Sunday, July 09, 2006

France or Italy, whose team will reign supreme?

France vs. Italy
2pm ET - ABC

In just one hour the final match of World Cup 2006 kicks off. For both teams, defense is the word of the day. Italy has yet to allow a team to score on them while France have conceded just two. With the condition of the pitch being very wet, this game very likely will come down to one or two mistakes.

For France, if they want any chance at winning this thing, they need both Zidane and Henry working at 100%. If one of them is not on top of their game, Italy will choke off the other.

On offense for Italy, they have a number of options, but their big three are Luca Toni, Francesco Totti and Andrea Pirlo. The core of their offense will run through Pirlo. France needs to shut him down early.

All and all, I think this will be a good match. I think the wet conditions will allow for some odd ball bounces that will result in entertaining play. I also think France will become the only team to score on Italy in the tournament. However, they will not win.

I think the deciding factor in this match will not be the strikers, but instead it will be the goalies. If this is the case, France is in some serious trouble. When tested, Barthez has not looked good. Lucky for him, either his backline have been able to clear the threat or France's opponents have not been able to finish (I'm looking at you Portugal).

On the other side, Italy has Buffon who has been fantastic between the posts. On the few occasions teams have been able to get a good shot on goal, Buffon has placed himself perfectly to make the stop. In a World Cup final, that is what you need from a goal keeper.

Of coarse this could all go out the window very quickly if France gets an early goal. The one time Italy looked like they could loose was against the US when the game was tied. The Italians just didn't seem to know how to handle it, so they decided to take dive after dive. That worked from them then, thanks to the ref, but it will not work today. The Italians have not looked great during this Cup, but they have been consistent. If France can knock Italy's rhythm, it will not be a pretty thing for Italians to watch.

That said, I still think Italy will win their fourth cup today. I think it will be a strike in the 80th minute or so that will do it. Final score Italy 2-1 France.


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