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The story of the 2006 World Cup

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Chris Bevan | 13:51 UK time, Thursday, 3 June 2010

Ahead of the start of the World Cup, we have been looking back at previous tournaments with the help of some of the key characters and the BBC's archive footage. In today's final installment, the focus is really only ever on one man...

Germany, June and July, 2006

Outside of Italy at least, I'm pretty sure there is only one image that springs to mind when people recall the 2006 World Cup in Germany - and it isn't Azzurri captain Fabio Cannavaro lifting the famous trophy.

Sadly for France legend Zinedine Zidane, one of the greatest footballers of his and any generation, the crazed head-butt that sent Marco Materazzi flying - and saw Zidane sent off - near the end of extra-time in the final is what that game, this tournament, and ultimately his career is best remembered for.

Despite the global focus on the incident, what's notable is how long it took to get to the bottom of what sent Zidane over the edge. Several lip-readers gave their version of events, as did numerous email virals that were sent in the aftermath (some of them are quite funny too) but the truth proved difficult to pin down.

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Materazzi always claims to have insulted Zidane's sister but, after many months of silence, Zidane revealed earlier this year that it was comments about his mother that caused him to lose the plot, adding he "would rather die" than say sorry to the Inter Milan defender.

"If I ask him forgiveness, I lack respect for myself and for all those I hold dear with all my heart," Zidane stated. "I apologise to football, to the fans, to the team. After the game, I went into our dressing room and told my team-mates 'forgive me' but to him I cannot, never. It would be to dishonour me."

Zidane's meltdown, and Italy's victory in the penalty shoot-out that followed shortly afterwards, ensured a dramatic end to a World Cup that had begun with a bang exactly a month earlier when, six minutes into the opening game, Philipp Lahm found the top corner of the net with a stunning long-range shot that sent the hosts on their way to a 4-2 win over Costa Rica.

Early on, it looked like we were in store for a classic tournament. That Lahm strike was the first of many crackers in an entertaining group stage that saw only five goalless draws in 48 matches as teams, for the most part, went on the attack.

Personal favourites were little Bakari Kone's solo effort for the Ivory Coast against the Netherlands and Esteban Cambiasso's fine finish for Argentina against Serbia and Montenegro (not forgetting, of course, the 24 passes that preceded it) but I actually had time on my hands to savour pretty much every one of the 117 goals that flew in before the knock-out rounds began, not to mention the three yellow cards dished out to Croatia's Josip Simunic by Graham Poll in their match with Australia.

This was a tournament I had a fairly unique perspective on, having suffered a double-broken leg playing football the week before it began (yes, I know I've got to stop banging on about it!). To be honest, while I am not recommending that any of you should deliberately sustain a serious injury before the action in South Africa starts on 11 June, if it is going to happen, then a World Cup month is probably the best time.

One of the advantages of being laid out in hospital and then immobile at home was that, despite often being in excruciating pain thanks to the amount of metal that had been inserted into the aforementioned limb, I got to watch the World Cup without almost any other distractions. In fact, it kept me sane - especially during the early stages when I had three games a day to take my mind off my rehabilitation, followed by Adrian Chiles' friendly face to wrap things up with the highlights at the end of the evening.

Sadly, the goals dried up once we were down to the last 16 teams, with managers adopting increasingly conservative tactics, but there were one or two exceptions. Argentina and Mexico fought out a classic, settled by Maxi Rodriguez's thunderbolt, and hosts Germany, riding a wave of public fervour and led by charismatic coach Jurgen Klinsmann, kept up their dynamic approach on their way as they beat Sweden to reach the last eight.

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There was far less verve surrounding England, whose stuttering progress to the quarter-finals had been largely overshadowed by the antics of the team's WAGS, whose shopping and socialising in Baden-Baden dominated the papers back home. It was here that their campaign would be ended by Portugal amid controversy, and in all-too familiar circumstances.

The controversy came when Wayne Rooney was dismissed for a stamp on Ricardo Carvalho, with Cristiano Ronaldo encouraging referee Horacio Elizondo to send off his then Manchester United club-mate. Then, at the end of a tense 0-0 draw, came another defeat in a penalty shoot-out, with Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher all having spot-kicks saved by Ricardo as Portugal clinched a 3-1 win.

While David Beckham was vilified for his dismissal at France '98, this time the ire on these shores was directed not at Rooney, but at Ronaldo - who appeared to wink at the Portuguese bench after Elizondo produced the red card. "I didn't really get any stick," the England striker said recently. "It could have been a lot worse. Ronaldo took a lot of it and I was pleased about that."

Elsewhere, holders Brazil also under-achieved, crashing out to France, while Argentina's defeat to Germany - again on penalties - ensured the semi-finals would be all-European affairs. The first was arguably the match of the tournament, if only for some thrilling action in extra-time as Italy - who had a spot-kick record as woeful as England's - strived to avoid another shoot-out.

Marcello Lippi's side were far more acclaimed for their defensive play - conceding just two goals during the whole tournament - but they showed how much quality they had going forward too with brilliant late goals from Fabio Grosso and Alessandro del Piero that took them into a showdown with France, who edged past Portugal thanks to Zidane's penalty.

The final itself will, of course, always be dominated by Zidane's shocking departure but before then it had been an open and entertaining game that saw goals from both of its most famous protagonists. Afterwards, France held on to force only the second shoot-out in a World Cup final but Italy, who had lost the first one to Brazil in 1994, were not to be denied and all five of their penalties were successful, with Grosso's proving decisive.

As his players celebrated, an emotional Lippi, the former Juventus boss who had been questioned as part of the match-fixing scandal that had rocked his country weeks before the tournament began, said: "The players have showed unlimited heart, character and personality. Winning the World Cup is the greatest satisfaction that any coach or footballer can ever feel, and this is the most satisfying moment of my life. How do I feel? It's special. beyond what words can really address."

Lippi stepped down after that triumph but returned to the post in 2008 and he will be in charge of the Azzurri as they defend their title this summer in South Africa.

Watch the top ten goals from the 2006 World Cup (UK only)
Watch Germany's stylish win in the opening match (UK only)
Watch Graham Poll's yellow card blunder (UK only)
Watch Argentina's six-star display against Serbia and Montenegro (UK only)
Watch France progress past Spain (UK only)
Watch Italy break the hosts' hearts in the semi-final (UK only)
Watch the dramatic final with Zidane's red card and Italy's victory (UK only)


It's been a pleasure for Stevo and I to look back at the past 11 World Cups, and to read about all your memories, but the forthcoming tournament gives us lots to look forward to, too. Whoever ends up lifting the trophy at Johannesburg's Soccer City stadium on 11 July, let's hope for plenty more magical moments to enjoy.

The 2010 World Cup begins next Friday when hosts South Africa take on Mexico at 1500 BST.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    What about what was possiby the most entertaining game of all time? The Battle of Neurumberg? Surely that should get a mention as it was a thriller! Even people who don't like football watched it!

  • Comment number 2.

    I really enjoyed the 2006 World Cup. My enduring memory of it will be Joe Cole's brilliant strike against Sweden in the group stages, and walking into the house, turning on the TV and seeing Lahm hit a great goal. Hopefully the next world cup in 8 days will be even better!

  • Comment number 3.

    Why did we have an Argentine ref for the England game? It's just not on. An Figo escaped a red card in the previous round for a headbutt. (Not quite Zidane, but still a headbutt). The ref was never going to send Rooney off until Ronaldo came over, because refs immediately take out the card after blowing the whistle and pointing, they don't just stand there. But the worst decision for me has to be when Carragher scored his penalty and was made to retake it - even though the referee had clearly BLOWN HIS WHISTLE before he took the kick. Then when he put it in, Ricardo decided he wasn't ready and the ref conveniantly agreed with him. Wouldn't happen to any other country but England, unless that country was playing Brazil or the the hosts.

    The Italy-Germany semi has to be my favourite game, real tension and atmosphere but quality football as well and a fitting end. Best goals were Rodrigues vs Mexico, Joe Cole vs Sweden and Cambiasso vs Serbia and Montenegro. I would put those 3 in the top 10 of all time World Cup goals.

    Thought the Final was really dramatic for obvious reasons, and the best since 86. Aside from Zidane's headbutt we saw an early goal from him with that cheeky penalty and ironically it was Materazzi who equalised. The penalties were strange as well, Italy actually won which I couldn't believe, Trezeguet who got the Golden goal vs Italy in Euro 2000 missed whilst Del Piero scored - who missed several good chances in that very 2000 final.

  • Comment number 4.

    The controversy came when Wayne Rooney was dismissed for a stamp on Ricardo Carvalho, with Cristiano Ronaldo encouraging referee Horacio Elizondo to send off his then Manchester United club-mate.

    4 years still blaming Ronaldo, this is why Rooney got sent off...note Rooney stomps Carvalho on below the belt...

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]
    ...and what do we have here players in England encouraging refs to show the red card...

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

    "I didn't really get any stick," the England striker said recently. "It could have been a lot worse. Ronaldo took a lot of it and I was pleased about that."

    STOMPING PLAYERS ONE BELOW THE BELT, BAD EXAMPLE FOR KIDS

    HAPPY NOT TO GET ANY STICK...FEELING GUILTY !????

  • Comment number 5.

    That Holland Portugal was fantastic. I went through all the cards at the time and frankly the ref was too lenient, more players could've gone off. Australia Crotia was probably game of the tournament, but the Battle of Nuremburg was just so perversely good to watch.

  • Comment number 6.

    Take a look closely at the sending off of Rooney again please. Notice the referee does not react until Rooney 'shuvs' Ronaldo. Wayne Rooney did not get sent off for the so called 'stomp'... IT WAS A PUSH!
    Portugal were put through.

  • Comment number 7.

    Video of Sending off
    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 8.

    #3.keithwellerlounge74

    you have a great memory for stats. I'm glad someone else thought that the Italy Germany semi was one of the best games in the tournament. In italy the build up was looking back to the 1978 quater final where the 2 teams met and italy won 4-3 with most of the goals in extra time...Italy Germany always produces a shock but only cos we are scared of going to penalties with them.

    My memories of the tournament include watching Italy's quarters and semi at a mate hous and screaming loudly at the 2 late goals, keeping my friens's housemate up in the process. I think he had a 4am shift start the next day.
    ANd then i travelled to the final in Berlin and spent the day in the FanFest, awesome time. The fanfests were an amazing idea and i hope that the southafricans and brazilians are doing something similar at their world cups.

    One thing about the final. when Materazzi was lying on the floor most of the commentators and french players were complaining that he had gone down like Rivaldo in 2002 and that he was faking injury (quite plausible if you know Materazzi). I seem to remember that it took the TV people a good 5 minutes to produce a replay of what went on. It was quite surreal at the time and seemed like they didn't want to show what happened.

    As for Rooney. I still think it was an accident his foot to balls incident, but he made his name in the past for being a bit petulant so what can he expect. But Ronaldo getting him sent off??? i don't see it. Even if he did, its no worse than a dive for a penalty.

    Great world cup, excellent goals and some superb games in the group phase. The last world cup where the 'Old Guard'(28 years plus) of football players did well.
    I thik S Africa will be all about the Younger Stars making a name for themselves.

  • Comment number 9.

    Being a young aussie this was the first world cup in my liftime that I had a team to support. Could not believe the Aus V Croatia refereeing farce. Not only were 3 yellows handed out to simunic, he also completed a text book rugby tackle on his ex Australian Institute of Sport team mate Mark Viduka, which should have resulted in a penalty. Emerton received a very soft yellow card meaning he missed the game against Italy which allowed his opposite number, Grosso, the freedom to roam during that game ultimately causing our demise. Schwartzer had been dropped by Hiddink for the Croatia game and replaced by Kalac (Another of the aussie-croatian brigade) Who ended up being at fault for both of croatias goals, rumours are still rife about that over here. Watching the games at midnight and 4am down by the harbour with thousands of others was unforgetable and will be lining up to do the same again this time round.

  • Comment number 10.

    Germany '06 was not a very exciting tournament for me. I simply cant explain why but somehow it wasnt. France '98 has to remain second to Spain '82 which was classic. Korea/Japan 02 and Italia '90 are the worst.anyone agrees with me?

  • Comment number 11.


    @ no. 6 Jack Nixon

    Wayne Rooney did not get sent off for the so called 'stomp'... IT WAS A PUSH!
    Portugal were put through.

    So are you suggesting that players are allowed to push players?

    Is this not punishable with a red card (pushing)...

    ...and if so why blame Ronaldo?

    England lost.

  • Comment number 12.

    @9

    Kalac at fault for the first goal? You're having a laugh. Srna's free kick was inch-perfect, Inspector Gadget would have struggled to keep it out.

  • Comment number 13.

    I'd agree with a previous post that Korea/Japan 2002 was the worst - stadiums left half empty at times, South Korea being guided through to the semis in ridiculous fashion, felt more like some exhibition tournament than a world cup. Was just inferior to the other classic tournaments. On Italia 90 though - I know there was a lot of defensive football but everything about that tournament was just so much fun and there are so many memorable moments from that tournament.

    Anyhow - as for 2006, as an Azzurri fan it obviously has a special place in my heart but I would acknowledge that the knockout stages didnt deliver fully on the early promise. That said there were some crackers in the knockout stages, with Germany-Italy being game of the tournament for me. The tension in that game was incredible and Grosso's goal remains a classic world cup moment.

    Italy were deserved world champions in that tournament, adopting the old siege mentality with the Italian football crisis - I think something like 7 different Italy strikers scored as well with it being a victory for a squad with great depth.

    England were awful in the 2006 world cup though, and what everybody forgets is that the team had to basically cheat to beat Trinidad and Tobago, had absolutely dire and disgracefully boring games against Paraguay and Ecuador and despite not being great either that tournament, I think Portugal did the neutral a big favour in that tournament. And in getting rid of Sven, they probably did England a favour too!!

  • Comment number 14.

    It was a pretty dire world cup, everyone would have already forgotten about the final if it wasn't for Zizi's headbutt!! can anyone remember anything else about?? because I can't

    For me the Italy team that won it has to go down as the worst team to win the world cup

  • Comment number 15.

    The last two World Cups have been disappointing in my opinion. 2006 started off promisingly with some decent group stage games but the knockout stages were pretty dull. The one bright spot was Zidane - like an old boxing champion finding one last performance when everyone else thought he was washed up, he stamped his class all over the tournament, showing some of the young pretenders he was still the top dog. And then the head butt...tragic but also befitting of a man who always played the game and lived his life by his own set of rules. The French people forgave him pretty quickly - I wonder what the reaction in England would have been if Rooney, Lampard, etc had done it.

    I thought Zidane was even better in 2006 than he was in 1998. It's rare that a player shines brightly at two World Cups. He will be the abiding memory of it for me.

    England were simply poor, and had gone backwards since 2002 and Euro 2004. Watching their games wasn't enjoyable in the slightest.

    Here's hoping for a better 2010...

    http://twoyellowcards.co.uk/

  • Comment number 16.

    My main memory of this World Cup was, rightly or wrongly, Zidanes headbutt. It was bizzare. Reminded me a little of Cantonas kung-fu kick. What is it about French footballers?

    Argentinas 22 pass goal against Serbia deserves a mention too. One of the best of all-time.

    As for England, I think it was a talanted side, who played extremely poorly and were led by a manager who couldn't get the best from them. Ericsson took four strikers, two of which were injured (Rooney and Owen) one was 17 and not even a striker (Walcott) and the other was Crouch! Our best performance was certainly the game we ultimatly lost, to Portugal. Even some of the Portuguese players admitted afterwards that England deserved to win on the balance of play. Once it goes to Pens though, we might as well not bother and just hand the other side the win. We have the ability to win shoot-outs (Rooney, Lampard, Gerrard etc aren't exactly bad penalty takers) but we don't have the bottle when it comes down to it.

  • Comment number 17.

    Who can forget Graham Poll's hat-trick as well. That is the three yellow cards he showed to Croatia's Josip Simunic in the Croatia v Australia game!

  • Comment number 18.

    Re: MeanwoodWhite

    I wouldn't say that Italian side were the worst ever. They had genuine world class players like Pirlo, Buffon and Cannavaro. They also had lots of average players too and certainly weren't the best in the tournament.

    My other memory of the final by the way also involves Zidane and his extremely cheeky penalty in normal time. What a player that guy was, he defined bottle.

  • Comment number 19.

    Surely Brazilian Ronaldo's surpassing the all-time World Cup goals tally in this tournament deserves a mention?

  • Comment number 20.

    #8
    The Italy/Germany game that ended 4-3 was in 1970, not 1978.

  • Comment number 21.

    I dont think 2006 was a good tournament football wise, too negative with few stand outs moments. England were just a joke throughout and it ended as it started. But I dont blame the WAGS I blame the media for over exposure on them, but as normal they avoided responsibility. The Germany - Italy game was excellent, has anybody seen on Youtube the clip of the German TV audience when Italy score the 2 late goals? - a must watch if you havent seen! Also the Portugal - Holland game was amazing for the all out war that broke out, but in between the carnage was a good game! Goals wise Joe Cole's v Sweden was the goal of the tournament for me, closely followed by Maxi for Argentina.

    But the final will be what we remember it for and the famous headbutt, I still say he should never have been sent off, as none of the on field officials saw the incident and the 4th (or 5th) official saw it on a monitor. The incident was clearly a red card, but he was done by TV which under FIFA rules was and still not allowed during the game.

    And finally - Rooney stomped on on Carvalho, in a fit of frustration - no debate there!

  • Comment number 22.

    I think Rooney was always going to get sent off for that stamp. We stuttered our way to the quarters that year especially after Owen's injury. My main worry is that Lampard, Gerrard and Carragher all missed penalties in that match and they may well be taking them again this time. Should have taken Hargreaves if only to put on the pitch with 1 minute to go so he can take one. I remember SAF doing that successfully with Anderson in the 2008 Champions League Final.

    Good blog on Rafa here by the way

    http://adampsb.blogspot.com/2010/06/red-ngone.html

  • Comment number 23.

    4. At 10:10pm on 03 Jun 2010, chucksavage7 wrote:
    The controversy came when Wayne Rooney was dismissed for a stamp on Ricardo Carvalho, with Cristiano Ronaldo encouraging referee Horacio Elizondo to send off his then Manchester United club-mate.

    4 years still blaming Ronaldo, this is why Rooney got sent off...note Rooney stomps Carvalho on below the belt...

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]
    ...and what do we have here players in England encouraging refs to show the red card...

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

    "I didn't really get any stick," the England striker said recently. "It could have been a lot worse. Ronaldo took a lot of it and I was pleased about that."

    STOMPING PLAYERS ONE BELOW THE BELT, BAD EXAMPLE FOR KIDS

    HAPPY NOT TO GET ANY STICK...FEELING GUILTY !????


    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I totally agree. The problem is The England world cup machine need someone to blame when it all goes wrong.

    Can anyone answer a few of these simple questions for me please?

    Q - Before rooney was sent off why didnt England score any goals?

    A - May I suggest it is because that they were not good enough. So there is one reason why they didnt get through.

    Q - If rooney had not stamped on his opponent's groin, would he have been sent off?

    A - No. If he did not lose his temper and stamp on his opponent there would have been no issue at all and the game would have continued at 11 men each.

    Q - Out of all the 'World Class' players you have - why was Hargreaves the only one capable of putting the ball in the net from 12yds? Gerrard, Lampard What happened there then?

    A - I think it is because they are not good enough . (I fully admit that JC was unlucky having to retake his penalty and then having it saved)

    So given the above questions and answers I find it bizzare that Ronaldo gets the blame for England going out at the 1/4finals.

    Personally I thought this tournament was brilliant. Holland V Portugal, Argentina V Mexico, Italy V Germany all brilliant, loved it!

  • Comment number 24.

    Am i missing something? i have been reading these WC build up blogs quite keenly since they began, and we seem to have skipped from France 98 to Germany 2006.

    Is this the Beeb's attempt to blot out Japan/Korea 2002, an oversight, or can someone link me to it?!

  • Comment number 25.

    #3, keithwellerlounge. Glad to see you've moved on and aren't harboring any bitterness! C'mon fella, I support England as much as anyone but I do get mildly amused by the burning sense of injustice that suddenly rises in so many fans whenever we get knocked out of a tournament. Of course Rooney deserved to get sent off. Of course we deserved to lose: if we can't produce a few players capable of hitting the net from 12 yards out then we can't really lay claim to being the best in the world.

    Here's looking forward to 2010. Just discovered today that we have the oldest squad in the tournament. Maybe some experience will help when it comes down to the shoot-out, but I wouldn't bet on it.

  • Comment number 26.

    Surely Brazilian Ronaldo's surpassing the all-time World Cup goals tally in this tournament deserves a mention?

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Yep living legend!

  • Comment number 27.

    The Cambiasso goal is the real positive highlight of the tournament. An extraordinary goal which should in reality be the greatest goal of all time. We humans like being nostalgic so the 4th Brazil goal in 1970 will always be #1.

    The tournament was very entertaining, I will never forget matches such as USA Vs Italy where an italian forward put a full roundhouse onto the US defender and then complained when he got sent off (and the US almost pulled off a huge upset). Croatia Vs Australia was also an excellent physical game.

    At the time I started to believe that '06 put forward new teams who could be much more successful in the future, not the Africans but rather teams such as USA, Australia who out performed themselves on very limited budgets. I am a firm believer that if either country decides that they want to win the competition in the next 30 years they can achieve it, their sporting pedigree is so strong anyway that making a success out of football is probably only a generation away.

    Unfortunately Zidane will always be remembered for the head-butt but people should not forget he was never a gentleman player (remember the red card in '98 which almost cost France very dearly).

  • Comment number 28.

    "For me the Italy team that won it has to go down as the worst team to win the world cup"

    Rubbish. They had some fantastic players, Buffon, Cannavaro, Zambrotta, Pirlo, Gattuso. Furthermore they were unbeaten for the best part of 2 years, and had won against Holland and thrashed Germany 4-1 before the tournament started. In addition over their 7 games they conceeded just 2 goals - one an unfortunate own goal the other a very dubious penalty (nobody ever mentions that though).

    England's 1966 team was hardly amazing either and certainly not the best side in the world in 1966.

  • Comment number 29.

    Most entertaining game from WC2006 has to be the Portugal Dutch match. Still remember the image of Deco & Van Bronchorst sitting on the steps watching the game after being sent off.

  • Comment number 30.

    Been a great series of blogs, thanks very much for that. Been great to remember all the WC's from 90' and also to read more about world cups i dont remember.
    Didnt like this WC too much tho. England were rubbish throughout they really were. The first half agaist Sweeden was the best they played. I remember thinking, nice here we go, finally some good football. but that all changed in the second half and the rest of the tournament.

    Still some great goals, Cole and Cambiasso are all time classics.

  • Comment number 31.

    Most will remember Zidane's headbutt, but as a couple have mentioned, he was by a long way the best player in the 2006 tournament. His performance against Brazil in the quarter final was absolutely top draw, and is my abiding memory from that World Cup.

    Don't think any one player will be as dominant this time round.

  • Comment number 32.

    What an entertaining World Cup, especially after 2002. Euro 2000 France get to the final with an unfair penalty. World Cup 2006 France get to the final with an unfair penalty. France get the lead in the final with an unfair penalty. Satisfying to see them lose the World Cup by penalties :). Goal of the tournament for me Cambiasso's goal and agree with #29

  • Comment number 33.

    Was the 2006 WC the only time a player has received 3 yellow cards and stayed on the pitch? If this is so then there is no need to blame referees from other countries. The question is how an English referee can forget (we have to assume he knew that 2Y=1R meaning player off) so fundamental a rule.

    If an Englishman cannot apply (correctly?) a cut and dry (black and white) rule, how do you expect a poor Argentinian ref to apply correctly a greyish rule?

  • Comment number 34.

    Rooney got sent off because he couldn't control his temper (again) when things were going against him. It was a clear and deserved red card for a cowardly stamp. Ronaldo winked because he felt Englands most important attacking option had been removed.

    Great World Cup, but once again Argentina were desperately unlucky with refs decisions. But you have to admire the Italians for their great courage and will to win.

    Stand out players for me was Cannavaro, Pirlo, Lahm, Zidane, Riquelme and Maxi Rodriguez.

  • Comment number 35.

    Obviously everyone remembers the headbutt in the final, but I also remember the quarter final display by Zidane against the Brazilians.

    His last truly great performance, putting Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Kaka in the shade. Probably the best individual display of the tournement, it was magical to watch from one of the all time greats.

  • Comment number 36.

    Rooney got sent off because he couldn't control his temper (again) when things were going against him. It was a clear and deserved red card for a cowardly stamp. Ronaldo winked because he felt Englands most important attacking option had been removed.

    Great World Cup, but once again Argentina were desperately unlucky with refs decisions. But you have to admire the Italians for their great courage and will to win.

    Stand out players for me was Cannavaro, Pirlo, Lahm, Zidane, Riquelme and Maxi Rodriguez.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Yep agreed.

    What did you think of the Holland v Portugal game? The most ill tempered game I have ever seen. It was magic to watch!

  • Comment number 37.

    I get the feeling that people forget how brilliant Zidane was throughout the tournament, just because of the headbutt. We must remember ow well he played, especially against Brazil, and this World Cup really showed the best of Zidane. Remember how badly France performed without him in 2002 and 2008?

  • Comment number 38.

    I watched every game of World Cup 2006 in the union bar as it was the end of my first year at university. Had my only exam druing the England-Trinidad game, finished it as quickly as possible [I passed thankfully] and ran down to the bar which was right below the exam hall just in time to see Crouch score with that hair-pulling jump.

    As a free man, me and my friends sat in the bar from 11am most days until 11pm closing, watching all of the group games on the big screen, going outside into the glorious sunshine in between and devouring the barbeque food the union had kindly put on.

    I can still feel the heartbreak of watching England lose that shootout. Everyone in the bar had their arms locked watching it, some people couldn't even look at the screen, it was horrible.

    It was a great tournament. Loads of controversy, incredible goals. The only problem was that there were almost too many poor to mediocre teams in first knockout round. I think the standard of the teams overall is slightly higher this year, so it should be more competetive all round.

  • Comment number 39.

    Technically speaking Zidane should not have been sent off in the final, even though his action was wrong and deserved a red card. (Interestingly Materazzi attracted no sympathy and was seen deservedly as villain rather than victim).
    The incident was not seen by the ref or his assistants at the time. He was sent off on the basis of the video evidence available to the 4th official on the pitch side monitor. He then attracted the ref's attention. Such action goes beyond the remit of the 4th official, so he was acting outside the established rules. FIFA continues to say that it will not allow video technology at matches, when in fact it arguably helped determine the outcome of the 2006 Final.

  • Comment number 40.

    The Zidane-Materazzi incident is something I am sure most people will never forget. After reading the comments from Zidane in the link you provided in this article I actually have even more respect for him now that I already did have. He appears to be a very philosophical guy, very stoic.

    http://www.worldfootballcolumns.com

  • Comment number 41.

    #27 - Charlie
    At the time I started to believe that '06 put forward new teams who could be much more successful in the future, not the Africans but rather teams such as USA, Australia who out performed themselves on very limited budgets. I am a firm believer that if either country decides that they want to win the competition in the next 30 years they can achieve it, their sporting pedigree is so strong anyway that making a success out of football is probably only a generation away.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------

    Well, this is the most bizarre comment i have ever heard. Total crap.USA, Australia have limited budgets?stop sleep-typing mate. seems you are still talking club football.how do budgets come in in the first place?and if they do, would they apply to mighty USA and wealthy Australia? Also the mention of Africans is surely uncalled for!!!!

  • Comment number 42.

    Good blog! Personal highlights were Joe cole and cambiassos' goals, the zidane headbutt (have a french mother, so that didn't go down well) and Cannavaro. Noone seemed to mentioned his performance in the world cup. Fully deserved world player of the year. England truly were shocking. Worst performance in the past 20 years. Not a single positive to take from that tournament. High hopes this time though!

  • Comment number 43.

    Managed to see most of the games that year due to a spell of unemployment. What a time to be out of work. However I did miss the infamous headbutt. I was in the Thirsty Scholar pub in Manchester, decided a brief lull in the game was a good time to relieve my bladder, got back to my mate saying Zidane's been sent off, but was generally confused as to why. Then of course the TV coverage kept showing the incident again and again, in slow motion. In a profound moment I realised I was seeing a massive moment in world cup history. That and of course realising that when Cannavaro finally lifted the world cup I knew the day after that I would have to start to "properly" look for a job.

  • Comment number 44.

    FIFA 2006 was amazing and the icing on the cake was the "AZZURI's" lifting their 4th world cup.

    I was there watching when RBaggio,the divine ponytail missed his kick and Italy lost. I was apprhensive in 2006 also with Italy conceding an early penalty, i was praying that atleast this time we win.

    It was really fantastic in the way they came back with the guy who conceded the penalty scoring the equaliser and the rock solid Italian defence holding on and winning it on penalties.

    I only hope that the Azzuri's lift the trophy again and become the first country to win back to back world cups twice. FORZA AZZURI . .

  • Comment number 45.

    @ BeautifulGame (#44)

    Brazil won back to back in 58 and 62

  • Comment number 46.

    sorry my post above is rubbish - i realise now what he's saying

  • Comment number 47.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 48.

    Coming to the head butt of Zizou,it was one of the moments that will always be remembered in the history of the FIFA world cups.

    We must all admire the sportive behavior of Zidane because he was honest even if it meant losing the world cup, the greatest trophy of all.

    I am sorry but i have to say that none of the current Les Bleus players have that sporting behavior and honesty especially with Henry handling the ball and France scoring becoz of which they are in FIFA 2010.

    FIFA must have looked into this matter and must have organized a rematch as Henry was fine with that. I hope that these incidents dont happen in the FUTURE.

  • Comment number 49.

    I really want to add this comment after seeing a post that does not support the usage of video evidence in football to make a decision.

    I think it must be used as FIFA and the fans all over the world just cannot rely only on the decision of a refree who is a human being. He can be the worlds best refree but still, he is human and his efficiency cannot be taken as cent percent as like machines. Remeber 2002 when SPAIN's goal was declared as not a goal and they got eliminated and now recently the handball made by a famous player which lead to a goal and that has lead for a country not taking part in the sporting extrvaganza.

    Technology has come soo far and players have become more nad more intelligent that at some point in the near future, decions like red cards, goals scored which are declared as offside etc have gotto be decided using camera evidence.

  • Comment number 50.

    My enduring memory of the 2006 WC, and something that no one seems to have mentioned, was the dismantling of Brazil by Zinedine Zidane. It was incredible, deft flicks and no-look passes at the fore - he made the Brazilians looks...English.

    Have a look here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SvYlvkWpPy4

  • Comment number 51.

    I enjoyed this World Cup.

    I was an international student finishing up my post-graduate degree in Dundee, Scotland. I remember the "World at your feet" by Embrace which helped build a nice atmosphere in the time preceding the start of the World Cup.

    I remember some of my colleagues at work looking at me like I was crazy when I predicted that Italy would win the WC. My reasons were that:

    1. They had arguably the best, or one of the top managers in world football in Lippi. An excellent tactician and man-manager. The Paul Newman of football

    2. Most of the players had reached the age where they were peaking or about to peak (Grosso, Buffon, Di Rossi, Gattuso, Totti), with a few veterans to boot (Cannavaro, Oddo, Del Piero, Inzaghi)

    3.Due to the Calipoli scandal, Italy had gone about their World Cup preparation with little or no pressure on the actual team, as everyone expected them to fall in the initial stages like the 2002 and Euro 2004 squads.

    4. The World Cup was being held in Europe, which makes a world of difference.

    The Ghana game was actually a tough game for Italy and so was the Australia game (a match up between 2 tactical masterminds - Lippi and Hiddink). De Rossi, who should have made this tournament his own, picked up a needless red card and faded away till the final stages. Who would forget Gattuso's infamous celebration in our of the games where he ran to the sidelines and grabbed Lippi's face. Lippi was not very amused, with Bulldog's celebration.

    Del Piero's goal to put Italy 2-0 was fantastic, and a vindication for his nightmare game in Euro 2000's final. Everyone goes on about Xavi now, but Pirlo in that WC had no peer. His pass, in the counter that preceeded the Del Piero goal was a master-class in deeplying playmaking.

    Cannavaro was never beaten in that tournament. His last gasp challenge to steal the ball from Podolski in that semi was top-drawer. When you earned your stripes as a youth player at Napoli, by marking Maradona in training, then you have to be a top player. This is a player that is just about 5ft7 or so. Class!

    Brazil was disappointing, especially in the match against Croatia, where had Croatia taken some early opportunities, they may have won. Brilliant on paper, for some reason, Perreira's 4-2-2-2 formation never cliqued into gear, despite boasting Kaka, Ronaldinho, Ronaldo and Adriano in the team. Dissappointing.

    People talk about the Cambiasso goal, but I equally liked Torres' goal for Spain against Ukraine, which was a smart poke ( a little bit like that DiCanio goal, albeit less impressive), which finished off a move of about 6 passes or more. Ukraine, by the way, was one of the successes of this tournament. Being a Chelsea fan, I remember licking my lips at the prospect of Schevchenko joining us. Little did I know.......(

    The Netherlands vs Portugal game was so bad-tempered; and I remember thinking to myself that coach Van Basten, while looking the part in his dapper outfit, seemed to be clueless with Holland playing a rigid 4-3-3 system even when they were having problems controlling the game. Boulharouz or should i call him "Boula-bruise' really lived up to his name, and Pauleta had a poor tournament as well, only scoring one goal.

    England up to that point had played very poorly. The fault will ultimately lie with Ericsson as he is the manager, but the truth is that in 2004, they had flattered to deceive. Lampard and Gerrard performed poorly through out, and Owen's early injury seemed to suck the air out of them through-out the tournament.

    What i can never understand, for the life of me, is why Ronaldo got so much stick " for getting Rooney sent off". What has been conveniently ignored is Rooney's daft challenge. 3 of England's players still missed penalties in the shoot-out! The English media, need to stop looking for scape goats in international tournaments, and look at the team. The team, some of whose players shine in the EPL due to the hard-work of their foreign teammates, get found out in International tournaments. Hargreaves was England's best player by a mile. In the end reaching the quarter final was not as bad as the press made it. Spain and Argentina with far better teams than England didnt go as far.

    The final was overshadowed by the Zidane incident, but over all what a decent WC. Certainly better than japan/korea

  • Comment number 52.

    Well done Ronaldo on his 15 goals, surpassing Gerd Muller's record.

    Zidane - I will certainly remember his genius and skills, rather than his one final head-butt act.

    David Trezeguet who missed the crucial penalty in the shoot-out - could it be justice to the Italians after 6 long years? After all, it was his Golden Goal vs. Italy that won the French the Euro 2000 Final.

    England's defeat to Portugal made it Scolari - 3, Erikson - 0! A scoreline which says it all about the two managers actually.

    For the upcoming 2010 World Cup, if either Germany, Brazil, Argentina or Italy wins it, they will get to keep the current trophy for good - meaning we will potentially see a new World Cup trophy design for Brazil 2014!!

    Not forgetting the Holland-Portugal game which produced the record number of yellow and red cards - football battle at its literal meaning.

    Top Scorer with 5 goals - the lowest number for a few decades!

  • Comment number 53.

    Good work guys, really enjoyed the World Cup stories.
    Suitably inspired, I've booked to leave work early next Friday to tackle the opening game (first time in ages).

    1986 got me started and 1990 got me hooked.

    Come on England!

    http://scottssportsandsocial.blogspot.com/

  • Comment number 54.

    Teh only world cup that I have actually attended and got to see a match live at. I was at the England v Sweden match in Cologne, which for a Scot was an interesting experience! But that two weeks I spent in Germany during the world cup was a fantastic experience. Watching games live on a big screen in town squares, surounded by football fans from all over the world and everyone having a great time was superb. For me germany 2006 will always be very special, despite Scotland failure to qualify, and I would love for the world cup to return to these islands, in England in 2018, to attend it once again, this time with Scotland!

  • Comment number 55.

    I agree with number 18 and say that never under assume the Italians, they are always strong (Pirlo,Cannavaro,Zambrotta,De Rossi,Gattuso,Gillardino,Camoronesi) when it comes to the football spectacle and they may make it this time also.

  • Comment number 56.

    Like Beckham in '98 what was disappointing about Rooney's sending off wasn't so much that it was pretty lightweight but the complete lack of retribution for the provocation that preceded it.

    In Beckham's case Simeone clattered him from behind then knelt on him and pressed down into his back.

    In Rooney's case 2 (!!!) players, Carvalho and Petit hacked at him and pulled at his groin, eventually dragging him down.

    btw England were poor until the quarter final but actually dominated that game against Portugal.

  • Comment number 57.

    Great tournament!!

    Random things I remember from this World Cup:

    1) Switzerland exiting the tournament without conceding a goal

    2) In their group game, Croatia fielded the same number of Australian born outfield players as Australia(7) and Australia fielded the same number of Croatian born players as Croatia(3). Don't ask how I remember that!!!

    3) Japan taking the lead against Brazil before receiving a master class!

    4) The greatest impact performance from an individual player (Zidane) since Maradona in 86.

    5) Attacking mentality from the majority of teams from the start. (Excluding England)

    Finally, regarding the Rooney incident, England experimented with a defensive 4-5-1 system due to the injury to Owen. Against Portugal, Rooney was left isolated on a number of occasions and was crowded out by two, sometimes three defenders. Everyone could see he was but to explode except Sven!!

    When Rooney was sent off Sven decided to take a midfielder off and stick on Crouch. England spent the next hour lofting the ball forward to his head. We went out of the World Cup due to our own negative tactics. The Portuguese had hardly set the World on fire in a relatively 'easy' group and were there for the taking!!

    I just hope that if we do go out of this World Cup (fingers crossed we don’t), people can accept that we weren’t good enough or got our tactics wrong.

    I won’t hold my breath though!!

  • Comment number 58.

    #33 Red Lion.

    Not that this is any excuse but apparently the first of Josip Simunic's yellow cards was attributed to Australia's Craig Moore (same shirt number '#3' as Simunic) by Graham Poll because Simunic speaks with an Australian accent. This confused Poll who put the booking in the Australian column of his notebook against shirt #3.

    I shudder to think what would have happened if Craig Moore had gone on to actually commit an offence warranting a 'first' yellow card, would Poll have sent him off for a 'second' yellow?

  • Comment number 59.

    Apart from Zidane my favourite moment from this WC was before the penalty shoot out between Germany and Argentina. Jens Lehmann had been made Germany's No.1 just before the tournament over Oliver Kahn, while Lehmann was sitting on the ground preparing for the shootout, Kahn, with whom he'd had a bitter public feud for years, came up behind him and began telling him how to approach the shhotout. The 2 bitter rivals then shook hands and smiled at each other before Lehmann went on to be the shootout hero!

    After the final penalty a mass brawl broke out, but Lehmann, who was known as a headcase just calmly walked off the field!

  • Comment number 60.

    56. At 12:24pm on 04 Jun 2010, Rob wrote:

    btw England were poor until the quarter final but actually dominated that game against Portugal.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I'm not a lover of stats. I like to judge a game by what I remember of it. England were not even close to dominating anyone during this WC, not evenly the lowly T&T.

    But, if stats are anything to go by.....

    http://www.fifa.com/worldcup/archive/germany2006/results/matches/match=97410059/report.html

    I wouldn't call this a dominant performance.

  • Comment number 61.

    This was a poor world cup. Hardly any of the top players like Ronaldinho, Henry, Rooney, Kaka and Gerrard performed. Everyone played not to lose as apposed to going out trying to win matches.

    England were monotonous to watch, their aim was to simply score a goal and then defend, classic Italy tactics. The only time they actually tried to really play football and attack was when Rooney got sent off against Portugal.

    Hopefully this time we'll see more open attacking football with some big performances from Messi, Ronaldo, Kaka, Robben and Rooney.

  • Comment number 62.

    I have mention this to all the people who are telling that the Italian team of 2006 was one of the worst.

    I ask people to show me footballers with the pedigree like

    1.Cannavaro - - Best defender
    2.Pirlo - - - - Playmaker
    3.Del Piero - - - Playmaker
    4.Totti - - - - Playmaker
    5.De Rossi - - - Playmaker
    6.Gattuso
    7.Nesta - - - - Best Defender
    8.Inzhagi
    9. Camaronesi
    10. Buffon - - - - Best goal keeper

    Several players apart from the strikers score goals and under the leadership of master tactician Lippi, they deservedly won the world cup.

  • Comment number 63.

    The football world deliberately TARGETS England at each tournament and succeeds in doing so. I cite the Holland - Portugal match as an example of England's shocking naivety and refusal to adjust.

    When top world side players kick each other, top world sides players go down in a heap, roll around and cry, then the team races to the ref flashing imaginary cards! Result: Red cards, penalties etc. Holland and Portugal proved it goes both ways.

    NOT for England though, we still cling to a basically Victorian view of "cricket style" fair play. We expect the world to be 'sporting'. They're not.

    Beckham was being kicked, held down and man handled for a good minute or so by Simeone (not too mention the rest of the match). Did he roll around in fits or fake agony crying? No, he was indignant that the bad Argentinian wasn't being a good sport. Then he made a mild petulant response, to which Simeone showed him how it's done! RED CARD!

    Rooney was in control of the ball, and was being kicked very harshly several times by several players. All fouls, none given. Why? Cos Rooney played fair and stayed on his feet till he finally was wrestled to the floor. "That's not fair!" Again instead of simulating and maybe getting a Portugal player carded - he vented his frustration that these 'foreigners don't play fair'... a small demeanour (compared to what he'd just received) was enough for Portugal to go "ape" and get him off.

    Why do they do it? A: Because we are a soft target and we NEVER learn our lesson, thus it works.

    How will England be eliminated this time? A: By an inferior team targeting our best player (who will probably be naive enough to fall for it) and then eliminating us on penalties.

    Who can we blame for this pattern? A: England, ourselves. We NEVER learn.

    During the build up to the World Cup we always forget one KEY point. This tournament (as every other has been) will be ruined by woeful referees. If domestic refs makes lots of mistakes and European level refs are even WORSE....welcome to the World Cup. The CLOWNS are in charge of the match.

    England's sense of 'fair play' will see us be the only team not to take advantage of the weak referees. We should not be praised for that here. We should be lambasted for clinging to a mentality that died 20-30 years ago.

  • Comment number 64.

    Good WC thouroughly enjoyable especially in the early stages..

    Australia performed very well and the Ukraine below expectations..

    Enjoyed England/ Portugal and adding my opinion to those above, WR deserved to go, no doubt about it. Players like Rooney and Beckham before him just seem to forget that while they are looked favourably upon by refs in England it doesn't work out that way at international level.

    Great games between Holland/ Portugal and of course Germany/ Italy. they were both fantastic to watch. Also thought Australia's games were great as well, full of incidents and controversy.

    And Zidane in the final? A big baby who couldn't handle the banter. The guy wouldn't survive five minutes in Scottish football on that basis alone. Italy deserved it. They had a very good team and coach, and people forget they were robbed by France in the Euro 2000 final(?). A good payback for the French! Grosso's celebration scoring the winning penalty was fantastic!

  • Comment number 65.

    #62
    Agreed. The Italians were a very good side that year and Lippi is a great coach. The deserved to win it no doubt.

  • Comment number 66.

    To 62 -

    I think only one poster said this and most are in agreement that Italy were not a poor team.

    There were a number of countries who boasted a wealth of talent. Italy won the tournament due to their consistency. The only other team who matched that consistency were Germany. France relied heavily on the brilliance of Zidane.

    It would have rather fitting for Italy to meet Germany in the Final because the semi waste game of the tournament by a long distance!!

  • Comment number 67.

    *the semi was the game of the tournament by a long distance!!

  • Comment number 68.

    This World Cup will be the "special one" for the rest of my life. I think a World Cup, that is staged in your home country has to be special by definition ;-)
    I still can feel the tension, when the teams entered the Allianz Arena in Munich for the opening game. German expectations were, after the Euro 2004 group stage exit, as low as possible - we just hoped that the team won't make a fool of themself. And then this brilliant long range goal by Philip Lahm - his broken arm still in cast - what a cracker! Everytime afterwards when he tried the same trick, cutting in from the left and aiming for the far right corner of the goal, my friends and I called that the Costa Rica memory effort.
    This goal and the following game ending 4:2 set the temper for the whole tournament, out of the German perspective: play offensive, play attractive, play with all of your heart.
    And the team delivered in every single game. The Argentinians have to blame themselves for exiting in the quarterfinal, as they substituted their attackers after leading just 1:0 - actually, I didn't think the german side would come back, but they did. Actually I thought Argentina would hit a last minute winner, but they didn't. The rest is history ;-)
    The semi-final against Italy was propably the best game of the tournament - a fast game, high tension, great atmosphere, chances on both sides and a dramatic finish. I hate to say it, but Italy were worthy winners, if just by a small hint.
    But after this defeat, and in the prepartion for the 3rd place game - my personal World Cup Highlight took place:
    The german Team travelled to Stuttgart for the 3rd place game, they checked in in a hotel near the main station in the evening and in front of this hotel thousands and thousands of fans blocked a six-lane road, singing, chanting and celebrating the team. The players came to the windows and you could see the surprise in their eyes. I think this was the best party ever celebrated in Germany since the Berlin Wall came down in '89!
    To relief this moment I strongly advise to watch the Documentary "Deutschland. Ein Sommermärchen" by director Sönke Wortmann, he accompanied the german team since the beginning of the World Cup preperations and he gives you a lot of insights of the team. A brilliant film for every football fan (not just the german ones).
    Personally I had the luck to attend one World Cup match in the Stadium. The lottery brought me Ivory Coast - Serbia/Montenegro in the Munich Allianz Arena: the outcome of the game was meaningless, as both teams already were eliminated, but what a game this was: result 3:2, two penalties, red cards - the game had everything and the atmosphere in the stadium and in the city was fantastic.
    Btw: those four weeks in the summer of 2006 where also brilliant from a meteorological point of view ;-)

  • Comment number 69.

    In addition: "Deutschland. Ein Sommermärchen" the official Trailer:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5AKVzo5i464

    ;-)

  • Comment number 70.

    #63

    Oh Lord...the world is full of cheating foreigners who just exploit English fair play because English players never cheat!?! Seriously, get a life!

  • Comment number 71.

    for me one of the most entertaining games was the Portugal 1 - 0 Holland not for the football, but the unbelieveable ammount of fouls, 16 yellows 4 reds and countless other fouls and talking points. it even reduced a great like Figo to headbutt Van Bommel, that surely should've been red card 5 as well! also the mass brawl between argentina and germany, Per Mertrsacker being kicked in the gonads and maxi rodriguez running up to ounch Schweinsteger in the back! absolutley crazy, some how lehmann didn't get involved!!! I hope for another Dutch-Portuguese encounter this year!!!!

  • Comment number 72.

    #63

    Well done. First prize for the most laughable post of the day.

    Just to clear a few things up. When Beckham was fouled by Simeone the referee gave a free kick to England. When Rooney was manhandled by Cavarlho, the referee gave a free kick to England. THESE ARE THE RULES!!!

    On both occasions, the immediate reactions to the fouls were NOT IN THE RULES!!!!

    As for saying that other teams target England's best player. So what??? That happens all the way down to park football.

    If England's players are not man enough to take a kick or two without being petulant, they shouldn't play the game!! The best way to beat your opponent is to humiliate them with skill, not assault them!!

  • Comment number 73.

    I don't agree that Italy had a poor team, Totti, Cannavaro, Pirlo and Buffon were all world class and they all played well together. To be honest the reason I wanted France to win was because of Zidane. His performances throughout the tournament and especially against Brazil were amazing and the French team wholly relied on his ability to change a game. To be brought out of international retirement and then state that you will be retiring from football altogether before the start of the tournament and then performing with such class just sums up Zinedine Zidane. It would have been very fitting for it to be him who lifted the trophy as star player and captain but a couple of insults about his family and the "honourable" guy decided to put the nut into Materazzi who is hardly the pinnacle of sportsmanship and fairplay.

    Great tournament though I thought, from Germany's first great goal against Costa Rica to the drama of the shootout at the end where France's Euro 2000 Final hero misses his crucial penalty. Great games included Holland v Portugal and France v Brazil in the knockout rounds, whilst in the Group Stages there was plenty of entertaining football and a lot of good goals. I think that Germany 2006 was a great improvement on 2002 and hope the trend continues this time round!

  • Comment number 74.

    @63

    Thank you I could not stop laughing reading your comments! Of course England would never cheat, shame those nasty cheating inferior foreigners keep cheating to beat England!

    Ha ha Sir you are comedy gold!

  • Comment number 75.

    #63

    The problem with England is that they can never accept when they are not good enough. Always blame everyone else.

  • Comment number 76.

    @backpassgoal, all the talk prior to the 2006 tournament was about the rise of African football and all the teams unfortunately failed to demonstrate for various reasons. I am not being "racist" in any means but within the African there is diversity of talent (Drogba, Eto are at the top of world football but there is a huge gap in talent within the squads), will home advantage help them out this time, I hope so but long term growth in football will likely lie within the USA/Australia and the European nations.

    You are right the US and Oz are the richest nations on earth, however their funding at a national level is frankly laughable and yes it does impact how the national teams perform..think FA schools of excellence, training camps, treatment etc

  • Comment number 77.

    keithwellerlounge74

    rooney should have been banned for life for that stamp,youde get arrested if you did it in the street,so why is it ok for someone to do it in a football gam? the same goes for zidane,but noone is trying to defend zidanes stupidity,there are plenty of totally biased,ignorant and genuinely savage people on here (all english,i notice) willing to defend rooneys vicious attack on carvalho.young or not,theres simply no getting around the fact that rooney could easily have done permanent damage to him,simply because he doesnt have the temperment to play pro football.

    people saying ronaldo got him sent off:
    1.youre wrong,rooney got himself sent off,the idiot.
    2.even if that were true,so what? thats the least the scumbag deserved.ronaldo was well within his rights to do so,his team-mate had just been attacked.ronaldo wink might irritate you (although you always have something to be sour about dont you? its never englands fault,thats what we've learned after all these years and world cup exits) but its not against the rules and its not like it was giving portugal an advantage,was it? (that honour was reserved for rooney,who singlehandedly put them through) a less egotistical and controversy courting player might have had the sense not to do it,but ronaldo is neither and he was also very young-the difference being he wasnt stamping repeatedly on someones crotch.

  • Comment number 78.

    70, 72, 74 - You clearly didn't read my piece properly.

    I never expressed that English players do not cheat. I expressed that they are INFERIOR at cheating, and that THIS IS ENGLAND'S PROBLEM, WHICH THEY NEED TO FIX.

    My point is that 'cheating' or as I call it gamesmanship, is a SKILL in modern football that England players are 20 years behind in.

    My use of the term "cheating" was in quotation marks to highlight that viewing it AS "cheating" is the problem - the mentality of the 'loser English player'... NOT MY OPINION. It wasn't not ME labelling it cheating or trying to suggest it is unfair. What IS embarrassing is that I belong to a nation who NEVER EVER LEARNS FROM THEIR MISTAKES.

    As for the inferior comment. England outplayed Portugal with 10 men, and with 11 including Rooney - should have knocked Portugal out. My point is that a team 'inferior' can GAIN advantages elsewhere, in areas the England team have NO SKILL in adopting themselves.

    It must have something to do with the FA or playing for England, cos we see players such as Gerrard and especially Terry and co at Chelsea, managing to adopt these 'gamesmanship skills' far more effectively at club level.
    Maybe they're reminded not to SHAME our country by employing these things at the World Cup in England shirts??


  • Comment number 79.

    As for the failings about the free kicks. My point wasn't that they were not given - I Know that they WERE! But that the referee's didn't intervene at the appropriate point. In both cases the 'play' should have been halted LONG before the 'incidents' occurred.

    My hope was that Rooney should have been rolling around in faux agony 2 minutes earlier after HE was initially kicked, and the England team should have been surrounding the ref waving imaginary cards and trying provoke a reaction of indignation from the Portugal player. To get the Portugal player sent off. We've seen at World Cup's it is a very successful tactic.

  • Comment number 80.

    Owen, Rooney and Gerrard dive as much as any other Johnny foreigner. Owen produced two world class dives against Argentina in 1998 and 2002 to win crucial penalties.

    As for Rooney getting sent off, the last time I checked you are not allowed to stamp on someones genitals in a football match. He's extremely lucky that Ronaldo produced that wink otherwise he could have got the same treatment Beckham got in 1998.

    The Italy team was ok but nothing special, they haven't really done anything much after winning the world cup. I think they got quite an easy run to the final and were then outplayed by France for most of the game.

    They along with Germany 1990 are probably the weakest teams to have won the world cup, they lacked a star like Baggio. However with Lippi in charge I can see them plodding to the semis.

  • Comment number 81.

    #76

    within the African there is diversity of talent (Drogba, Eto are at the top of world football but there is a huge gap in talent within the squads), will home advantage help them out this time, I hope so but long term growth in football will likely lie within the USA/Australia and the European nations.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Man for Man Ivory Coast have much stronger squad than USA/Australia and the majority of their players regularly play in the Champions League. In terms of diversity, Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey are light years ahead of anyone else in the US squad (apart from the keepers)

    The relative success of African nations in previous World Cups (Cameroon 1994, Senegal 2002, Ghana 2006) has helped to thrust relative unknowns into the European elite. Just look at the clubs that the Ivory Coast players currently play for.

    You can throw as much money as you want in to sport but that doesn't guarantee that you will unearth any talent.

    Just look at the Lawn Tennis Association!!

  • Comment number 82.

    Germany 1990 weak?

    Jeez dude, go back to bed and wake up properly will you.

  • Comment number 83.

    78. At 3:27pm on 04 Jun 2010, numsig wrote:
    70, 72, 74 - You clearly didn't read my piece properly.

    I never expressed that English players do not cheat. I expressed that they are INFERIOR at cheating, and that THIS IS ENGLAND'S PROBLEM, WHICH THEY NEED TO FIX.

    My point is that 'cheating' or as I call it gamesmanship, is a SKILL in modern football that England players are 20 years behind in.

    My use of the term "cheating" was in quotation marks to highlight that viewing it AS "cheating" is the problem - the mentality of the 'loser English player'... NOT MY OPINION. It wasn't not ME labelling it cheating or trying to suggest it is unfair. What IS embarrassing is that I belong to a nation who NEVER EVER LEARNS FROM THEIR MISTAKES.

    As for the inferior comment. England outplayed Portugal with 10 men, and with 11 including Rooney - should have knocked Portugal out. My point is that a team 'inferior' can GAIN advantages elsewhere, in areas the England team have NO SKILL in adopting themselves.

    It must have something to do with the FA or playing for England, cos we see players such as Gerrard and especially Terry and co at Chelsea, managing to adopt these 'gamesmanship skills' far more effectively at club level.
    Maybe they're reminded not to SHAME our country by employing these things at the World Cup in England shirts??

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I’d rather see players representing the country/team I support refrain from cheating, even if it means losing. If you can’t beat a team without cheating, you don’t deserve to win.
    If Johnny foreigner wants to roll around for ten minutes after barely any contact, let them. I would stop watching England if they reverted to such tactics.
    You don’t win tournaments by feigning injury; you win by winning all of your games.
    Had Rooney not been red carded, how can you be so sure that we would have won that match??? As for Beckham, England had a perfectly good goal disallowed when he wasn’t even on the pitch!!!!!

  • Comment number 84.

    1986 - Was my first world cup I remember and remains my favourate. Just so many good players played well in that tournament.
    1990 - England started awfully but then got momentum until Chris Waddle cut off his mullet and missed the penalty (though don't think Shilton got near to any German penalties and Pearce had already missed). Cameroon were fantastic as well I remember.
    1994 - No English teams but great watching the Bulgarians beat Germany.
    1998 - Who can forget England - Argetina? Remember Campbell scoring and the whole pub exploding and dancing in the street outside. Then coming back in and seeing the score hadn't changed (goal had been disallowed but took us about 5minutes to realise).
    2002 - I actually really liked this tournament. Strange watching football matches at 7:30 in the morning, but the atmosphere and upsets made this an unforgettable tournament. WE finally beat Argentina and looked solid, but went negative against Nigeria and subsequently came second in the group and meant we played Brazil in the heat. Yeah South Korea got some help from the refs, but all the hosts have (including England with the goal/no goal in the final and Nobby Styles not being sent off in the semis)
    2006 - I thought the football was pretty good in this tournament (England aside). Won a bet that Germany would score the most goals in the tournament.

  • Comment number 85.

    83 What did you think about Owen's dives in 98 and 2002?

    England played better when Rooney got sent off. In fact I think he will be the downfall of this team again. He hasn't been the same for England since 2004 - 2005. That's when he was at his peak and wasn't afraid to try the unexpected.

  • Comment number 86.

    85. At 4:13pm on 04 Jun 2010, reckless wrote:
    83 What did you think about Owen's dives in 98 and 2002?


    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I don't condone diving as much as the next man, but the original post (63) I responded to was suggesting that players from other countries tactically get English players sent off - they are targeted in some way.

    It suggested that the opposition players feign injury and the result is a red card. Diving has become part and parcel of the game and it's not a new phenomenon. Although it was not as common in the past, it still existed. Gaining an advantage by diving is undesirable but it happens.

    To suggest that England don't win tournaments because the opponents deliberately get our players sent off is an entirely different matter. I would not want to see England beat an 7 man Argentinian side because they had feigned injury resulting in 4 red cards. (Extreme example I know)

    The point is that Rooney and Beckham both deserved to be sent off, winking or not! The actions they took deserved the punishment they received. There is no other outcome. Owen got a penalty on both occasions but he could haveeasily got a yellow card on another day. I don't condone it, I'm just merely pointing out that it can end two ways. Stamping on your opponents 'crown jewels' will lead to only one outcome.

  • Comment number 87.

    "Sadly for France legend Zinedine Zidane, one of the greatest footballers of his and any generation, the crazed head-butt that sent Marco Materazzi flying - and saw Zidane sent off - near the end of extra-time in the final is what that game, this tournament, and ultimately his career is best remembered for."

    Perhaps for those who just watch the World Cup final. For the rest of us, we remember Zidane for much, much more. Poor journalism.

  • Comment number 88.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 89.

    #44. I cant agree more. I want to see the Azzurri win again but having seen the performance against Mexico the other night i am not confident like i was 4 years ago.
    #42 i totally agree. few people mention cannavaro but his performance in 2006 was unbelieveable. A deserved Golden ball winner (it should have been zidane but the red card let him down) the moment where Canavaro truely shone was just before Italy's second goal in the semi with germany. An excellent defensive header which went far, then having the nerve to tackle the Player who was controling his clearance which set up Del Piero's goal.
    They nicknamed him, somewhat hastily, 'Il Muro di Berlino' (The Berlin Wall) during that tournament.

    but he has aged very badly. anyone who saw Juventus vs fulham this year will agree.

  • Comment number 90.

    I agree that England were poor...but I can't believe no-one has mentioned Owen Hargreaves performance in the match against Portugal. This is the guy who got slated at two previous tournaments, the manager didn't know his best position and the fans hated him.

    However that all changed in the portugal game....he seemed to be the only one who actaully wanted to win and play with some passion, despite being booed throughout the tournament. For me..he has to be comeneded for turning round his fortunes and becoming a fan's hero

  • Comment number 91.

    #50. LilyWhiteRiot

    HA nice comment. I just watched the video. Zidane was amazing.

    This is a message for Chris Bevan or Stevo. How about blogging and starting a debate/vote as to who is the best player in the history of the WCups.

    If anyone else is interested in this help me get the message to Bevan and Stevo.

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]
    After watching that video and how Zidane destroyed Spain in the second round, my vote goes to him.
    SUre Pele scored over 1000 goals in his career, and maradona had a superb WC86 but Zidane had an incredible 1998 and an even better 2006. [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator][Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 92.

    2006 WC was better than last 3 WC. I think Germany was a perfect venue.

    I am amazed that ppl are still moaning about Rooney red card
    Offcourse that was a red card irrespective of what Ronaldo did
    ( btw i am 100% sure rooney would have done the same as country comes first than club fellowship)

  • Comment number 93.

    OK, this is probably the least favourite World Cup I can remember, admittedly partly due to my personal situation going into this tournament.

    1. It was meant to be the tournament that me and my best mate would get to. We applied for England's group matches as soon as the draw was made...and came up empty.

    2. Long story short, having finished Uni I wound up moving from the London burbs to Exeter a few months earlier than expected and a month before my new flat was 'ever' going to be ready. So much for looking forward to watching one last major tournament with my mates. Instead I effectively moved into my grandparent's place on the day of our first warmup friendly with Hungary.

    Pre-tournament, well here's my original set of predictions written circa December '05: http://www.mattgsplace.net/sport/Football/WorldCup.htm

    Anyway, back to summer '06. As the new guy in town I decided to check out the local pubs for football atmosphere. First up, the Imperial for the warmup game vs Jamaica and first group game vs Paraguay. The place went suitable mental for our early goal vs Paraguay but after that well, when an English pub starts singing about 10 German bombers it's a sign that they're getting bored.

    I watched the rest of England's matches at another place called The Tower(now The Farmer's Union). The less said the better I think. Yes we matched our '02 run to the quarter finals but on paper we had a stronger team in '06 and the same gaffer and yet...the '02 team would have beaten the '06 team. The '06 side never got out of the low gears and even today I'm not sure why.

    In the absence of any other side from the British Isles(very dissapointing), the Aussies became the nearest thing I had to a second team, my sympathy coming from the that that they'd had a solid group of players for about a decade previous and were overdue a taste of the big time. Sure enough, I wound up watching their match vs Croatia at the local Walkabout. Place was packed with Aussies and given the comments about "the English referee" I'm just glad I got away in one piece!

    The quality of the German team proved to be one of the big surprises. Yes they only made the semis but their '06 team would definately have beaten their lucky '02 side.

    I remember the France vs Spain quarter final being a good match and Italy vs Germany featured both sides playing their A game(surprised the BBC hasn't provided highlights of either of those games).

    As for the final well, decent match remembered for being decided in a penalty shootout...and that headbutt. I remember exchanging views with an Arab mate of mine (who was supporting France) on IM. He'd previously shredded Rooney's stamp vs Portugal yet considered the Zidane headbutt fair game because Matterazzi had insulted his family. For me it just looked like one of the greats of the game going out in the worst possible way.

    As for Italy. Well what was left of the kid who used to admire Serie A had his fingers crossed Italian football wouldn't get buried in a legal landslide after the match-fixing allegations. Other than that though, I don't think this was a vintage Azzuri side and their '94 team could have probably beaten them.

    Here's hoping for a better tournament next time round.

  • Comment number 94.

    The stand-out game for me was France v Brazil because of the sheer wizardry displayed by Zidane. He put a legendary flair team in the shade with his remarkable skills. One of the greatest ever world cup performances by any individual in my view. His reaction to the "banter" was pretty noble too!

  • Comment number 95.

    Chris, I think you overrate the final and the Argentina –Mexico game. They were OK, but nothing more. Rightly pointed out thought that like several other modern world cups it was a very promising first week or more of the tournament and then got duller in the knockout stages. It was a better world cup for good defenders than good strikers.

    Maxi Rodriguez was the goal of the tournament. I thought so before the ball had even fallen to the ground. It was a cracker.

    World cup featured 2 of the best performances of modern times – Cannavaro with a defensive masterclass in the semi against Germany and Zidane – as rightly pointed out by 35 and 50 – against Brazil. At one point he just flicked the ball right over the head of one of the star Brazilians and collected it on the other side. He out-Brazilled them. Both performances received an average rating of about 9.7 on the BBC website if I recall – this was averaged over many viewers so is ridiculously high and was well higher than any other performance in the tournament. Both performances were a genuine 10/10. I don’t give 10s very often. I haven’t seen another since.

  • Comment number 96.

    totticiuciotto wrote: few people mention cannavaro but his performance in 2006 was unbelieveable. A deserved Golden ball winner (it should have been zidane but the red card let him down)
    ------------------------------------
    Bad memory here, because Zidane did win it actually. It's the ultimate in the continued story of wrong decisions made before the final.

    In 1998 Ronaldo won the award but went missing in the final.

    In 2002 Oliver Kahn was presented with the award before the match. He went on to drop the ball at Ronaldo's feet. Ronaldo scored the 2 decisive goals in the final, 8 in total for the tournament, and despite his overall performance level in some games being rather average, probably deserved the win over Kahn.

    In 2006 they at least had the good sense not to hand out the award before the final had even started. Votes were made during the game (by journalists there) and Zidane beat Cannavaro. In a short time after the votes were cast, Zidane made the headbutt and Cannavaro got his hand on the trophy. The margin of victory for Zidane was so small that it's a virtual certainty that Cannavaro would have won, had the votes been cast after the tournament.

    Bottom line - the golden ball is a nonsense because it's voted for too early and has continually produced the wrong result. Will FIFA finally learn this time and sort it out?

  • Comment number 97.

    Portugal were very lucky to get through to the semi. A very dirty team and created nothing against 10-men England in extra time, no motivation to go for it. Having said that, we (England) didn't honestly merit a semi either. Argentina and Germany were both better sides than England and Portugal, but had the misfortune to draw each other in the quarters, even though both of them were good enough to make the semis.

    Before the quarters, I felt that Brazil, Germany and Argentina were clearly the three best teams in the tournament. Then it all turned round and ended up with France in the final against Italy of course. France and Italy were the better sides against Brazil and Germany respectively when it really mattered but wouldn't have been thought of as worthy finalists after their group stage performances, which were at a lower level.

  • Comment number 98.

    This world cup, sadly, was one for rather bad sportsmanship, even more so than normal. Italy got past Australia in the last 16 because Grosso took a dive. Henry went down disgracefully in the same round under a challenge from Puyol. Portugal were dirty throughout the group stages in subtle ways before really going crazy against Holland. In the last 15 minutes of the semi against France, Ronaldo embarassed himself by taking a dive every time the ball was crossed into the box. This last sentence is not an exaggeration. It really was like this.

    In my eyes Ronaldo had been elevated to the status of an evil pantomime villain of football during this tournament and I fully expected Ferguson to sell him. Ferguson of course knows better than I and reaped the rewards for not doing so.

    But I have a long memory and will cheer when Ronaldo and Henry get knocked out again. Simulation is part of the culture of the game but that doesn't justify it.

  • Comment number 99.

    My team of the tournament:
    1 Buffon 2Miguel (Portugal) 3 Grosso 4Craig Moore (Oz) 5 Cannavaro
    6 Viera 7 Ljungberg 8 Zidane 9 Klose 10 Ronaldo 11 Lahm

    Some might dispute Ronaldo but there was just rather a lack of strikers so he just sneaked in.

    Thanks BBC for this series.

  • Comment number 100.

    I remember this being a very good tournament, especially after the a dreadful tournament in 2002 (easily the worst in my lifetime).

    The opening game, which is usually dire, was a cracker, although I managed to miss the opening goal as I got lost (and sunburned) walking to an unfamiliar pub to watch it.

    Highlights for me were Argentina's destruction of Serbia and Montenegro in the group stage, as well as their second round game against Mexico, and France beating Brazil in the semis.

    As a Scotsman I must add that England were dreadful, and the conduct of their players on the pitch and their entourage off it epitomise everything that is wrong with football at present. But for a favourable draw that they wouldn't even have got past the group stage.




 

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