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Tuesday, July 04, 2006

7/4 World Cup of Coffee: Semifinal Edition

Greetings from the Outerbanks, where the Applejack Clan is gathered for a reunion. My internet access hasn't been good here, but I'll do what I can. I'm going to assess both semifinal games today in case I can't get on-line tomorrow. As usual, the comment section will be open for discussion. First, a quick word about the quarters...
I feel sorry for France. Sounds strange after beating Spain and Brazil, doesn't it? After all, they played spectucularly against Brazil--they dominated the midfield and got a world-class goal from Thierry Henry. Zidane was magical after looking like a shell of his former self against the Swiss and Koreans. I believe it was Gurufrisbee who commented how unexpected this was considering France's dismal performance in their first two group matches. I originally had France in the final and have been lamenting it since their poor start. Europe really flexed their muscles in the quarters. The reason I feel sorry for France is that if they reach the final, they will surely do so without some key players. That's because they play the worst floppers/whiners/foulers in the tournament in Portugal. Don't get me wrong, Portugal has some great talent and can put on a show at times. But to me, their antics have tarnished this Cup. Nevertheless, England deserved to go out. Rooney lost his head, it seems, and their inability to make penalties (Gerrard and Lampard!?) along with their failure to finish off an attack doomed them. Great performance from Owen Hargreaves, however. OK, on to the semis...

GERMANY vs. ITALY
Some may think Germany will have an easier time with Italy than a power like Argentina. I disagree. I think Italy is exactly the type of team that can shut down the Germans, who by the way will be missing All-Name Team star Torsten Frings due to suspension from that postmatch scuffle with Argentina. Italy will be very comfortable at the back, their counterattack will give a now-undermanned German defense problems. I think they will disrupt the Germans' attack. I suspect Ballack is running out of gas and playing injured. It's been a sensational run for Germany. If it goes to penalties, you know who to take. But despite the fact Germany will probably win 3-0, I'll go with Italy 2-1.

FRANCE vs. PORTUGAL
How can you bet against Zidane and the '98 vets after dispatching of Spain and Brazil? I'm not. Portugal could easily win this game, however. They get Deco back and could easily put a goal or two on the board. They will flop and foul, disrupting the flow of the French attack. But I'm starting to feel destiny's at work here. Zidane shines and Henry scores once again in a French victory by the same score as they beat Brazil. France 1 Portugal 0.

Hope everyone celebrating the 4th has a great day.

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