7.10.2006

Das Finale! LIVE-BLOG! WHAT!


You're with this, right?

So what you've seen people live-blog that great shit they took last night. This is the World Cup Final. You're gonna love it.

After all the Fan Miles, beach clubs, corner cafes, and fifth-row seats, we're gonna do this one like some honest-to-goodness football intellectuals: At home, in front of a warm, crackling television. No distractions but for the MacBook and maintaining regular breathing. Italy v. France. Let's go...

7:30pm - Il Divo and Toni Braxton sing 'the official World Cup song, "The Time of Our Lives."' This is news to me. I can name you three other songs offhand, all slightly terrible, played about 5000 times more frequently than this one, which I've never heard before. Anyway, Il Divo. My mom loves these guys. My mom loves Paolo Maldini too, but I'm not sure if he can sing. Whatever, Maldini's nickname should be "Il Divo." Do you think they form like an operatic Voltron or some shit? And at the very least, Toni kept her six yard box on the low this time.

7:40pm - Wyclef and Shakira perform "Hips Don't Lie." Also news to me. Always thought the eyes were the giveaway when it came to half-truths, but I'm a be staring at pelvises from now on. Oh, and Wyclef rapped these words: "I'm a student of Pele/ Call me Pele Player." That's all. He said that. The Haiti wifey is hot though, we'll give him that. But still, the most physically demanding/impossible move I've seen in this entire World Cup is that breast-popping thing that Shakira does, and with the greatest of ease. I'm concerned for her vertebral alignment.

7:50 - The boy walking out with Zidane just coughed into the hand he's about to hold Zizou's with. Conspiracy? An Arsenal fan? No, they'd root for the French. Italian conspiracy? That's redundant.

7:52 - The players walk out onto the field. Flashes pop. Like a kid, I'm still amazed at what 60,000+ flashbulbs look like. Wonder when that first became a phenomenon?

7:53 - Italian national anthem. Gattuso singing hard, Buffon too. Materazzi's a hack, even while singing. I can still remember his dopey face after fouling a Bulgarian for a penalty in Euro 2004 to put Italy down a goal.

7:55 - French national anthem. Viera's meditating. Zidane is wearing what a neutral might call the most badass face ever. Looks just killed 37 elderly Italian men in Treviso.

7:56 - Also, something I forgot to note during Ukraine v. Italy. Italian fans seem to love "Seven Nation Army." (Can someone out there explain?) I always thought Italy was composed out of fourteen or so separate principalities united sometime in the 1870s, but maybe I'm wrong. I'm wrong.

7:57 - Zidane's all business. He barely shook Cannavaro's hand during the customary exchange of banners.

8:00 - Kick-off. Whaddya expect? The stereotype of German preciseness -- fallacious when it comes to the trains, for real -- is sometimes deserved.

1st minute - Henry goes down. Knocked heads with Cannavaro. Looks really dazed. Spaniards -- including Carlos Puyol --around the world smile, then choke back tears. Karma is a bitch, and so are phantom blows to the face that land a few weeks later.

3.40 - Henry's back. Funny shot of him recoiling from smelling salts.

4.30 - Zambrotta receives yellow card.

5:20 - PENALTY!!! Of course it's Materazzi!!! Hackish tendencies always reveal themselves in big games. I'd been waiting for him to do something dumb and was actually expecting/predicted it to happen against Germany, but I suppose he decided to save it until the grandest stage was set. When you fuck up, do it spectacularly.

12:35 - So the French were set up with a nice early penalty, early goal. One hopes the rest of the match won't settle into the waste that was the portion of the Portugal-France game which didn't include Fabien Barthez playing co-ed beach volleyball with Cristiano Ronaldo's freekick. B/T/W, very little happened these last 7 or so minutes.

18:45 - GOAL! Materrazzi!. The dope makes up for it. The streets are insane. Honestly. I'm looking at them. Firecrackers, um, crack outside. This will be a great game. Materazzi: at least dude makes every game interesting.

23:00 - "Ohhh oh-oh-oh-oh-ohhhh-ohhhh...."

24:22 - I can hear a thousand echoes of the commentary around me, from streets hundreds of meters away. I don't even have to turn my volume up, in fact. The entire city is watching this game. I've heard cheers, gasps, and shouts from my terrace before, but none ever this loud. Even tackles get cheered. It's almost overwhelming how loud it can be, thi sound emanating from everywhere and nowhere. Like some sort or weird inchoate organic being, the city has become a chorus of audible emotion.

26:43 - My feed is a non-digital TV feed, therefore eveyone watching outdoors at a cafe on a rear-projection screen is on about a three-second delay, which makes for amusingly delayed reactions and good guessing games as to where the shouts will come from.

27:15 - Hard header again from Materazzi that beat Barthez but was cleared by Thuram. Doesn't matter. Foul.

28:22 - It's 8:28pm and it's so bright, calm, cool, and blue outside that it could be 4pm on a lazy sunday afternoon in NY. Absolutely perfect weather. Fracesco Totti takes an unsuccessful freekick.

30:20 - Malouda takes a weak shot right at Buffon. Cameras show Beckenbauer, again at a match, as if he would miss the Final. Watched him in his helicopter earlier today during a wrapup show of Germany's progress through the W.C. What does he drink for all that energy? I hope it's Sparks.

32:54 - Zidane and Vieira talk, as animatedly as these two could ever do (which is not very) while Simone Perrotta writhes on the field. That's right guys, sprinkle some water on it. He'll be fine.

34:20 - Zidane just chipped a genius ball up for Henry that the Italians dealt with poorly -- anyway it's out of the zone for a foul.

35:00 - Toni, attacking for Italy, has the ball tackled away from him at the last moment. Corner...

35:15 - Toni hits it off the bar!

36:06 - Down on the other end, Henry has the ball tackled away from him as he ran towards the end line , which allows me to figure something out. Only Italians could cheer so loud for fine defensive play, which you'll get a lot of with Cannavaro.

40:15 - A plane flies by overhead, in descent. Who the hell would be on a flight right now? Where could they be coming from? Playing tennis on the moon, one hopes.

41:25 - I can hear "Allez Les Bleus" drifting in off the strong breeze coming from the south. Poetically, it would be coming all the way from the Fan Mile at Brandenburger Tor, a few miles away. Maybe it's just coming from the French bar 4 blocks down.

43:41 - Someone's piping in an Italian feed as I hear "Grosso, Grosso, calcio da angolo."

44:24 - Totti takes a freekick that's headed hard away from goal. Looks like both teams might be happy to head in locked at 1-1, but of course me saying that means Franck Ribery will score with his fascinating face (not his head) before the whistle blows.

HALFTIME 1-1. "Das Finale! Italien gegen Frankreich." Buffaloans will be glad to know that France is "Frankreich" in German, just like their QB circa -- oh who gives a shit -- Frank Reich. Ribery still amazing to look at. Didn't score though.

One Tenor, singing. Applause.

8:50 - The sun is only just setting here as Gerhard Delling and Gunter Netzer's voices echo throughout Prenzlauer Berg. The sky is pink, blue, and orange.

9:02pm - Players gather in tunnel.

9:04pm - KICKOFF, 2nd half

45:30 - "Eine klassik Henry situation," says the German announcer. Henry sped into the box and got a shot off, but Buffon saved.

49:25 - Henry: balletic. Like a skater on ice, really (Cheers, Martin Tyler). Henry spins off a defender's challenge, steals into the box and crosses...and the cross is cleared, dangerously, near the Italian goal by the Azzurri. Looks like Henry put his Arsenal Underoos on today.

51:35 -Henry gets the ball in the box and waits an age to do something, as if it were 90 mins against Blackburn and he were on the sideline, wasting time.

52:40 - Zidane! For Malouda! He goes down in the box, but the ref is demanding he stand up. No penalty, not this time.

53:45 - Another plane. I mean, really.

54:00 - Malouda along the end line...for Ribery...but it is too much behind him. [Euro-English syntax - Ed.] Berlin sighs.

56:05 - Oh shit. Vieira just came off for Alou Diarra. Injured. The tears must be streaming by now, even for a dude as hard as the Senegalese-born Vieira. Zidane's still playing though.

57:23 - Did the announcer just talk shit for Ribery? He said the German words for "excuse me" when Ribery beat the Italian defender to the line. Just like an And 1 mixtape, for sure.

58:21 - Zidane adjusts his armband. Like my man Dactile says: Can't they find some space age material to keep them suckers up? Nah, it's too much fun to adjust them, being captain and all.

58:29 - German announcer just named the aplayers available from the Italian bench. De rossi can play, his 4 match ban over. And here's De Rossi right now, for Perrotta Also, Totti steps off.. The Minotaur awaits...

65:16 - Toni SCORES from the freekick, but they were clearly offside.

62:45 - "Henry, gegen Cannavaro..." Shoots...saved by Buffon.

63:00 - Toni on the other end...blocked.

64:50 - Zidane just dummied the fuck out of Gattuso.

66:19 - The Blue Hour is just beginning in Berlin. It's much like it sounds, but then again, what good is sound to express the calmed color of the sky right now. "German Dusk," just much better named.

70:00 - Zidane's not going to get a chance to score a textbook World Cup-winning header if he keeps taking these long free kicks. Although that last one to Henry turned out pretty well...

72:55 - Hey, this Teamgeist ball is more golden than the rest! Awesome! But does it like Asians?

75:50 - Yellow card for Diarra. Pirlo to take freekick for Italy.

76:50 - "PIRLO!" Just missed.

79:30 - Did Zidane just make the "make a change motion?" Did he just dislocate his shoulder? Nah, looks like he can move it as he gets up, without the need for a stretcher. He's back on. Berlin cheers.

82:40 - The city awaits the corner, which is cleared.

83:13 - Offsides on Malouda as he tried to steal in on the left side of the Italian defense.

83:50 - Gattuso: Professionally beastly foul from him in central midfield.

84:46 - The French have been having the run of play for the last 10 minutes, but there's a strange feeling in the air, maybe it's all the blue, that makes me think the Italians have another final few minutes of sustained barrage planned as in the Germany match.

85.57 - Del Piero on for Camoranesi. That's the man to perform said surgical strike (if there is to be one), introduced by Lippi.

87:20 - Dive from de Rossi, inconsequential foul called on Diarra.

88:00 - Iaquinta? When did he come on?

89:40 - Heyyyy! Palpable tension! Great!

90:00 - The cheers from the streets are amazing. Volumes are turned up on blast everywhere. Italian, German, French. A chorus of names: Zidane! Ribery! Other awesome ones!

After 1:55 seconds of injury time, the whistle to end regulation blows. Extra time to come.

90:01 - KICKOFF. Okay, so the gold on the ball matches the gold on Zidane's boots. Nice, one, Adidas. So clearly Zidane will win this one, with something mystical. Matter of fact I saw Domenech telling Zidane right before kickoff to "kick that old Champions League 2002 shit. Heads ain't ready for that, *gar*-son." Sorry.

94:25 - Malouda breaks in but is blocked off by Gattuso, who took a knock (?)

97:50 - HENRY...just sprinting past Italians. Only just misses the correct ball out to the wing.

99:00 - RIBERY!!! The prettiest play of the game ends in a shot just wide of the far post from Ribery. And that's gonna be all for Scarface. He's been great. Trzeguet will get his chance to equal his previous feat of scoring in extra time to win a major tournemnt against Italy (see Euro 2000).

101:10 - Zidane calling for the ball in the midfield. Just great. I'm telling you, he wants it.

101:59 - Zidane measures up a cross for Henry, same axis as the Brazil-beating goal. Caught by Buffon.

103:03 - ZIDAAANE!!! Saved with the right hand of Renaissance Buffon. Incredibly strong header, directed right underneath the crossbar. Saved the game, Gianluigi did. Zidane: primal scream. Kind of frightening, actually.

End of first period, still blue, just deeper.
Please, no penalties.
On we go.

105:36 - What do we have here? De Rossi taking an elbow to the head. Poetic justice is sucking itself off.

106:32 - What the Fuck? Henry for WILTORD? France have lost. Zidane really will have to do it all alone. Henry is crushed, and injured, or just wiped. Not to mention the psychic scars of being substituted for Wiltord.

108:15 - Great. Which Italian is writhing about the pitch now?

Ummm, holy fuck. Zidane should be red carded. WTF was that? He just HEADBUTTED Materazzi IN THE CHEST. Did they possibly miss that? If so, this man is a true magician. Nope, he's going to be sent off. The world is falling apart. It's getting too dark to see my keys, and Zidane just tried to knock Marco Materazzi through Heaven's Door. Terrible, yes, but appropriate.

What was he thinking? That was easily the most violent thing I've ever seen done on a football pitch. It's almost the most purely violent thing I've ever seen, period. Some cold-blooded shit. It was kind of beautiful, actually. Despicable, but still radiant in its maliciousness. I'm amazed. Books will be written about this moment. I will probably write them. A fucking heatbutt to the chest? Ice cold. Did he knew somehow that he couldn't play on? Pain? Frustration? Whoever wins this match, that headbutt will be the only thing remembered.

There's this weird, empty feeling inside right now that's echoed in the eerieness of hearing crickets chirp on a night when the world's supposed to be partying. Cheers still ring out, but Earth is still trying to get a grip on what's gone on in front of their eyes. Maybe it's just the shrillness of the broadcast stadium whistles fucking with me. This is the last game Zidane will ever play.

No Zizou, no Henry...10 men...hmm...

Stunned.

What the fuck did Materazzi say? Some unrepeatable racist repugnant shit. Enough was enough, maybe?

And how about Hector Elizondo? Two huge red cards handed out. The balls to give them certainly, and to two superstars no less. It had to have been given in Zidane's case, but dude just effectively ended Zidane's career.

119:13 - Wiltord you suck. Couldn't deliver a nice cross to an open Trezeguet on the break, nor even hit the target with a shot. Right, there's a game going on.

And it's likely going to penalties.

Names to remember, or forget: R. Baggio. D. Baggio.

The only name you have to know: Buffon.

The shot of Zidane walking down into the tunnel, right past the Jules Rimet trophy is just about all the Rimbaudian poeticism you could ever wring from a game of football. Cantona explains the world.

PENALTIES

Buffon v. Barthez.

Pirlo first. Goal. Stright down the center, Barthez guessed to the right.

Wiltord. Will this name live in infamy?...NO. Goal. A good penalty too.

Materazzi. Uh oh. Which stop on the rollercoaster do we get off on here? The highs. Great penalty. Barthez guessed correctly, but the shot was just too strong.

Trezeguet. Crossbar! NO GOAL!

De Rossi...hits the shot Trezeguet tried to hit. Perfect.

Italy's never won a W.C. penalty shootout. Just thought I'd pont that out before Del Piero shoots. And he scores.

Sagnol...scores. Man, he has big ears.

Grosso. If there's any justice in the world, he'll miss.

And there isn't. Italy are Champions.

POSTGAME

Did they just cut off Camoranesi's hair? Yep. Maybe he's off my shit list.

What is Zidane thinking right now? What does Henry think about Zidane at this moment? The rest of the team?

Why does Gattuso have no pants on? Someone please explain. He just bent over and barked I think.

From where I'm standing on this rooftop terrace, I can see the fireworks from Berlin's Olympiastadion, miles away while that freaking Amadou & Mariam song ("Zeit, Das Sich Vas Dreht") plays through the TV. I've heard it about a thousand times, but never with thoudsands of dollars worth of fireworks as a bassline. Now, "Finniculi, Finnicula."

Can never be mad at Buffon. And tomorrow we find out whether four of Italy's top teams will be relegated to Serie C. Including Buffon's Juve.

It's been fun...actually, it's been one of the strangest nights of my life. I'm, again, hurt, stunned, astounded, amazed, and dazed. I'll be trying to figure this one out for a good long minute. Goodnight.

HIGHLIGHTS

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