Wednesday, July 05, 2006

04th July 2006

La parete italiana (The Azzurri wall) vs Die deutsche Unerfahrenheit (The German inexperience)

The first semi-final of the 2006 FIFA World Cup was much anticipated. It pitted two of the World Cup greats, former Champions, and experienced stalwarts.

The Germans came into the semi-finals on a high. They had been performing really well, playing attacking, entertaining football throughout the tournament. In all they had scored 11 goals and conceeded 3. There were however, somethings that were going against them. They had just played a very tiring game against the Argentinians which went all the way to Penalties. There were also missing Frings who was suspended for the semi-final.

The Italians came into the semi-finals also on a high. Their form had been rising as they progressed through the competition, winning all their games, barring one. They had scored just 9 goals and conceeded just one. There main problem was that they were missing Nesta in the heart of the defense. Another point of consideration was that Gattuso was on a yello card, and one more in this game would make him miss the finals, if Italy got through. So would this thought hamper his game?

The Germans were starting as favourites, because the "12th man" (the German crowd) was suppossed to be of great help. Lehmann, was hailed as having the "hands of god", keeping out the Argentineans in the Penalties. The German team could do no wrong in the eyes of their supporters. The Italian public was very expectant of their team, which was suddenly scoring goals and just not grinding out 1-0 victories.

The 1st Half:
The 1st half belonged completely to the Italians. They were all over the German defense, which was showing signs of cracking under consistent pressure. The Italians were playing on the counter attack, and the Germans were finding it had to get past the Italian defense, and even keep possession of the ball.

The 2nd Half:
The 2nd half was all Germany. They came out with an attacking perspective and got down to work immediately. There were a couple of good substitutions made by Klinsmann, bringing in Odonker and Schweinstiger. Odonker was pacy and was suddenly breaching the defense. But Cannavaro was the General in defense, marshaling his troops and leading from the front. The Italians did manage to keep the Germans out for the 2nd half...and seemed to be playing comfortably and with a plan.

Extra Time:
The 1st half of extra time was similar to the 2nd half of normal time but was more fast paced because the players were tiring. The 2nd half of extra time proved decisive, with the Italians clinching the match in the dying minutes. In the 119th minute, Grosso, curled a wonderful left footed shot into the corner of the goal, beating a desperately diving Lehmann. After that, Germany came on the attack, and Italy scored the 2nd goal in the 121st minute, a simple lob by Del Piero over Lehmann's head.

Game OVER! Germany knocked out. Italy through to the finals. No one talks about the 3rd/4th place playoff, because the final is yet to be played!

I think the game was very well refreed. He kept a close watch on the happenings on the field, and did not show an exhuberance to show cards for the smallest of offenses.


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