 2006 was absolutely CRAZY! I was hoarse for days afterward. (Sorry, not worth $56 to upgrade my account in order to upload my video.)

Ghanians in Nurenburg

Singing for the USA

Witnessing the USA draw 1-1 against eventual champions Italy in Kaiserslautern with only 9 men was one of the most impressive displays of team unity that I have seen by the US team. Keller’s stop on Del Piero in the waning minutes made the house come down! Best save of the tournament.

Keller saves from Del Piero at point blank range

I can’t wait for World Cup 2010 to begin. There’s going to be way too many games to possibly watch — not that we won’t try. I am suddenly feeling the remorse for not buying tickets to South Africa. What a mistake! (Plus, you never know who you are going to run into at the airport.)

Ronaldinho and Adriano heading home to Brazil

But *THE BEST* soccer moment was being in the stands in Dortmund when Ronaldo broke the all-time World Cup scoring record that had stood for over 30 years.

Ronaldo scores #15

Or you can watch it HERE.


The Karmic Justice of World Cup 2006

June 7, 2010 6 comments

Italy was the best team at the UEFA European Football Championship 2000.

Maybe you don’t know, or maybe you do, that every 4 years they have the Football (Soccer) Championship of Europe. It’s like the World Cup, but it only includes the teams from Europe…and it’s offset by 2 years from the World Cup. So, we had the World Cup 2006 in Germany, and then the European Football Championship in 2008 in Austria/Switzerland, and then the World Cup 2010 in South Africa.

At the 2000 European Championship, Italy was the best team, although they lost the final game to France. France had been beaten by the Netherlands earlier in the tournament. France was completely outclassed. And, it took a very controversial penalty kick awarded to France against Portugal in their semi final game for France to even make the final game.

Meanwhile, Italy were a revelation. Somehow they came out of their naturally defensive shell. They attacked teams, reveling in their newly found freedom. They scored lots of goals, and they played wonderful soccer. In the other semi final, Italy played with 10 men against the same Netherlands team that had previously beaten France. Italy were a man down for most of the game, but still played inspired football and won.

And the Final match was brilliant…almost. Italy were doing everything right – absolutely outplaying France – except they just couldn’t score a goal. Del Piero had three breakaways…but he didn’t score even one of them. If ever a team was lucky to be hanging on by the collective skins of their teeth, it was France in the first half of the Euro 2000 Final.

The second half started, and Italy scored a goal. Finally! I remember breathing a huge sigh of relief. Finally, finally, they made all of their dominance pay off. France tried to break through the Italian defense, but they just couldn’t do it. As the game neared the end, I was so happy for Paolo Maldini. This guy is one of my soccer heroes. He had been so close to winning a major International tournament, but had never quite done it, losing in the final in 1994 World Cup and the semi finals of the 1990 World Cup on penalties.

But it was not to be.

In the 95th minute of the game, well into extra time, French forward Silvain Wiltord took a hopeful shot on goal, and it took a wicked deflection. It wrong-footed the Italian goalkeeper, and trickled into the goal. The game was tied. France would go on to win in extra time. Italy was totally wasted after having two 120 minute games in a row, and unfortunately the wind came out of their sails after missing so many chances in the first half. Ultimately they couldn’t bounce back from the late lucky shot that tied the game.

It was horrible. Yes, sometimes luck plays its part in sporting events, and in the Euro 2000 Final, France got lucky.

But fast-forward to 2006, where these same teams met in the World Cup Final in Berlin. Many of the same players that had played against each other in 2000 were on the field again. (Unfortunately, Paolo Maldini had resisted repeated requests from the coach to play on the 2006 World Cup team for Italy, and was not on the team.)

Your probably know the story of World Cup 2006 Final. The teams were tied after regular time 1-1. If you go back and watch the highlights , try to find the foul that was called to award France a penalty kick and score their only goal of the game. I still can’t see one. Then, Zinedine Zidane lost the plot, was thrown out of his final game for France after head-butting an Italian player, and the rest is history. Italy won the World Cup!

Some say that France was a better team in the 2006 World Cup Final. I happen to agree that they played very well. France with Zinedine Zidane is one of the best soccer teams to ever play on Planet Earth. If they had a weakness in 2006, it was with scoring goals. But as the final game wore on, France looked the likeliest to score and win the game in extra time.

So what made Zizu do it? What made the greatest player of his footballing generation head-butt an opposing player and effectually end France’s hopes of lifting the World Cup just when they appeared poised to win the game?

It was Karma, baby. Karma left over from Euro 2000 final, that France won against a superior Italian team on a lucky desperation shot in the final second that happened to be deflected the right way into the net. You can try to cheat Karma on the soccer field, but it finally caught up with France in World Cup 2006.