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     Volume 5 Issue 103 | July 14, 2006 |

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(What's the Story) Morning Glory?

Nader Rahman

Italian defender Fabio Grosso celebrates after he scored the winning penalty for his team during the World Cup 2006 final football match between Italy and France at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium.

Oasis's (What's the Story) Morning Glory? was one of the most influential British albums ever, and what makes it so interesting is that the band is revolved around two utterly loony brothers. When they are not fighting, on drugs and pestering airline stewardesses they have combined to make some of the best music of the past decade, they are also notoriously football crazy. Recently Noel Gallagher claimed to be Del Piero's “lucky mascot” and with this in mind I have decided to use the 10 tracks off their record breaking CD to portray Italy, France and the World Cup final.

“Nobody ever seems to remember
That life is a game we play”

This years world cup final was not very high profile but at the end of the day no one could complain about the two teams that reached the final. Italy took the old fashioned route to the final, they slipped in under the radar by sticking to basics, attacking with surety and defending like kings. They conceded just one goal and that too it was an own goal and they managed to score in every game they played. The semi-final win over hosts Germany was unexpected and amidst footballing scandal and crisis at home managed to reach the final rather easily in the end. France on the other hand had a real rollercoaster ride to the final, they disappointed bitterly in the group stages but came back strongly to beat favourites Brazil and crept past Portugal in the Semis. All the attention was on the aging Zidane and his swansong, I wonder if he was thinking life is the real game we play?

Colombian singer Shakira performs on the stage during a ceremony prior the World Cup final football match between France and Italy.

She's Electric
“There's lots and lots for us to see
There's lots and lots for us to do”

The start to the final was electric, there was lots to see and ever more to do. Just after the start Henry was floored and it seemed like he would have to be taken off. Eventually he got up and within a few minutes Malouda rampaged his way through the Italian defense and “fell”. A rather dubious penalty was awarded to France, the defender in question, Matterazzi made no real contact. The following penalty was taken by Zidane and it was coolness personified as he chipped the ball against the upright, the ball spun back into the goal before spinning out again. One nil to France and it really looked to be Zidane’s night. Less than 12 minutes later Pirlo floated in a corner after a spell of Italian pressure, it was met by Matterazzi who headed it into the French Goal. One-all after 20 minutes and an electrifying start.

Roll With It
“I think I've got a feeling I've lost inside”
The second half belonged to France, they had the lions share of the possession and looked increasingly dangerous. The Italians gave away easy possession and France attacked relentlessly. Vieira was substituted after he picked up a groin strain as France kept pushing. Italy had their moments a Pirlo freekick came close, they also scored from an offside position but eventually seemed to play as if their luck had run out. Their sloppy passing seemed to indicate that in their minds they had already lost. They hung on for extra time as France led by Zidane, pressed on.

Champagne Supernova
Where were you while we were getting high?
Extra time was a real rollercoaster, the French were all over the Italians like a rash and they seemed most likely to score. Ribery came very close in the 100th minute, and Zidane powerfully headed what should have been the game winning goal only to see a brilliantly athletic Buffon clear the ball brilliantly with a firm right hand. Then came a moment of madness, Zidane head butted Matterazzi without provocation and got a straight red card. What was he smoking?

French midfielder Zinedine Zidane (L) celebrates his goal with French forward Franck Ribery (R) in the first half during the World Cup 2006 final football match. Zidane converted from a penalty kick.

Don't Look Back in Anger
“My soul slides away
But don't look back in anger”

I wonder what Zinedine Zidane will best be remembered for, winning the world cup, scoring in two world cup finals or getting a red card for an act of complete idiocy. So often people are remembered by their last achievements and that would be a shame for Zidane. He deserves to be remembered for more than just one petulant red card, he should rightly be remembered as one of the all time greats. But even after it is said and done, I still wonder what was going through his mind, he was nine minutes away from a penalty shootout and riding away into the sunset triumphantly. Zidane has now famously used his head thrice, twice by scoring against Brazil in '98 final and once by head butting Matterazzi in the '06 final. In the end he lost it all, his temper and possibly the trophy, all I can say is don't look back in anger, you did it to yourself.

Hey Now
“There's no time for running away now
Hey now! Hey now! ”

It came down to penalties and David Trezeguet was the unlucky one to miss. Fabio Grosso stood over the ball to take what would be the last penalty. There was no time for running away, and he didn't. The rest as they say is history.

Cast No Shadow
“And as he faced the sun he cast no shadow”
Before the World Cup who had heard of Fabio Grosso? Even after winning the World Cup I doubt if anyone knows him. He is the ultimate unsung hero of the Italian side, it was his marauding runs down the flank that brought Italy success during the world cup. And in the knock out stages he is one of the most influential players on the field. Against Australia he won the penalty in the 93rd minute that took Italy through to the quarters and in the semi-final against Germany it was his goal in the 118th minute that sealed Italy's place in the final. His greatest contribution was to take the last spot kick in the final, the pressure under him must have been tremendous. But with skill, temperament and experience far greater than the 23 caps he had won for Italy he scored the final penalty, thus exorcising the demons of the '94 world cup. That one kick was the most important of his entire life, a nation held its breath as he prepared to take it. It is all over and done with now, and in a team of superstars his performances have been forgotten. As a player one could say he cast no shadow.

“I said maybe
You're gonna be the one who saves me?”

Fabio Cannavarro what more can I say than Man Mountain. He has been the heart of the Italian team and as captain has led from the front. For me he is the player of the tournament without a doubt, his marshalling of the Italian defence was magnificent and many a time he was all that stopped Italy from conceding a goal. A player at the peak of his powers, he was a real sight, an Italian Stallion. The team was seemingly built around his immense performances at the centre of the Italian defence. On more than one occasion he saved Italy and to their opponents he must have seemed like a wall. To the Italians he was simply “Wonderwall”.

Italian defender Fabio Cannavaro holds up the World Cup trophy following Italy’s victory.

Some Might Say
“Some might say that we should never ponder
On our thoughts today cos they will sway over time”
The first half of the final was completely dominated by Italy, yet they conceded a dubious penalty and came back to level the match. Yet some might say, if France had kept possession better they would not have conceded a goal. If Gregory Coupet was the keeper maybe he would have kept out Matterazzi's header and the list goes on and on. The game is over and the World Cup won, all I can say is that it really is best not to ponder over what might have been because the longer we think about it the more it will play with us. The final whistle should be the end of comments and commentary, pens need not be dipped in poison over what might have been. The game is over, let it stay like that.

Morning Glory
“All your dreams are made
When you're chained to (your) mirror with (your) razor blade”

Italy and France really must have felt as if they were chained to mirror and the razor blade. France were described as a team of pensioners and Italy were engulfed by a match fixing scandal that seemed destined to make more news than their under achieving team. But like the lyrics say, all your “dreams” are made when you're chained to the mirror and the razor blade, with no where else to go and no where to hide two real underdogs made it to the final. In the end Italy's dreams came true while France were left with the blade and slit wrists. Some might say Italy were not the best team in the tournament, but their single mindedness is what got them the trophy, when pushed to a corner they retaliated the only way they knew, by fighting and scrapping. No matter what people say now, the trophy has gone home with them, they are the ones basking in the morning glory. Personally I think they deserve it.



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