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Saturday, July 08, 2006

World Cup of Coffee: The Final Matches

I'm still on vacation and have limited time, but I wanted to weigh in on the final matches. I will have a final World Cup of Coffee reflection in the days following the final. For now: It's been quite a month of matches, surprises, refereeing controversies et al at the World Cup. Italy and France remain standing, and wouldn't it be interesting to know the percentage of brackets that had these two in their final! France looked vulnerable against Portugal, who just couldn't finish off one of their number of chances. England must rue their inability to score, because basically Portugal went two matches without a goal (even with a man advantage against England). Still, Barthez looked a little shaky and France a little tired. It wasn't near the effort we saw against Spain and Brazil. Italy continues to defend ruthlessly while threatening on the counterattack. The two Fabios--Grosso and Cannavaro--came up huge once again against Gemany. First a quick word about today's third place match...

These third-place matches are always hard to predict because there isn't as much motivation and because teams often sit regulars and give others a chance to taste the World Cup. Still, I like Germany to win because as hosts they will want a nice send-0ff for the German people, who by all accounts have put on an impressive World Cup. Oliver Kahn is in goal today for Germany. Let's go with Germany 2 Portugal 0.

Will we see the authoritative France who manhandled Brazil in the midfield and stunned Spain or the tired France we saw clinging to a win over Portugal? I know the story here is Zidane, but he wasn't quite as effective in the last match (despite coolly converting the penalty) and the number of matches played must be catching up with him. I think they need Henry and Ribery to step up and score , but that won't be easy against the best defense in the Cup. I really like Italy in this match. I feel like their attacking fullbacks will give France problems and they will punish France on the counterattack. Barring a Henry wonder goal, I think France will struggle to score. Cannavaro is marshalling that Italian defense with authority. The Italian midfield will not be controlled by Zidane. Italy will finish the opportunities Portugal created but couldn't convert. And Barthez is due for a disaster in goal. Maybe I'm underestimating France, but I just feel like it's a matter of match-ups. Italy is the kind of team that can give France problems. I look for Italy 1 France 0.

What do you think?

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