World Cup 2006 Blog

From our reporters in Germany

Here's my World Cup - how was yours?

phil_mcnulty.gifBERLIN - So that’s it then – a World Cup carnival that has taken me from Baden-Baden to Berlin via Frankfurt, Nuremberg, Cologne, Stuttgart, Gelsenkirchen, Munich and other stops too numerous to mention in five eventful weeks is over.

The circus is leaving town after the final between France and Italy and pitches up again in South Africa in four years.

So let’s look back at the highs and lows of this German summer – and let me hear your memorable moments, your heroes and villains.

World Cup 2006 holds many memories, good and bad, and will be remembered as a tournament that did not quite fulfil its early promise after a feast of goals and entertainment in the group stages.

Goals and entertainment – unless you happened to be following England that is.

It will be remembered as a World Cup deservedly won by an Italy team that was steady as opposed to spectacular in a final almost overshadowed by Zinedine Zidane’s red card.

Germany fulfilled the promise to throw a World Cup party, entering into the spirit thanks to the exciting performances of their own team under the charismatic Jurgen Klinsmann.

Sadly England never brought anything intoxicating to the bash and all talk of ending 40 years of hurt proved hollow.

Here is my World Cup verdict - let me know if you agree.
We’ll start at the bottom.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT – ENGLAND.

England’s whole set-up, from the security surrounding them to the lavish facilities for all, including the media, portrayed them as the real superstars of the World Cup.

We even had the WAGS running riot through sedate Baden-Baden, drinking enough champagne to set up the owner of local restaurant “Garibaldi’s” for life.

This sideshow, a saga lived out every day in words and pictures, cannot be allowed to happen again.

And what did England deliver? Nothing.

Shoddily prepared in terms of tactics and selection, England ended the tournament, with few exceptions, as over-hyped and over-rated failures

Maybe a modesty check is needed by all involved with England. Not as good as we, or more importantly they, think they are.

Are we too big for our boots? And was the circus surrounding the WAGS a distraction? What do you think?

MAN OF THE TOURNAMENT – JURGEN KLINSMANN.

Never got his face on as many hoardings or in more adverts than Franz Beckenbauer – who could? - but what charisma.

Treated as a California-based incompetent before the tournament, “Klinsi” is now a national hero.

Germany is currently gripped by a campaign to keep Klinsmann as coach. You can even log on to a “Klinsi Must Stay” website to make your plea.

I must have missed the “Sven Must Stay” equivalent.

BEST INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCE – OWEN HARGREAVES/FABIO CANNAVARO.

I admit to being mystified by Hargreaves’ original selection, but dismissed his ability too lightly.

He was magnificent against Portugal in England’s quarter-final defeat. Has anyone run more in a match? He even chased and retrieved one of his own clearances.

Cannavaro delivered a defensive master class against Germany in a thrilling semi-final in Dortmund, and his performances throughout made him a worthy man to lift the World Cup.


BIGGEST VILLAIN – WAYNE ROONEY/ZINEDINE ZIDANE.

Sorry to disappoint those of you waiting for me to name Cristiano Ronaldo, but if Rooney had not stamped on Ricardo Carvalho there would have been no follow up.

Ronaldo’s behaviour was unsavoury, but we have missed the point of Rooney’s part in England’s downfall.

As for Zidane, the truth will out about what made him butt Marco Materazzi, but surely he’s heard all the wind-ups before?

Materazzi’s brand of villainy is hardly original or subtle.


BIGGEST EMBARRASSMENT – GRAHAM POLL.

England’s refereeing representative at the World Cup departed after issuing three yellow cards to Croatia’s Josip Simunic against Australia – and with his reputation in shreds.

Did I detect the sound of laughter from some quarters at the downfall of Tring’s smiling official?

Fans up and down the country who feel they have suffered at Poll’s hands are already lining up the gags for next season.

MISSING IN ACTION – THEO WALCOTT.

What was the point? Just what was the point? Nothing more than a daft hunch by a coach who had never seen him play.

Walcott, blameless in this ridiculous episode, appeared to be in a daze for most of his time in Germany and was little more than a travelling mascot.

Someone tell me the rumour that Walcott is actually doing a book is a joke – sadly his selection by Eriksson was no laughing matter.

WORST COACH – SVEN-GORAN ERIKSSON (ENGLAND)/JOSE PEKERMAN (ARGENTINA).

Eriksson gave an incredible performance in Germany…actually make that a baffling performance.

He started well by standing up to Manchester United and Sir Alex Ferguson over Wayne Rooney, but it was all downhill from there.

You actually had to be standing next to him to feel the confidence oozing out of him. And every last ounce of it was misplaced.

Tactics, team selection, squad selection all horribly wrong.

Someone said he was like a weatherman who looked out over thunderous skies and lightning flashes only to confidently announce we were actually in the middle of a heat wave.

I never worked out whether he was de-mob happy or ludicrously confident – and I suspect neither did he.

Pekerman was guilty of betraying the finest side in the competition.

The refusal to play Lionel Messi, plus the removal of Juan Roman Riquelme with a quarter-final win against Germany at his mercy, was unforgiveable.

Quit right after defeat against Germany. Wise.

BEST MATCH – GERMANY V ITALY.

Fantastic atmosphere in Dortmund, two teams going hell-for-leather and high drama in the dying seconds. This was what the World Cup is all about.

A classic game decided by two classic goals. Glorious victors and heroic losers.

COMEDY MOMENT.

The Liverpool fan who spotted Gary Neville having dinner with his family at “Le Bistro” in Baden-Baden and saw a photo opportunity.

Somewhere in Liverpool is a picture of Gary happily having his nosh, while blissfully unaware that a large and horribly naked Scouse backside is lurking in the background.

Even Sven provided the odd chuckle or two.

Reporter: “How do you think Scolari would have handled this job?”

Sven: “He would throw all of you out.”

Sven was on the receiving end of one nice line when it all got a bit tetchy about the WAGS at his farewell media briefing.

Sven: “What difference could they have made to the penalties?”

Reporter: “Well they could have taken them for a start.”

BIGGEST COMPLAINT – THE PLUGS DON’T WORK.

In the midst of a superb World Cup, a very minor technical difficulty.

Namely the plugs inside the stadium never stayed in, leaving you with a race against time with your battery.

This may not mean much to you out there, but this is real high blood pressure territory for the likes of me. Thank God for the man with the Gaffa tape.

As complaints go that’s not bad, and a reflection of the credit we must give our German hosts.

AND FINALLY…..

FOOTBALL LOW POINT – The long wait for England to actually produce…we’re still waiting.


PERSONAL LOW POINT – Being forced to watch Guy Ritchie’s “Revolver” on a long coach trip to Cologne.

PERSONAL HIGH POINT – Watching the “Revolver” dvd being publicly trashed by an angry mob of travellers at the end of a long coach trip to Cologne.

PERSONAL EMBARRASSMENT – Giving my know-it-all theories on England’s midfield failings in a busy Baden-Baden restaurant…not realising I was sitting next to Michael Carrick’s parents.

Luckily I wasn’t nasty about him and they were very nice!

Being asked if I had any hairspray in my bag at a security check in Nuremberg – being asked if I had any hair would have been easier to stomach.

So that was my World Cup – how was yours?


Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 10:30 AM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Mic Es wrote:

Living next to the Fan Mile in central Berlin, I must say that the atmosphere in the past four weeks was absolutely marvellous. This is why I'd like to pay my tribute to the fans from all over the world: You were absolutely brilliant!!! Thank you for coming! This was a different city for a month and I loved it. I could even see a couple of Berlin bus drivers smile, which normally doesn't happen in a million years.

Maybe we didn't see the greatest World Cup in football terms... Well, anyway, it's only a game, isn't it?

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  • 2.
  • At 10:30 AM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • renate wrote:

Being proud of Germany and not feeling funny about it.
In our row of houses the first to show a German flag was the house of a Turkish (!)neighbour.
Seeing kids in different shirts: one of Polish origin wore an Argentinian shirt, one of Russian origin changed between "Lukas Podolski" and a Mexican shirt.
The German WAGS in a row with linked arms in the same shirts their men wore singing the National Anthem before the Argentina game.
Juergen Klinsmann jumping up and down.

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  • 3.
  • At 10:50 AM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Malcolm wrote:

Despite what the BBC pundits are saying this has been one of the better World Cups on and off the pitch, far better than World Cup 2002. Germany are to be congratulated for being great hosts and for the football they played. Italy are worthy champions, a triumph over adversity. Despite the head butt Zindane was the player of the tournament. Ronaldo, despite the English media's hate campaign, was the best young player. We have seen the greatest ever goal scored at the World Cup by Argentina, and have witnessed one of the greatest ever matches Germany v Italy.

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  • 4.
  • At 11:06 AM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Ralph wrote:

Still sad FIFA had to make a point they don't fear to go against the host nation and suspended Frings. So the most unpleasant team of the whole tournament won. Just look at how theatrically the italian falls after the so called headbutt, like he was hit by a freight train.

Other than that, it was a great party for 4 weeks. Great fun to sit in the sun, wtach football on a big screen and drink some overprized beer. It's over too soon.

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  • 5.
  • At 11:25 AM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Chris Twaddle wrote:

Great first stage, with plenty of goals and fun (except with England of course).

But I'm afraid the rest if it was rubbish and I was glad it finally ended last night, with another rather turgid affair.

Everybody involved, from the players to the commentators and the fans just seemed tired and bored as the joy and energy of the early stages gradually got replaced by too much seriousness, too much tension and too little bravery and fearlessness.

If the teams went out to attack, it'd be fine, but I'm afraid that cynicism, gamesmanship and variations on 4-5-1 reign supreme in football at the moment.

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  • 6.
  • At 11:26 AM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • andrew shenton wrote:

Not a vintage world cup for me. The Italy/Germany game was the only classic, and that was nil nil for 118 minutes !

The knockout phase was a dissapointment and to be honest, besides Argentina, there were no great teams. No great players. Too much diving, playacting, waving imaginary cards.

I will remember this World Cup for the Holland/Portugal tie which summed up the attitude of professional players today. It was a horrid game to watch and hardly the spectacle promised by FIFA.

The England WAG's World Cup ?

How rude.

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  • 7.
  • At 11:37 AM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Giddy wrote:

Pretty mediocre World Cup, memorable for the wrong reasons in most cases. The German hosts deserved better than negative tactics, over zealous referees, violent play and downright cynical cheating.

Hopefully we are at the bottom of a cyclical trough and the 2010 tournament will be a classic.

PS Well done Italy!

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  • 8.
  • At 11:43 AM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Phil Thomas wrote:

How can England have been a disappointment? Even the briefest comparison of all,passing,managerial, organisationaland captaincy skills, showed well before the World Cup that the cupboard was bare.

Don't blame Sven - at £4m per annum why should he care?

Don't blame the players - with their overhyped Premier League ducking and diving why should they care?

Don't blame the FA - their stupidity in providing a poor manager with a two year contract extension will soon be forgotten.

No, blame the fans for continue to watch the overpaid, under-performing, under-achieving, under-talented bunch of amateurs who think that being paid to play makes them professional but who lack the attitude of mind that makes a true professional.

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  • 9.
  • At 11:51 AM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Tim wrote:

I must say I have thoroughly enjoyed this tournament! It exploded into life with Lahm's wonder-goal in the opening game! What a game it was! Who would have thought that with all the defensive problems Germany had and the low expectations preceding the tournament that they could make it all the way to 3rd place?!

I have to concur that the biggest disappointment was England, after all the hype and confidence surrounding them they would play in such a lack-lustre manner.

Another low point and great disappointment for me was the number of cards brandished by the referees, in particular the Portugal vs Holland match, which was a great disappointment after so much emphasis put on fair play and playing beautifully before the tournament. I do not believe the referees are solely to blame. Player's discipline has not been fantastic. Zidane, being one of the best players in this tournament (before his moment of madness) finished as the worst disciplined player of the tournament. As well as this, the big names failing to perform, Ronaldinho, Adriano, Robben and Rooney as well as many others did not perform as they would have been expected to.

I agree that Jurgen Klinsmann has been fantastic for Germany, but also I believe Marcello Lippi has done great to help focus the Italian players with their domestic game in turmoil! For me, players of the tournament were Fabio Cannavaro or Gennaro Gatusso for Italy. They have preformed magnificently and I am totally disappointed that Gatusso has not been nominated for FIFA's World Cup XI.

The best individual performances for me have to be that of Owen Hargreaves vs Portugal or any one of Gatusso's performances in particular the semi-final vs Germany and the final.

The biggest villain for me is Cristiano Ronaldo, not just for his involvement in Rooney's sending off but for his antics over many games, against France in the semi-final in particular where he blatenlty dived a number of times, knowing the eyes of the world were on him. I agree Rooney was stupid for what he did and he did not really perform that well at other times so he could be labelled as a villain. Zidane though has been magnificent in his final tournament, but what he did cannot be excused.

The biggest embarrassment most definitely was Graham Poll, although I must say he is a top quality referee. Maybe this stage is just too big for him.

I still cannot fathom why Theo Walcott was picked, he is a player with great potential, but that is all it is, potential! He has to reach that potential before his is selected. After picking him Sven might as well have given him a run out as I'm sure the boy would have been up for making a name for himself and breaking a few records!

I must agree that Eriksson and Pekerman were the worst coaches. It is obvious why Sven is, but Pekerman wasted the vast amount of talent the Argentina squad contained.

I would have to agree that the best match was Germany vs Italy, but for sheer entertainment value Ghana vs Czech Republic in the group stages was priceless. An upset, totally open attacking play and thoroughly enjoyable to watch. The Ghanains on the break running up with three or four player against two Czech defenfers and Cech in goal was magnificent, although they did not score as many as they should have it was great to watch.

For me the low-points were the discipline and the number of cards dished out by officials, but obviously on a personal level seeing such potential in the England side wasted as the team did not perform and went out yet again on a penalty shoot-out. An extremely low point for myself.

I just hope an African team can progress further in four years time!
Tim

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  • 10.
  • At 11:57 AM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • DaveH wrote:

It may not have been a great world cup overall, but there will be some great memories, and time will enhance those memories.
This world cup should have brought us English down to earth - it makes you wonder whether the Premiership can live up to its own hype. Perhaps it isn't up to the standard that we're led to believe it is.
Graham Poll - I've always known he's a complete imbecile - as have most other football supporters. What I can't believe was that the rest of his team allowed him to make all officials in our league look like morons!
Owen Hargreaves is the biggest positive from our point of view - he showed magnificent strength of character as well as wonderful athleticism and spirit. He triumphed by proving the 80% of the nation who were slagging him off wrong - I was one of them and I've eaten my words.
The rest of the team don't need to look too far for the problem - Sven has gone now, and hopefully the new Manager and coaching staff will play the players in a formation that suits their undoubted talents.
Congratulations to Italy on a deserved victory (overall, and not necessarily on the performance in the final). Congratulations to Zinedine Zidane on deservedly winning the best player award despite his sending off. If would be a tragedy if we remembered such a magnificent player for one moment fo madness. Personally, I don't blame him - he's put up with unspeakable violence from thugs like Materazzi for his whole career, and not reacted - this time he did, and good luck to him - it's not like he did any lasting damage.
Hard luck to the French and Germans on great performances and nothing to show, and it's tough on the Argentines who had the best team, but an even more inept coach than us! I mustn't forget Portugal - a beautiful country with lovely people and a team about on a par with England, but with an unfortunate penchant for unsportsmanlike behaviour. I think it is all best forgotten about, but I have a feeling it won't be. Shame, because I like going there on holiday!
England should arrange a game with Italy now as soon as possible to measure themselves against the best - I think we'll find that we're a little bit behind them...

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  • 11.
  • At 12:12 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Giddy wrote:

Any hype about England's chances was caused by belief in the myth that this was the best English squad since 1966 - a myth started and perpetuated by those that think that pro football began in 1992 with the Premiership. England 70/82/90/98 would have wiped the floor with this lot.

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  • 12.
  • At 12:17 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • johnb wrote:

The world cup over no more listening about how England were going to win it. No more blame on who's fault it was I WISH. Give up, and accept your team was not good enough. As for listening to the so called pundits calling other countries cheats you are a discrace and not the true profesionals you should be.
Many thanks to teams like Ghana that made the world cup great to watch, players with smiles on their faces and playing as if they were enjoying it all. There has been a great deal of skill in this world cup and I include the English players in that comment from an unbiase opinion we have been treated to some great football from all the countries that took part in this World cup so many thanks, from the true football supporters in the world.
The true winners of this World cup are all the nations that took part
thank goodness we dont have a pundits world cup.
JB

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  • 13.
  • At 12:55 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Umair Qureshi wrote:

To be honest, this World Cup was a reflection of the domestic games in Europe for the past 2 seasons. Chelsea, Juventus, AC Milan: all those teams have employed a blatantly defensive approach and have been rewarded, so why blame national coaches for emulating that tactic?
That being said it was all in all a fine festival of football, with a deserving champion at the end of it all. The way Fabio Cannavaro ( my Golden Ball winner without any doubt) marshalled his troops by setting his individual example was marvellous. His precision, skill, speed and athleticism was incredible and the way he outmaneouvered the likes of Andriy Shevchenko, Lucas Podolski, Miroslav Klose and Thierry Henry was a classic example of his brilliance. The Italians won the World Cup due to their defensive acumen and one must also credit the likes of Giunligi Bufffon, Giunluca Zambrotta, Marco Materazzi and Genaro Gattuso whose steel made the Italians invincible. As it was said, The Argentines flew, the Germans battled and the Italians delivered...

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  • 14.
  • At 12:56 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Anthony wrote:

Sorry to watch Italy win(as an Australian with a German father!!)But it just goes to show that the best team rarely wins the world cup.At least I can say that we were beaten by the eventual winners,by the way it was never a penalty with 8 seconds to play!!
Anthony

P.S-As an Everton fan,I am bemused at the performance of one Matterazzi who was woeful for us.Why do Italians seem to struggle in the Premiership?-excluding of course,Zola and Di Canio.

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  • 15.
  • At 01:15 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • I H8 Soccer wrote:

My first and last world cup. Sport doesn't get any more boring than this.

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  • 16.
  • At 01:26 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Francesca wrote:

An excellent account of the way it was. The German/Italian game a classic.
English Wives and Girlfriends:
Embarrassing and more. Just send them all back to school to learn something. Did they try to learn just one of two German words instead of only out to consume?

Danke, Phil McNulty

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  • 17.
  • At 01:40 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • DavidL wrote:

100% the worst world cup ever. Cheating all round, bad decisions and bad football. I have to ask, when will a team win the world cup, that actually deserves to win it. And what did the final show us, it showed us that a team that cheated their way past Australia and got totally outclassed in the final, can be crowned world champions. FIFA has to get its act together, introduce video refs, diving should be rewarded, not with a world cup medal, but with a 3 match ban. Penalties have to go, because all too often the better team loses (Argentina).

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  • 18.
  • At 01:42 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Rory Stamp wrote:

Have to disagree with Phil's column - he implies England offered little in the way of goals or entertainment in the group stages. Yes, Phil, we were disappointing. But Gerrard's long-range screamer, Cole's dipping piledriver and Beckham's free kick were certainly entertaining to the millions of England fans who roared with delight up and down the country. Those three goals alone were magnificent. I feel sorry for anyone that was too busy forecasting doom in their reporter's notebook to celebrate.

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  • 19.
  • At 01:48 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Maina wrote:

Best moment:- the argentinian goal was pretty special-I won't it is the best ever because of the context-the opposition and it being group stage.
Biggest disappointment:-Brazil-even more so than England, they do have the players, but Perreira thought he would continue where he left off in 1994. Argentina-those substitutions against Germany were just weird-it also shows the folly of going back to bad habits. And finally, just the refreeing-a complete lack of common sense seemed to pervade the whole tournment.

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  • 20.
  • At 02:02 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Duffer wrote:

I think it's a sorry state of affairs for football when teams like Portugal and Italy are allowed to progress (and utimately win, in Italy's case) after displaying dishonest, blatant cheating throughout each and every one of their games.

We can single out individuals all we wants (C. Ronaldo anyone?) but at the end of the day the biggest disappointment for me was the quality of the refereeing.

FIFA's Eight Point Plan To A Better Tournament? I believe part of it was to stamp out diving, reckless tackles and feigning injury to halt play. Yet in every single game these instances occurred, all to frequently, and went unpunished. Instead, players were booked and in some cases dismissed for comparatively nothing.

A word on Zidane - ok, there are no excuses for what he did, but also we have to remember that there is no smoke without fire, and for someone like Zizou to lose it like he did shows the dishonesty and malicious intent of Materazzi - a player lucky to even get a game. For me, Zidane is and always will be a legend.

Finally, who did I feel deserved to win? I think Germany (even if I am English). For me they were the only team that performed consistently well, without the preening antics of the Italians or Portuguese. Good, honest football.

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  • 21.
  • At 02:09 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Michael wrote:

Phil,

You are a sorry excuse for a football journo if you cast Rooney and Zidane as your villains. If retaliation is unacceptable in football then so must racism and cheating be. A lot of people are angry about the fact some the highest paid, most talented sportsman in the world are not prepared to win by playing football alone. Some of the performances in this tournament were simply disgraceful.

Like so many sports Football is growing as entertainment and declining as a game. The performances of Ronaldo et al were more akin to WWE than football and that is so so sad.

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I really enjoyed this World CUp. I think Italy are worthy Champs - let me know what you think - I'll try and post results later today:
http://www.globalfutbol.com/poll_vote/1152487172_lnwjsgFJ

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  • 23.
  • At 02:17 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Steve Norman wrote:

I am fortunate enough to be able to remember this World Cup for the two games I attended, the England matches against Paraguay and Trinidad. Neither were good games necessarily but the atmosphere and excitement of attending a World Cup game will live long in the memory.
Sadly, that is pretty much the only thing that will live long in the memory from this decidely mediocre tournament.
Average games, involving average teams and a distinct lack of memorable moments. Yes, we will all recall countless swallow dives and Zidane's head butt, but are these the images that we want to recall from a World Cup?
It has been like watching the Premiership. Mediocre teams terrified of crossing the half way line.
We talk about the semi final as if it was a classic but in reality it was the bed of a bad bunch.
Roll on the 2008 Europeans, let's hope for better.....

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  • 24.
  • At 02:17 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Jessica wrote:

With the penalties given away at the drop of a hat undoubtedly they were the major drawing card for most teams getting through the tournament.
I do think Italy deserved to win the World Cup, with not one goal scored against them in this whole tournament, though i am still left to question whether the penalty given to italy when they played australia was a fair call.. Though as the story goes Italy are the champions and i am an Italian supporter so i am over the moon!
I must include that i believe that Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal was an outstanding player in the tournament and the british media have treated him poorly and i think that is quite unreasonable that he has to possibly move clubs, cause he scored the winning penalty and his English team mate committed a foul!
FORZA ITALIA

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  • 25.
  • At 02:38 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • John C wrote:

Phil,

Great article - full of honesty and objectivity, which I have rarely heard in the last month from the English media... and the months before that come to think of it.

Italy deserved the win. They are a team of quality footballers who can pass the ball properly from back to front. Technically fantastic.

Rooney has only got himself to blame. The current abuse of C Ronaldo is a disgrace. He is now one of top players, despite his youth, and will be a loss to the Premiership.

England are over-hyped. Simple as that. That wasn't news to me.

As for the criticism of Hargreaves, English journalists and fans alike should open their eyes to football outside England. It might improve the overall perspective and understanding of this great game.

Roll on 2010.

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  • 26.
  • At 02:43 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Tommy Saxondale wrote:

Speaking as an Englishman, when I think of our performances in this World Cup it makes me cringe. The most painful thing, and example of how badly they let themselves and the country down, is that they gave the rest of the world another chance to tut, shrug their shoulders, and say, "Those English really can't play football, can they." - Hugely disappointing. I'm not sure there has ever been a greater example of hype over substance (mind you, the "best since '70" Brazil team came close) and I even feel a little foolish for buying into it myself pre-competition.

Having said all that, the tournament as a whole was a fairly lame duck event in the end. Sadly the teams on the pitch were not able to live up to the wonderful organisation of the hosts.

Despite the fact that this World Cup has shown up the reality that a few egos and reputations are disproportionate to actual ability, I do feel that it's also an example of how the international game now languishes behind club football for entertainment and quality. On one level the spectacle of nations going head to head in the biggest competition of all remains the ultimate, but the actual football on show isn't up to scratch.

When in the last 20 years have you seen an international side that plays with the breathtaking speed, skill and fluency of, say, the Real Madrid and Arsenal sides of 2 or 3 years ago? It doesn't happen. Not even with Brazil. Thus the perfect example of why World Cup football, as enthralling as it is in other ways, remains largely lacking a real quality show where it matters most - on the pitch.

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  • 27.
  • At 02:45 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Dave t wrote:

The most astounding thing about the Great Man's dismissal in the final, was to read the Fifa defence of the ref. . 'no way did the referee consult the big screen. The fourth official saw it all.' The report then went on to confirm that a fifth official has a TV screen but is not allowed to influence any of the ref's decisions.

So what did we get this World Cup? A record amount of sendings off, many based on that old game of players' influencing refs. Penalties (as was the French pen in the final) influenced by diving players and in some cases players booked for diving that was clearly a penalty. All that can be seen by thousands in the stadium on the big screen and millions at home. If only, the referees were allowed to glance up. Why can't they? Is it to be considered as cheating on the referees part. Is it considered incompetent?

Being perhaps the only Englishman I know to follow the National Hockey League's Stanley Cup play offs in between this World Cup, I noted how referees consult a fourth official who can show the replays of incidences to help make the correct decision. A very high percentage of the time the refereee then makes the correct decision and you don't see irate players and coaches berating the referee after the final whistle. Also, each team is allowed to call the refs decision on any one play. If they are correct, they still carry that one. If they are wrong, they can't argue with any other decision. And this is in a sport watched by a majority of Canadians and a very small minority of Americans, (plus one Englishman). Video evidence is used in basketball and American football.

But the the most popular sport in the world? The greatest world sporting event? Come on Fifa, get yourself into the 21st century.

You'll find very few hockey fans who would disagree that Carolina, the eventual Stanley cup winners, were the best team. But I'm not so sure about Italy.

Bad decisions leads to disgruntled fans, players, coaches and a lot of bad blood. And that's all I've seen to come from this World cup.

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  • 28.
  • At 02:46 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Wess wrote:

To I H8 Soccer: and neither do posts like that.

The very fact you use the word 'soccer' means we don't want you watching it anyway.

Get back to your basketball and baseball. If you want boring sport, these 2 are light years ahead of anything else.

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  • 29.
  • At 02:46 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Francesco wrote:

Italy vs Germany.

I wish you non Italian fans to ever experience a match like that. That was history of football that was being written and I believe both teams felt it.
We won the WC in the semis against Germany.

CAMPIONI DEL MONDO

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  • 30.
  • At 02:50 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Michael wrote:

Tim (post 10), you're spot on! I can subscribe to your words 100%.

I also think that football-wise this world cup has been another disappointment - the new world champions bore the pants out of me. As did the Brazilians in 2002 though.

As for the atmosphere it has been absolutely amazing. I live in Stuttgart and the past four weeks have been a lot of fun. Croatia vs Australia was the best game supporter-wise. I actually watched it at the Schlossplatz and the atmosphere was just staggering.


However, public viewing - not my cup of tea. I don't see the point in standing on a square for the entire duration of a match, in boiling heat, like fish in a can, without much chance on something to drink. I prefer pub viewing!

I managed to go to one game, South Korea against Togo in Frankfurt. Good atmosphere but very poor football.

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  • 31.
  • At 02:56 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Anonymous wrote:

Obviously Australia does not meet the criteria of huge financial sponsoring from overseas so therefore why would referees allow an outside lower ranked country progress through to the world cup?.

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  • 32.
  • At 02:56 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Toby Toepoke. wrote:

The best things:

- Opening match: Wonderful spectacle, great goals, hosts delirious. After 4 years of waiting the world cup was up and running. That afternoon after the final whistle the most amazing feeling of anticipation for the coming 4 weeks overwhelmed us all.

- Germany: No other country can combine efficient organisation (stadia and transport), understanding of the footballing and non-footballing public, common sense, helpful and friendly volunteers, environmental awareness, a general need to succeed and to be loved. These things plus the greatest fast food on the planet (wurst and beer) is the reason why no one will ever, ever better this world cup.

- Stadia (but see below). Excellent facilities. All stadia different but all neat, clean, good facilities, good sitelines ... even cleaners making sure the marble-tiled loos in Frankfurt were kept clean during the match. Dortmund, Gelsenkircken, Munich, Hamburg and possibly Frankfurt and Cologne on my list for a return visit.

- Some of the football - Germany v Italy, Brazil v France, Argentina v Mexico. Ghana, Australia and Ivory Coast for giving it a good go.

- Fans from every country. Koreans for their retro football clothes (scarves around wrists) and great chanting complete with actions.

- FIFA for throwing their 'loose change' at Togo to ensure they didn't go home.

- Radio 5 Live: for stamina. All those commentaries, all those phone-ins. A 5 star service rarely less than excellent.

Worst things:

- The power of Sponsors, the excellent local produce being forced out of stadia and official fanfests in place of MacDonalds and Budweiser.

- Berlin Olympicstadion - An amazing piece of history, lovingly preserved, great outdoor spaces alongside ... but well below the high standard now expected: Poor sitelines (Cat2 tickets in Berlin had a worse view that Cat4 in Koln) and little atmosphere. Football grounds with running tracks shouyld be a thing of the past (Munich, Hamburg ...)

- Reffing, FIFA, cheats for overshadowing the good things. Nearly every match left a bitter taste. FIFA should surely step in to give retrospective punishments.

- The final - not bad, just unsatisfactory.

- Lawrenson and Shearer. Both good players in their time but stating the obvious is one thing, insulting the viewer's intelligence another.

- ah yes, England ... plus the entourage of coaches, know-it-alls, security, WAGs, fans, media. Just who do we think we are?
Something for us to learn from nearly every other team.

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  • 33.
  • At 02:56 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Wess wrote:

Francesco - history in the making is AC Milan, Juventus, Lazio and Fiorentina being relegated for match-fixing.

Italian football is a disgrace.

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  • 34.
  • At 03:08 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Dina wrote:

The biggest disappointment for me would be the Brazilian team.. We barely saw Ronaldinho..It was such a shame.. I'm Lebanese so I really didn't have any team to specifically support, but Brazil should have been different.. Well at least the Germans didn't win..

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  • 35.
  • At 03:08 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Robert_Miami wrote:

This was the "weirdest" World Cup todate. I've watched/been to them all since Germany in 1974. This World Cup is not just "weird" but it was boring. The ref's were very very poor. Maybe it is the good TV coverage which is allowing me to see all the non-called fouls? I do not know. But, being an American I always had to push "the beautiful game" and now it is not.. Maybe I'll return the next Cup, but right now I do not think so... Unless, they change the quality of the ref'ing, which at these games was very very poor..

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  • 36.
  • At 03:23 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Amanda wrote:

How was my World cup? I cannot decide. It was a mixed bag. The Ghananians did well. I believe all the exciting soccer went with them home back to Ghana.The Brazilians did exactly as I expected; played badly. I am wondering is it because they had so many stars, was it the coach or maybe they should have just benched Ronaldo and Ronaldinho and let the unkowns play. No matter, in my view they hd stayed too long. Ghana should have just booted them out then.

The Italians played well enough to ensure they win the final.However, their theatrical dives disgusted me to the fullest (Ronaldo and Portugal included).

And I really wonder what Materazzi said to get Z so mad. It must have been someting. Still he deserved the card and another on top.Figo had a lucky escape than Zidane.

As for England, I am sorry I think the coach was just out to prove something though I dont know what. I dont think the players were bad jus Sven. Advice to England admin: Get a good coach soon. The likes of steve and lampard are excellent players.

Some smallteams impressed me such as Australia, USA and Angola. They played well in my books.

The refereeing was awful to say the least. Being non-tolerant doesnt mean you have to be card trigger happy. Th referees seemed to lack good jusgement and failed to read the games they were handling. There out of sync with the players. Being a referee, one has to practice good judgement and discerning. Some of those dives and fake injuries were good acting

After all this cant decide how this world cup was.

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  • 37.
  • At 03:26 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Francesco wrote:

Wess:

the trial in Italy is a different thing. If you put it on the same ground, I am afraid to tell you that also French players (Thuram, Zidane and Trezeguet)could be involved because they played for Juventus.

The point is Italian FA might be a mess but on the football pitch (and not in court) we won this worldcup.

I might also suspect that when money, power and competition are involved there is a high potential for bribes and so on. I don't want to know what happens in England - Germany - Spain and so on.
At least we're trying to clean the scene.

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  • 38.
  • At 03:29 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • StuartB wrote:

Phil McNulty:
If I were going to nominate any "villains" in this WC, I think it would be you and your colleagues in the British media. Rarely have I read so many articles full of rancour and spite. Words like "crass" "disgraceful" "folly" "inept" "hapless" "unforgiveable" are peppered around in the desperate attempt to denigrate everybody in sight, it seems. The WAGS circus certainly seems to have been a distraction to the journos, if nobody else, but there's a deep seam of NewsoftheWorld hypocrisy here: "We are shocked and disgusted but it is our public duty to report these degrading details". Frankly, I've no interest in how young millionaires' wives spend their money, and does anybody else?
Graham Poll's three yellow card mistake was certainly highly embarrassing for him, but why were the press gloating about it? And am I alone in feeling that the British press were actually revelling in England's discomfiture, in some sort of masochistic way?

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  • 39.
  • At 03:46 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Kevin wrote:

I agree the tournament was poor and probably the worst I have watched ('86 onwards) and there has been a significant change in entertainment and approach since WC98 and Euro 2000 (the best two tournaments in recent history). WC02 was saved by the amount of shocks going on, but Euro 2004 was disappointing and this world cup has been totally forgettable - one team winning on penalties was a suitable anti-climax. A lot has been made of the poor referees and the constant cheating, but this could have been all overshadowed by more positive teams.

I don't buy the Germany-Italy classic. I agree extra time was exciting (only because Italy were desperate to avoid penalties), but the majority of normal time was uneventful. The better games of the tournament were Ghana v Czech, Argentina v Mexico, Australia v Japan and in other ways Holland v Portugal; but the best game (and the only classic) was undoubtedly Australia v Croatia - a game with everything and the only match were both teams seemed desperate to win. Thanks to the Brazil obsessed BBC this was shuffled on to BBC3 so they could chat about Ronaldo's waistline instead.

The player of the tournament could be any of Italy's defence, inparticular Zambrotta and Grosso who demonstrated superb full back play - can you imagine G Neville opening the scoring in the quarter final and A Cole doing the same in the semi; but for me the unsung player of the tournament was Lucas Neill who outstandingly organised the Australian defence and transformed himself from an average Premiership full back to a world class centre back.

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  • 40.
  • At 03:51 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Ashley wrote:

where were Scotland?

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  • 41.
  • At 04:07 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Alex wrote:

In my opinion it was not one of the best world cups, and I have a gut feeling that it is going to be the lowest scoring WC of all time. Then again, that just shows that tactics were sound in most cases. I disagree with FIFA's choice to name Zidane the player of the tournament and not because of his headbutt, but because he played well for roughly 2 matches (Brazil & Spain) in the group stages he was diar, and in the semis he did nothing, apart from score a penalty, and the final- well need I say. I feel it should have gone to Fabio Cannavaro- who played well throughout- I honestly don't think he made a mistake at all and was superb- as you said, a worthy lifter of the trophy.

As for England- utterly awful!

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  • 42.
  • At 04:11 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • vanessa wrote:

I have watched world cup finals since the early 70's and I have to say this one was specially dissappointing .. While maybe the Italians did what needed to be done to win, they are no champions in my book... Not sure why all the complaining about the English team, in a world cup that was mediocre at best, they were not all that bad... Where did all the good strikers go?... Am I the only one to notice that we did not have fabulous goals?(did enjoy Beckhams' goal though) or a race for the most goals by an individual or that for the most part the finalists were not playing artful, entertaining football... Maybe it's just me and the fact that I thought the objective of the game was to make goals (therefore play ATTACKING football) ... If on the other hand football has become a game where the objective is only to defend and not to allow goals, then hooray for Italy, for in that sense they are true champions
oh, well there's always hope for South Africa

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  • 43.
  • At 04:28 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Dan Smith wrote:

The one point i would make is you can't have it both ways. If England are overhyped then Sven has done a very good job in getting to three quarter finals and deserves some credit.

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  • 44.
  • At 04:34 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Tex wrote:

Fantastic world cup. Sorry it's over. Some of the best goals I've seen. Many great games. Drama from start to finish. Pre-tournament favourites nowhere. That is the joy of live football. No-one knows what will happen. Anything can, and in this case often did.

The world cup is all about drama and excitement, and we had plenty of that. Nails bitten down at penalty shoot-outs; last minute goals; crucial injuries; mad referees; despair; joy; outrage; jubilation.

I watched it all and am glad I did. Exhausting!

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  • 45.
  • At 04:34 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Alessio wrote:

As italian supporter my judgement about this World Cup is biased of course. It is a typical italian attitude to say that everything was a success in case of victory and everything was a disaster in case of defeat. :-)
Nevertheless I think that Italy deserved this victory or at least it didn't deserved it less than the other main opponents. Germany play a good football but we beated them with honour in the definitely best game of the tournament. France didn't play such a stratospherical football, often ever more defensive than Italy, give a look to the games against Brasil and Portugal. And in the final they were also very naive in not scoring the winning goal, if they were so stronger than Italy.
The general level of the tournament was lower than what expected, I think because of too many mediatic pressures on the teams which affected the performances of the should-be brightest stars. If a player has a group behind him he can hold that, otherwise he's just squeezed by the responsabilities. Italy showed the importance of having a well-glued group, facing the internal polemics arising for the well-known scandal. Brasil, on the other side, never gave the idea of being a real team and the result was under everybody's eyes.
I live in Germany and I can tell you that the response of the people was huge and wonderful. I think that the attitude of the german people was definitely the best highlight of this WC, absolutely outstanding for passion and involvment. Vielen danke and see all of you in South Africa.

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  • 46.
  • At 04:38 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Hamza from London wrote:

What a load of rubbish, some of you have written here...........

1) Zidan was a disgrace, he deserved red card, doesn't matter matarazi said something or not (and we don't know, he did or not)

2) Matarazi played really well in the match itself, he scored a great goal, and defended well (was unlucky on Pen, it wasn't a Pen)

3) Italy deserved to win the world cup, coz of their great defence and technical ability (and I,m England supporter by the way)

4) Some of the Aussies here think they are hard done by, they need to learn football (I mean SOCCER, lol) quickly, as if you fall infront of a forward in penality box, its rubbish defending, and asking for trouble, as that aussie found out by conceding a penality (give the italian guy a chance to fall over him)

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  • 47.
  • At 04:42 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • justin wrote:

it was an enjoyable world cup.well done to the azzuri,deserved winners.well done to klinsman and his team for putting pride back into german football...and well done to the english wags whos greed and gluttony made me realise you cant buy class or style.they were a disgrace to their country with their spending binges and yobbish behaviour...with the exeption of victoria beckham and cheryel tweedy who were ladies as always, it easy to see that they have earned their own fortunes through their own carrers.....unlike their concil estate counterparts whos only duty is to lie on their backs to earn their keep

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  • 48.
  • At 04:44 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • spoz wrote:

pretty much spot on Phil but would say that i have enjoyed this World Cup - probably because there has been no great team or player.

All the teams in the last 8, England included, will look back and think if only. In the end Italy's defensive strength and Cannavarro in particular won out.

Biggest disappointment - Brazil by far - played the all-star 11 when better players were on the bench, never looked like keeping out a top class striker nor scoring against a well drilled defence. England as ever over hyped and over criticised in almost equal measure, and Argentina vaunted for there 6-0 demolition of S&M rather than appraised on the 2-1's v Ivory Coast and Mexico.

Villians? Too many to mention, when truely gifted players like Ronaldo (sorry but it is him) and Robben, Figo et al are talked about more for diving than playing football you have to wonder what they and their managers talk about on the training pitch. The semi-final display by Ronaldo was probably the worst collection of dives by a single player in 90 mins.

These players are the bane of modern football and every bit as unacceptable as the thuggish behaviour of Zidane.

Overall an open World Cup and looking forward to 2010 and all that

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  • 49.
  • At 04:44 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Aaron wrote:

Poor quality, poor tournemant.

With all FIFA's medling, over a period of time they have made the "beautiful game" terrible.

They favour attackers over the artful defenders, they confuse referee's and players alike, and, they condone cheating.

It pains me to say it but International Football and the Champions League are a joke... a bit like Heavy Weight Boxing.

I'll stick to domestic football thanks.

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  • 50.
  • At 04:52 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • spoz wrote:

one more thing

Will this finally be the end of the "sporting" kick the ball out of play practice when a player falls over???

It must of happened half a dozen times each game and to my knowledge other than a groggy Henry in the final, no-one turned out to be the least bit hurt!!!

The only seriously injured player was Owen - who crawled off the pitch while play continued

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  • 51.
  • At 05:00 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • mim wrote:

The rules of footbal are to score goals, and if you cant score goals you dont deserve to win, Zidane scored a penalty because of a mistake of the refery, but italy scored by themself,
Italy deserved to win

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  • 52.
  • At 05:28 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Andy wrote:

Well done Germany, this was an awesome world cup. Highlights for me were watching Ghana and Australia, no big names or wallets, just winning attitudes. The downer for me was watching Italy prove that when 'attitude' isn't enough, a well timed dive will get you through ( why isn't the 4th official brought in on penalty kicks?? ) As for the English, despite what this guy says, England did ok, they got to where they should have then got beaten by a better team. People who expected more should stop reading tabloids. Here's an article that sums it up nicely:
http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/sport/football/s/217/217286_england_need_a_hefty_dose_of_realism.html

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  • 53.
  • At 06:12 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Paul wrote:

Now take your English glasses off and give us a realistic set of awards...

I mean, best performance Hargreaves? Give us a break. Biggest villian Rooney? You're having a laugh, you did watch Zidane in the final didn't you?

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  • 54.
  • At 06:14 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • rup wrote:

dont agree with the villain award paul

leave rooney alone. after being harassed by 3 portugese players he had to go down at some point only to get himself a red card. LOOK AT THE FOOTAGE.

zidane deserved the award.

I dont think ronaldo did, but the entire portugese team instead.

ps not justa biased england fan but i am fed up beating around the politically correct bush.

ps again leave poor rooney alone

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  • 55.
  • At 06:22 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Ben wrote:

An average World Cup in my humble opinion.

First things first though....does anyone know what that poem was that the beeb used as part of their World Cup montage last night? By Goeth, I believe?

All the teams that could have done better (Argentina, Brazil, even England) didn't really play with any passion and that was their ultimate undoing. Argentina peaked too soon, Brazil thought they could just turn and up win, England....oh, England...

The refereeing was diabolical..... the Mexican chap who wanted to stop England getting drinks in their first match, Graham Poll (what were you thinking, Graham??)....too much else to mention.

The gamesmanship running through most teams (Portugal did seem to be the worst) was absolutely awful. We can single out C. Ronaldo but he wasn't the only one and he certainly wasn't to blame for Rooney getting sent off, that was Rooney's fault, just as it was only Zidane's fault for Zidane's sending off.

I wouldn't go so far to call them villains - the biggest villains of this World Cup were Sven (Taking Walcott? Not taking Darren Bent or Defoe, gambling on Rooney and Owen, neither of whom were match fit? NICE ONE!) and the English WAGS. Pathetic. God knows who wants to see news reports about them, but someone does somewhere.

Still, it was good to see "lesser" teams like Australia, Ghana, Ivory Coast and the USA all actually plahing with some fire. (The US showed more passion in their game against Italy than we English managed all tournament.)

Could waffle on about this but have said enough for now.
Overall, well done BBC, much better than ITV (Worldcuppa? Stick it thanks!), Adrian Chiles is the best thing you've got, bring him, Desailly and Leonardo back next time.

Roll on Euro 2008! Roll on South Africa 2010!

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  • 56.
  • At 06:46 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Rui wrote:

To be honest, I am very disappointed at how because of a spoilt brat (Ronaldo), Portuguese are now the vilains of the World Cup. Malouda dives for a penalty in the final, Henry cheated against Brazil, Van Bommel waits for 2 seconds before being slightly touched in the head by Figo (who should nonetheless have received a red card) and then falls like having been shot, even Lampard dove against Equador, etc., but only Portuguese (and now Italians) have "antics", are cheaters, etc. How can Raymond Domenech look himself in the mirror when he spent the match against Portugal gesturing against the dives of the Portuguese (whether they were actually diving or not...) and pretend that he did not see Henry waiting for 2 seconds before falling down in the penalty? Why are the Portuguese the violent ones when both red cards against the Netherlands are actually two+two yellow cards, in both cases for normal fouls and hands on the ball (no karate kicks like an Iranian against Figo or Boulharouz against Ronaldo). For the English people who even say it is a pity that the Portuguese dove and cheated so much, because you love us, love to spend holidays here, etc., please note that the overwhelming feeling in Portugal is that yes, Ronaldo and sometimes others (Postiga, etc.) cheat, and maybe Ronaldo cheats more than the average, but many other countries do it and we are full of the contempt of "big nations" such as England of France, who can't stand being beaten by the poor Portuguese (Domenech was the coach of the sub-21 French team who lost the presence in the Olympics to Portugal 2 years ago). Apparently Portuguese should dedicate themselves to being housekeepers and taxi drivers, like the poor little beggars we are...

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  • 57.
  • At 06:54 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • ogorman wrote:

This is all nonsense, I don't care about England's abject performance anymore: I'd have written you an essay on it a few weeks ago.

I'll remember Germany 06 as the time I finally fell out of love with football. I have had this creeping feeling of disgust for a game I grew up loving for a while now, last night was my final straw, I cracked like Zizou, who knows why now, just my limit I suppose.

Cheating is now so rife it is simply a game I can't devote any time to anymore, it's lost all meaning. Klinsmann the man who re-invented diving as an art form as man of the tournament! That says it all. The rehabilitation of a reputation takes a bit less long now, we last night crowned a world cup winner taking part 5 games after he elbowed McBride of the USA in the face, blatantly and a potentially blinding attack and it didn't get a mention. Pundits many guilty of similar acts themselves as players (Shearer anyone) are hypocritical with not a flicker of irony when it happens but it's forgotten next week which tells you how they really feel.

The game is run entirely and almost openly corruptly by FIFA and they and everyone else involved is addicted to cheating: bent and self serving execs, ticket touting officials to players diving and feigning injury, blind or apologist managers (and fans)and commentators for their own side. Even the convention of kicking the ball out for an injured player is now perverted, how low is that. The whole thing is effectively condoned by the football media through silence or flippancy.

Call me an old fart blaming the wrong people but I don't care who or what is to blame anymore, money, media, administrators, players, no one is innocent anymore: sunday players and kids have even got it, the game is dying. I can't remember a moment of sportsmanship on a pitch, I can't name one player who is untainted. Who is a fair player that shows opponents or refs respect? Find one and his manager will soon knock it out of him, or he'll be pilloried. Perhaps some spontaneous backlash will start one day, a few high profile people prepared to suffer a bit to try and turn it round it seems there is no chance of the game legislating it out but until that day count me out.

The images of football I had as a kid were yes, soppy stuff like Pele's bicycle kick and the longhaired flair of Best and Bowles but also of hard and sometimes dirty players, Harris and Hunter. I aspired to both at different times. I might be deluded but was there at least something more honest and pure in that Game. My boy's have Owen, Henry or C Ronaldo in full swan dive or Roy Keane's face 1 inch from the refs screaming abuse.

Zidane. I don't know the man's character but he's a victim of the environment in football one way or the other like Cantona before him. Maybe the moment of madness is easier to live with than being a knowing catalyst or conscious cheat, if you have any conscience. Whatever no one will come out of it well, which says it all about the state of football.

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  • 58.
  • At 06:57 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • cronz wrote:

who ever thinks italy is not deserving of this world cup,never understood soccer and never will,you only watch soccer every 4 years then you complain because your team got robbed by officials.its about time they won,and they should have won in 98 and 90.so dont act like we came from nowhere.give credit when credits do.italia!italia!italia!ps stop hattin!

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  • 59.
  • At 07:28 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Eric wrote:

The match was a Chess game.
The Opening
Henri shamed and got the Referee's attention.
Thus the Referee reacted and gave the non deserving Penalty.

This threw the Italian Game off the French opening worked well.

The end Game belonged to The Italians
in tickling Zidane and getting him out and easing the French Pressure and getting the Referee on their side.

The final was a game played with the
Head and not with the Feet.

Eric - Montreal.

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  • 60.
  • At 07:47 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • corpster wrote:

4 -5 - 1 is killing entertaining football.

So many teams had the formation but the most entertaining football was the germans with 4 -4 -2 !!

Even Brazil were drab and were just as disapointing as England..

The final summed up the world cup won by a team with the talent tp play great football but ended up happy to play for penaltys..

Lets hope Euro 2008 is better ..

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  • 61.
  • At 08:06 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Allan Evans wrote:

The "flop" has been the worst part of the World Cup. Clearly the yellow caution for diving doesn’t work. If FIFA would only institute some reforms, maybe review each game tape and issue fines and/or suspensions for diving, and then possibly--gratefully--this would diminish the number of dives. This would allow the games to continue as before without the NFL-style timeouts for video review. But finally there would be penalties for the player who throws himself to the ground, making a fool of themselves and a mockery of our beautiful game.

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  • 62.
  • At 08:28 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Maria C wrote:

And again the Portuguese and Italians (and maybe the Spanish too, should they have moved forward...) are all a bunch of cheaters and divers and so on. The good and honest football is just played by the English. Pity they can't score a simple pen. Or two. Or three...
The Maniche's goal against Holland, or Ricardo’s ability to save those pen was just small details.
There is one difference, though. The English team did cope bravely for 90 min 10 against 11, and they had the saddest reception at home. They ought to be just the best or then covered with shame. The Portuguese squad had a huge party arriving home as 4th is good. Is great. We do not need to be the best, just better than ourselves...And what a party that was!

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  • 63.
  • At 09:32 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • alanf wrote:

The yellow card system and penalties to win, made the World Cup so much less interesting. The intention of the yellow cards to stop the unfair harrassment of forwards and enable more goals has had the opposite affect. Coachs packed the midfield to stop advancement, instead of relying on tackles, inevitably followed by diving.So the forwards that dived have negated the protection they were given and no longer deserve such forbidding protection.

From an English point of view, the Portuguese defender clearly had tackled, pushed and held Rooney from behind,but because Rooney stayed on his feet no whistle was given! Interesting failure by the refereee.

Regarding penalties;,I don't seee how
we can believe Italy won the World Cup,when it was through penalties!
Italy were very good, but never won the World Cup on the field of play,but after the play was over.
Rather than having "unlucky' teams lose ,we need a new system after extra time ends in a draw. Maybe the golden goal after the first 15 minute period of extra time? Or maybe a simnple points system as in a boxing match. 3 points for hitting the post or bar, 2 for a shot on target and 1 for a shot that hits the netting in some way. without a bounce, corners might win a point.This way we can see the points state of the game and defending teams will be encouraged to attack! And teams now defending and playing for penalties will see
they have to attack.

Finally I think the cards have made the referees too happy to be the centre of attraction and have interrupted the flow of play. This has resulted in a lack of rythm to the games.So much so,that a very large percentage of goals are coming from set pieces.Is this intentional by the game's governing bodies to stop play for commercials on television,is that where we are heading? Or is to become more like American Football where the game is stopped after every play!

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  • 64.
  • At 09:33 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • KRB wrote:

Glad you finally came around re: Hargreaves. He is a very good player, super fit. Any mention of Phil Neville against Owen Hargreaves should be banished now.

Seems to me the teams that advanced deep in this tournament, played with two defensive midfielders, or with one destroyer and one deep-lying playmaker.

Italy - Gattuso and Pirlo
France - Makelele and Vieira
Portugal - Maniche and Costinha

Agreed that Pekerman blew it taking Riquelme off. Argentina were in full control of that game at that point.

As for England, I'm tired of the excuses. Nothing can substitute for success. Forget the excuses (Crouch: we were too tired for penalties? Well, that's usually the way after playing 120 minutes Peter!!!), England failed, and failed badly.

England have not beaten a top-tier team in a knockout match (a do-or-die situation for both teams) in regular or extra-time in a major tourney since a 1968 Euro QF against Spain, and not in a single-elimination game since the 1966 WC Final.

That stat makes for horrible reading for any England fan. Since you'll always have to beat at least one big gun on the way to any major trophy, it's not surprising that it marks a totally barren spell for England during that time (20 tournaments!). Simply not acceptable.

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  • 65.
  • At 09:41 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Garrett wrote:

Worst Coach: Bruce Arena (USA)
Although no one but americans (and quite often no one at all) pays attention to the US squad, they were horribly misrespresented in the tournament. They were by far not a championship worthy side but if Arena had made a few less stupid decisions they should have easily been through to fave brazil in the round of sixteen at least. I can only hope he'll be out as soon as possible so the US national team can continue to progress. (slowly but surely)

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  • 66.
  • At 11:04 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Steve Jones wrote:

I think the four weeks has been fantastic ... probably because I live here in Stuttgart.
A great city got even better, and truly felt special with people from all over the World.
Game highlight was the Germany versus Italy game and the lowlight, the 'fan trouble' from the small number of England idiots intent on singing war songs in Stuttgart.
My kids got to see many games at the FanFest and loved every minute, really developing a love for the game which was not really there before.
Just got one problem now: need to catch up on all the work I havent done in the last four weeks .. and just watched an episode of Eastenders ..comeback England v Paraguay. Maybe the game wasn't so boring after all

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  • 67.
  • At 11:25 PM on 10 Jul 2006,
  • Eduardo wrote:

I must say that only stupidity or a really biased view can justify the Portugal&C. Ronaldo= the cheaters speech. It's really annoying reading the portrait of your own nation as "the cheaters" especially when is really unfair.
As you could see in the final, France (the latest Britain's biggest friend)won a penalty in a dive (Malouda), won against Spain with a free kick resulting from a dive (Henry), won against Portugal with a dive (it's a penalty for sure but it's also a dive from Henry). In the final, the italian players demanded for Zidane to be sent off, just like Ronaldo supposedly did, and must i say very rightfully. By this i'm trying to make a point that there's diving and unsportive behaviour in every team and if i had looked it up i would had found it in England in large quantities (the animal stepover by rooney, Crouch grabbing the T&T player by the hair, just for a start).
Most sorry for beating you 3rd time in a row but that´s football. Don't be a child England, loosing like a man it's real Fair-Play. You're doing exectly the same thing Scolari did blaming the referee for the lost against France.
As for Ronaldo, if he's not appreciated in the UK he will find easily a place where a good football player is appreciated, and he is one of the best the world and for me the best player playing in England alongside Henry (certainly no cheater).
Bravo Italia - Fair winners of the World Cup. I would like to praise Pirlo and Gattuso, the best midfield of the world. Forca Portugal.

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  • 68.
  • At 02:09 AM on 11 Jul 2006,
  • SD wrote:

My God, they forced you to watch "Revolver"??? Well, at least you didn't have to watch "Swept Away"... Consider yourself lucky!

As for World Cup, the most exciting games were definitely Mexico-Argentina, Portugal-England,Germany-Italy. The final was a bit boring for me, except for the last 10 minutes (Zidane's insane moment and the shoot-outs). But, overall, I thought it was a lackluster tournament. Missed the drama, the excitement, the impossible goals, the display of talent from players every second (not every once in a while); it had a bit of all these but it never really reached a climax.

Also, this world cup has provided us some of the most bizarre refereeing ever seen. FIFA should take all the blame for not being able to set some decent criteria for the referees to follow. After Ivanov's embarassing and lunatic ref in Portugal-Holland I noticed how all the refs were scared of showing cards as if they had received some dire warning from FIFA "Thou must not punish too harshly or we shall rip your heads off".

My team was Portugal and I'm very proud of them. 4th place is excellent and by the time they finished they were exhausted and heartbroken, but gave their all.

I was a bit infuriated by the way the english press portrayed them as cheaters, but then I realized that every time the english lose with Portugal, it's the same aggressive attitude. So, why bother to argue? This time it cost Ronaldo the Young Player Award. But he still has his youth, dazzling talent and in time he'll mature and someday will reach his zenith as Figo reached in 2000 (I hope).

It will be very strange and sad not to watch Figo or Pauleta play anymore. I grew up watching those two play in every match. They will be missed.

If Scolari had been chosen as England's coach, I wonder what would have been the english reaction. Would they still talk of the portuguese as cheaters? Bah, who cares. We were voted as the most entertaining team of the tourney and won lots of admirers from all over the world.

Oh just one more thing. As for BBC coverage, it was great until England lost. Then I sensed it all started going downhill (your coverage of France-Portugal was horrible) and fortunately recovered in time for the big finale. Some of the BBC pundits were hateful, but the "hate prize" goes to Shearer and Terry Butcher (there's another one but I keep forgetting his name).

And yet, this blog was great! It was very funny and I loved reading the backstage stories, incidents and adventures. (The Svan adventure by Fletcher and Ricco just cracked me up but you all contributed for a good blog).

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  • 69.
  • At 02:32 AM on 11 Jul 2006,
  • Paul wrote:

Roll on the Premiership!

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  • 70.
  • At 03:57 AM on 11 Jul 2006,
  • Ted wrote:

The Italians Invented football, brought it to Enland with the Romans, The Romans founded London, the Italians designed the world cup trophy, and have won it four times, they are the best, you know its true, even their referees are better!, not to mention their food, clothing & cars. They deserved to win! Australia will flog England in the next world cup final!

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  • 71.
  • At 09:44 AM on 11 Jul 2006,
  • Markus wrote:

@Ted (#70): Italian CARS? You must be kidding! I once owned a Fiat and swore to myself to never buy an Italian car again...;-).

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  • 72.
  • At 10:10 AM on 11 Jul 2006,
  • Gustavo wrote:

Great World Cup!!!!

I have to say Italy was the best TEAM. They did not depend on one player but they were a very cohesive group. They deserved. Sorry for you too blind to see it.

Brazil was a dissapoint. They have the players to became Champions but I guess they were to confident that they will be in Berlin for the Final that they forgot their Jogo Bonito.

Zizou was a great player its sad he lost his nerve in the last game, still he had a great tournament. France lost the final cause they were to dependable on Zizou.

Finaly the best game Germany against Italy, what a nerve braking game.

I think we all owe Germany our thanks for organizing the best World Cup of recent times and for displaying a great football on the picth. All their players have trigger for long distance goals, just ask Frings ans Swentsteiger!! Klinsi should stay.

And the best player.... without a doubt Fabio Cannavaro!!! What a defence. The way he recovered the ball, he himself have clear, to begin the play of Italy's second goal against Germany just show how Italy wanted the World Cup!!

WELL DESERVED ITALY, DANKE DEUTSCHLAND!!

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  • 73.
  • At 11:20 AM on 11 Jul 2006,
  • Marchius wrote:

well...
I was really disappointed when I didn't see mr Blatter on the "stage" to give Fabio Cannavaro the cup. The regulation says it must be the president of Fifa to give the trophy. Where was Blatter? I think he doesn't like Italy, like many others in the world, also because Zidane was chosen as the best player. In my opinion Cannavaro was the best, also before Zidane Headbutted Materazzi. And after that he ruined his World Cup (which was excellent). And it seems to be more important the bad "action" of Zidane than Italy's victory. We prefer talking about bad things rather than sport, beautiful sport.
what a shame

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  • 74.
  • At 11:21 AM on 11 Jul 2006,
  • Marchius wrote:

well...
I was really disappointed when I didn't see mr Blatter on the "stage" to give Fabio Cannavaro the cup. The regulation says it must be the president of Fifa to give the trophy. Where was Blatter? I think he doesn't like Italy, like many others in the world, also because Zidane was chosen as the best player. In my opinion Cannavaro was the best, also before Zidane Headbutted Materazzi. And after that he ruined his World Cup (which was excellent). And it seems to be more important the bad "action" of Zidane than Italy's victory. We prefer talking about bad things rather than sport, beautiful sport.
what a shame

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  • 75.
  • At 11:45 AM on 11 Jul 2006,
  • brian wrote:

I agree with almost everything the article has said. Sven was useless and has been for nearly six years. The Germans organised the tournement brilliantly. There was too much cheating and poor refereing. Just surprised that no one has mentioned Englands 10 men heroics against Portugal. When they were the better team despite being a man short and played with the sort of character and commitment that Sven seemed incapable of inspiring during all of his period as coach.

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  • 76.
  • At 02:17 PM on 11 Jul 2006,
  • Anonymous wrote:

#57 ogorman - right on, one of the best analyses I've read anywhere of this World Cup and where the game is going - down the drain...

#67 Eduardo - can you Portuguese people please stop making out that the whole of England is blaming Ronaldo for England getting knocked out? - we don't, we blame Sven, rightly or wrongly.

We just don't like Ronaldo, because of his behaviour. And if you bothered to listen to the crowds at the Portugal-Germany and -France games, you will notice that the English aren't the only people to have taken a particular dislike to this guy. Of course other people cheat (I refer to #57, because it seems to have reached epidemic proportions), but the Portuguese have undoubtedly been the worst at this in this World Cup - understandably given their lack of attacking penetration.

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  • 77.
  • At 02:25 PM on 11 Jul 2006,
  • Chris Twaddle wrote:

ogorman #57 - the best comment I have read from anyone anywhere about this World Cup.

Eduardo #67 - get over it, most English don't blame Ronaldo for us getting knocked out, we blame Sven. We don't like Ronaldo because he's a diving, cheating, cynical twat - and, from watching the Portugal-Germany and -France games, we are obviously not the only ones who think that.

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  • 78.
  • At 03:13 PM on 11 Jul 2006,
  • woll wrote:

Kev Post 39: If the Italians were so keen to avoid penalties in the semi; why have others since suggested they played for them in the Final?????

That game was a cracker and was the only one which generated any real excitement for me as a neutral. Part of it was down to the way it was reffed, the rest was due to the players who gave it their all. My one real critisism of the Italians, is that they didn't [or couldn't] continue where they left off. Surely as football players first and foremost, they must have enjoyed that feeling after the German game more?

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  • 79.
  • At 03:27 PM on 11 Jul 2006,
  • littlesaint wrote:

I think this blog has ended things on a better note and it is showing that English and Portuguese fans are coming to an understanding. The first Portuguese poster seem to have things in more in proportion about their team's conduct and Maria C's comments about the English teams performance with 10 men and the lack of appreciation in England are spot on.

Therefore I think there are lessons to be learned for many of teams.

England: To play as a team, to leave the WAGs at home and to stop wingeing. Our press needs to sort itself out too.

Germany: Not much to learn really, but other countries should take on board what good hosts they have been and do likewise.

Brazil: To learn not to underestimate aging oppositing teams.

Ghana : They can live with anyone in the world. WIth a bit more confidence and luck they could even beat Brazil.

France: Will have to come to terms with the fact that they may have to wait a while before they have another chance to win a major trophy.

Switzerland: Not to play for penalties.

Portugal: Hopefully Figo's successors will teach some of his teammates to have more respectf for opposing players and turn Portugal into beacons of fair play. Then the Portuguese will have a team that they deserve and can truly be proud of.


Ronaldo: He will win a lot of respect a la Beckham if he sticks it out in England and wins the fans over.

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  • 80.
  • At 01:07 AM on 12 Jul 2006,
  • bobbylebonfire wrote:

Aside from the football, a german blogger somewhere on these blogs after the portugal game who posted something along the lines of " for you tommy ze war is over, but zis time zer vill be no escape because ve haf sabotaged ze motorcycles und you are condemned to four more years of vot might haf been!" I think it was marcus. So funny and maybe they are even winning in the humour stakes. Thank you that man!

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  • 81.
  • At 01:41 AM on 12 Jul 2006,
  • Marlon wrote:

Italy, Argentina and Germany delivered a high quality modern football and showed great character. After a disappointing WC in 2002 it seems this WC is the beginning of a new era in modern football.

Italy: deserved winners, solid defence, outstanding attacking power, capable of implementing different tactics, a team with a great character. A true modern football Thanks to Lippi!

Argentina: The fastest football has ever been played, good defence, a team full of skill full players who played with passion and awareness, a team with a great character.

Germany: well organised, magnificent attacking power, improved amazingly during the tournament, had a poor defence at the beginning and gradually improved it to the top level, played with passion and their soul. Again, a team with a great character

Brazil: A bunch of useless talented boys and oldies, incapable of playing simple football (not mentioning Faties!). No character, no passion, no beauty, no impressive tactic. Quarter final was more than enough for them.

France: Bunch of arrogant old footballers who in their best shape played a copy of Italian football in 90s (but they did it well), was the downside of the tournament to see them in the final.

Portugal: a squad of great players with a crap coach who turn them to a bunch of divers!

England: again a squad of great players with a crap coach who turned them to a bunch of useless players. Beside that, Rooney deserved to be sent off. No doubt about it.

Zidane: Sorry for him, but he deserved the red card. Technically he has been the best player of his generation, but no character, never.

People tend to talk about his success with France in WC 1998 and Euro 2000, but the fact is the real person behind those trophies was not Zidane (of course he played a vital role) but it was the French captain Deschamps who was a top level decent fooballer with a strong charaecter. After Deschamps French have not been able to win any major tournaments. So in fact he was the golden boy and his retirment was the end to France glory.


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  • 82.
  • At 04:58 AM on 12 Jul 2006,
  • franz schuller wrote:

well, i have to agree with you, most importantly about the overall lameness of the tournament as of the knock-out stage. anyone who calls 2006 a quality world cup, clearly hasn't been watching for very long, count up the goals from open play in regulation time starting in the quarter finals and find a world cup that predates the 90's where this has happened...
The biggest villain for me is "modern football", this uncanny need, nay addiction, to play endless uber-cautious defense/negate the oppostion, totally uninspiring football the minute the mere possibility of ELIMINATION, that big horrible word, makes it appearance. i am a big football fan, i watch it year-round on an almost daily basis and i was so bummed-out by the quarter finals, i had lost the desire to watch the rest. that can't be good for the game. the only other time this has happened, club or country, was during the all too obvious hire the poor, unknown ref from a third world country to make woeful decisions and help the host country korea progress debacle.
Sure argentina were the most fun to watch, but with a 1-0 lead, (1-0...and a half-hour to play) they remove their 2 most dangerous weapons...
Brazil...killed by parreira, he had them play crappy counter-attacking football in '94 and this time it failed. miserably.
England? 4-5-1, 'nuff said.
France? despite what some say, i found them boring and fortunate to get as far. for all those who feel they were unlucky to lose, let's look at the facts: in the final 2 games, they failed to score a single goal from open play, even with 120 minutes and the whole of the host nation behind them in the final.
the italy-germany game probably was the (only) best game of the knockout stages:
Germany did what we hope others will do in 2010, play with heart and true enterprise, above thier ability, not cautious, meek and well below thier ability (see above)
Italy did what they always do balance out team-oriented play with some offense and more defense, and frankly, let's be fair, no one was able to beat them. In fact, itlay did not surrender a single open-play goal to the opposition in the entire tournament
they deserve to be champions. but where were the others???
let's hope 2010 brings back the flair and spirit of football we were graced with for the 1st 60-odd years of the tournament.

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  • 83.
  • At 05:46 AM on 12 Jul 2006,
  • Ted wrote:

I found an old video casette from the 98 world cup down behind an old cupboard, it was strange watching it because the commentators sounded like they were talking about the current world cup, they just looked younger!

the comments about diving & milking penalties etc were exactly the same, France won that one over Brazil, vicious rumours were floating about on how the Brazilians were poisened with dodgy croissants...
conspiracy theories, it was a reminder that things never really change when it comes to human nature & football, ya gotta love it!

can't wait for thew next one, who will materazzi sledge in south africa, will zidane continue playing so his career ends on a high, rather than the low its in now, will he be provoked to lash out again? tune in in 2010!

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  • 84.
  • At 11:44 AM on 12 Jul 2006,
  • Kevin wrote:

Woll Post 78: The reason Italy didn't want penalties in the semi was because they were against a)the best penalty taking team in the world, and b) the hosts. Obviously Lippi has told them to do all they could to avoid penalties, because in the same way that Argentina didn't fancy it in the quarters either and were the more desperate team in that extra time. Despite Italy not having a good history at penalties, they were not the better team in the final and were probably grateful for the opportunity to win the match - they were never going to score in open play. Plus with France in disarray after the Zidane dismissal and three of their penalty takers off the field (Vieira, Henry and Zidane) even England might have fancied their chances of beating the French on penalties.

There has been a lot made of the Germany-Italy game but because extra time was exciting and because the game ended so dramatically a lot of people have forgotten about the majority of normal time were Italy got 9 men behind the ball and Germany badly struggled to create chances. If the match had finished as 0-0 at full time then a lot of this eulogizing would not be around.

Due to the negativity of the majority of the knockout games, this game has been elevated way above it's actual status. In a similar way WC02 was also lacking in great matches and nothing in this year's knockouts could compare to either England-Argentina or Holland-Argentina in '98.

I agree that the referee in the semi was the best refereeing performance of the tournament, although he did crucially give a free kick to Germany for an foul on Podolski that was clearly in the area.

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  • 85.
  • At 06:55 PM on 12 Jul 2006,
  • Tisia wrote:

Materazzi may have insulted Zidane, Zidane may have insulted Materazzi….first, second…who knows! This is football although most of the times we don’t get to witness it. It happened in the past, it is happening now and it will happen in the future. Those players are under enormous stress and sometimes just a little sparkle will set a big fire. Before judging who is the “Villain” (if there is one!) Have a look into Zidane past carrier too then. He is a fantastic footballer, ONE OF THE GREATEST! No doubt about that, but Zidane is also very famous for his many ...many outbursts! Did everyone forget that (apparently yes!)!? Zidane did react in exactly the some way during the a Championship final in 2000 and head-butt the German player Kientz, he was then suspended for 5 days. Ohhh, and even during his “hometown” World Cup in France1998 he couldn’t keep it cool and got suspended due to his violent reaction again.…….come on….he surely must know the consequences of his reactions by now!!! I am not defending Materazzi, (I wasn’t there) but I am not accusing him either. If Zidane does though, then in my opinion he is half of the man I thought he was. Actions always speak louder then words!

Ohhh and by the way…..I wanted Ghana to win…I think that they have done exceptionally well considering that they don’t have much cash disposal for great clubs and football facilities. They have superb players though and they done well in this world cup.

Well done Italy, you kept it cool and got the trophy!

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  • 86.
  • At 12:19 PM on 13 Jul 2006,
  • Beckenbauer wrote:

The most pleasing thing about this world cup 2006 is that the fans had a great time and that there was no fan violence.

Having said that, WHY do so many people say that it was a mediocre world cup? boring games, not enough goals, cheating etc...Is it maybe that we have reached the systemic limits of a game that hasn't changed its fundamental framework and rules for 100 years? In the 30's to 70's the average player's fitness and athletic capability made the pitch appear huge. Therefore 22 people could essentially jog up and down the field and there was plenty of space for 'beautiful' tricks and individual acrobatic freedom. Just watch the semi-finals of 1966 or 1970 or even 1974. In TODAY's 4-5-1 world, where teams have 2m tall keepers, 5 Gattuso's and a sprinter upfront, we are wondering where the magic moments are and where Ronaldinho's are. (Formula 1 has also become boring for same systemic reasons). Some rules need to be changed to increase the attractiveness of the game. Imagine the WC 2010 with the following new rules:

1. 9 players against 9 players
2. No off-side

We will witness marvelous matches with 4+ goals per match.


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