A little way to keep yourself entertained during this World Cup if you happen to be the sort who has trouble retaining interest? Pretend the countries are their corresponding characters in "Mike Tyson's Punch Out." Therefore, this one is Don Flamenco vs. Glass Joe. There. Don't you feel better? You can now RELATE!
Your live-blogger is Martha Fischer, from the exemplary movie blog Cinematical. (We're hoping by having her live blog here, we'll be able to talk her into letting us review the new Woody Allen movie for her site.) Play with us in the comments, and see how Flamenco does against Joe.
Thanks for reading/watching with me folks — East Coasters, it's happy hour time! The rest of you? Back to work! And go see Once in a Lifetime.
And there it is — France 3, Spain 1. That second half was impressive enough to make everyone suddenly eager for a Brazil-France matchup. Wow, what a freaking goal by France at the end. Oh yeah — so that's what they used to do.
Stoppage time: We're seconds from the whistle now.
Stoppage time: OH MY LOVELY ZIZOU! GOOOOOOOAAAAAAALLLLLLLL!!!!!!! Now that was fucking gorgeous football, like France of 1998. Jesus. Ball picked up farside by Makelele (?), played to Wiltord in the middle, one touch out wide to Zidane who is in alone. He slows down, cuts inside to beat Puyol, and slots it home between Casillas and the on-rushing Spanish defender. Gor. Fucking. Geous.
Stoppage time: Zidane randomly gets a card for pretty much no reason, but it's near midfield so the kick is harmless. 2 minutes. Long Spanish passes headed back out; France looks strong at the back.
90th minute: Ball being knocked back and forth in the midfield; no one can get possession, so Barthez just kicks it out of bounds. It's nice how some things never change. Long pass in by Spain, but Luis Garcias smacks Thuram on the way out, and it's a French kick out. Spain need to get upfield now; 2:30 left in stoppage time.
89th minute: Spanish corner headed out by Zidane; here comes another. That one went deep and was headed back in by Torres. Barthez, for once, was brave in a non-stupid way and got both the ball and fouled; France coming out.
88th minute: Wiltord for Henry. Spanish free kick from straight on, punched 80 miles by Barthez. Spain keep it and are putting a hell of a lot of pressure on France, who look frantic right now.
87th minute: Not much time left for Spain now. Apart from Gallas' emergency balls treatment, there's not going to be much stoppage time. Yellow card to Ribery for time-wasting.
85th minute: Dangerous-ass cross from Joaquin from the far side, headed out for a Spanish corner that comes to nothing. Jesus this is stressful, and I don't even care who wins.
84th minute: It actually went off Ramos' thigh — he was flying over the deflect it out and it went off him into the side netting (the inside, this time). Certainly not an own goal, though — that was all Vieira.
84th minute: GOOOOOAAAAAAALLL!!!!! GOAL GOAL GOAL! Off the dubious free kick won by Henry's acting! Zidane lifts it up nicely, laying it into the box from about 40 yards out on the near side. The first touch knocked it up, and it fell to Vieria on the far side post, who headed it right into the goal. GOAL GOAL GOAL! His teammate then dive on him and try to crush him to death. And we see a French fan in a pink bunny suit.
82nd minute: Freaking wow. Ribery sneaks the ball off the Spanish foot and plays it into space on the right for Henry, who runs his legs off to get close enough to Puyol to act like he got elbowed in the nose, thus winning a free kick and a card for Puyol. I love Ribery, rat-like though he may be.
81st minute: Another freaking piece of brilliance by Ribery. He beats two men and then lays it off to Govou for a shot (which goes over).
80th minute: Joaquin cuts it back to his right foot on the far side and rips a shot into the side netting. The outside of it, I mean. Ouch. Gallas took a ripped shot RIGHT off the balls. He's being strapped to the stretcher, guys. I think they might have been pushed back inside by the force of that shot.
77th minute: Sagnol kicks a Spaniard with much cynical glee; Spain free kick on the nearside, albeit from about 50 yards out. Damn, Alonso whipped that in — Barthez, you know they're testing your ass. Cleared out for a Spanish corner. Again with the flapping by Barthez, he's on the ground, but the ball is somehow cleared out. It ends up at Spain's feet, though. Sergio Ramos pulls a serious dive, and is actually NOT rewarded with a free kick. Go Italy!
75th minute: Govou for Malouda for France. Aragones still whining about that non-foul on Torres. Perhaps there's a misunderstanding, and he's trying to tell Torres to dive better.
75th minute: Italy just went over and told Aragones to shutthefuckup, albeit not in those words. No lie. They actually made him sit down. Ha ha.
73rd minute: Makelele just dribbled away from Torres who, virtually untouched, falls down, clutching his nose. Where has that guy been all game, anyway? Quit your whining and play, Mr. Spikey Hair.
72nd minute: Spain makes their final change, subbing Senna for Xavi. No Reyes for me. Sniff.
71st minute: Better from Spain. They're keeping it, albeit entirely in their own end. Finally it's knocked long, which results in a throw-in. Whoa. Given away to Malouda who's off, flying down the right side of the field with Henry making a run in the middle for him. There's a nice trailing run from someone — Vieria? — but the ball is played waaaaay too late, and Casillas heads it out. Still France's ball.
69th minute: Henry is in his deck chair, just hanging out offside. JP informs us that's his 402th offense of the tournament.
68th minute: Vieria Vieria Veiria whacks Febregas and gets the game's first card. That's more like it, Patrick. Luis Garcis gets his head on a cross and knocks it down; the dangrous bounce is "deflected over the bar" for a corner. (It should be a goal kick out.) GREAT, spot-bound corner from Xavi, Barthez flops at it, but someone else clears the danger.
67th minute: Steal by Abidal; another good sustained attack by France, ended by a giveaway — but Makelele won it right back. France are now pushed much further up, pressuring the ball at midfield, with their backs also stepping way up the field. Everything about them is attack-minded and confident. Be afraid, Spain. Be very afraid.
64th minute: This is really good from France. They're trapping out wide, and Spain's midfielders never have clear looks, or the space they need to find feet. Most of the French counter attacks now lead to shots (albeit optimistic ones); they're not longer just lumping it for Henry.
63rd minute: France are getting tougher and more confident by the minute; it feels like Spain needs a goal soon, or they're just not going to get another one.
62nd minute: Sergio Ramos maybe lucky not to get a card there; Zidane's corner is headed for Henry at the top of the box, but it's deflected away. No worries, though, here comes another one. That's better — whipped in by Zidane, punched away pretty confidently by Casillas, but the pace on that one alone made it dangerous.
61st minute: France are pressuring Spain more now; it's much harder for them to keep possession, and the passes are harder to find. Could the ancient French be shaking off a bit of rust?
58th minute: Uh oh, it's getting testy. A Spanish player went down easily, and no foul was called; seconds later France got a call, which resulted in much rueful finger-wagging on the part of the Spaniards. OHH Ribery just effortlessly turned the corner on Pernia and his cross was just barely deflected out. I don't know about you people, but I'm very impressed by this Ribery fellow, 8-Miler though he is.
57th minute: Here come Spain again, foiled by a dodgy offside call by the far official. Aragones is trying to remember the Spanish for "Greasy-haired, sister-buggering linesman."
56th minute: Harkes to Zidane: "Fill me with your little babies!" (Points and much respect to anyone who gets the movie reference.)
55th minute: Whoa. Pernia just had a Red Bull, he's all over the place, shooting from everywhere and launching himself through the air at assorted frightened Frenchmen. Eventually Italy regains control; French kick coming out.
54th minute: Joaquin for David Villa; Luis Garcia for Raul.
53rd minute: Now it's Spain's turn to scramble, France has it deep and Spain is unsettled, but they clear it all the way out and eventually get it to Barthez, which is always always good for the opposition. He kicks it out.
52nd minute: I have no idea how that wasn't off, but Zidane just chipped it over the top to Malouda who timed his run perfectly and sort of lobbed it from the top of the box towards goal; Casillas dove and tipped it away. Spain countered right away but got nothing.
49th minute: Spain's had the better of the play for the first 5 minutes here, keeping it well. When France breaks up their possession, it tends to be with clearing balls rather than passes. And, just as I type that, France put together an attack down the near side, but Henry ends up giving it away harmlessly.
49th minute: I love Puyol's hair. Put that guy in a 1970s keeper jersey, and he's a sitcom all by himself.
48th minute: Now it's Pablo's turn to lie on the ground. Though he's not Italian either, he's pretending. A cleated foot came near his side and he decided to take a little rest because of it.
47th minute: Henry, offside again. In other news, the Pope is Catholic.
46th minute: Doesn't look like there were any changes to either team. Makelele was just surrounded by 3 Spanish players and managed to commit a foul. That right there is a badass, my friends. Plus, he has the best name in creation — say it with me. "Makelele."
Finally: Game time. Hey, racist turd — I want my Reyes. Please.
So, do Orlando Bloom and Johnny Depp finally confess their love in the new POTC movie? Is gay love what's in the Dead Man's Chest?
I suck at this halftime entertainment thing — and today I don't even have Julie Foudy to make fun of. Perhaps I'll take this time to talk about the rest of the tournament: I would like to say that the Portugal-Holland game was the most horrific, awful, awesome thing I've ever seen. I became a Portugal fan when I was over there for the Euros in 2004, and during that whole second half I couldn't decide if I wanted to shoot myself at the horror of the cynicism on display or kiss them all for being so heroic. Well, that's not true. I always want to kiss Figo, but that's my own issue and has nothing to do with the game.
Also, England are going to start playing, and I fear it will be against Portugal. Of course, if that means we get another classic that ends in sudden death PKs, I suppose I'll be ok with that.
Here it is, the Skinny Ronaldo ad! Check out the quickness in the Inter shot — goddamn. Who is that guy?
And the misspelling "Vieria"? Totally intentional, silver lining. We got a memo. For you, though, I'll disobey and try to get it "right" for the whole second half.
AND Half. Well, that was exciting. France seem to have decided to play, at least a little bit. If by "play" you mean "emulate England and blast the ball long, looking for that one dude up top who is getting more and more angry at our inability to get the ball to his feet."
45th minute: Well, that woke the game up. It's end-to-end now, with France still blasting everything long, looking for Henry and Spain keeping busy around the French box, but rarely threatening.
42nd minute: Weak penalty call from Spain. Stop that nonsense whistling.
42nd minute: Wow, this is Ribery's seventh game ever for France? Jesus. He can't possibly always be this good.
41st minute: GOOOOAAAAALLL FRANCE! Guess who: Ribery, in alone beats Casillas and then slots it between the keeper and the two trailing defenders. Off a great ball from Viera (there he is!) who ignored the wildly offside Henry and played it back to his right for Ribery. Mmm ... passive offside.
40th minute: Another good build-up from Spain. When they attack, it's always with numbers. France, meanwhile, are consistently hitting it long, expecting Henry to a)stay on, b)get the ball, and c)go 1 on many to score. There's no support and no build-up.
38th minute: Zidane bends the kick in nicely, but no one can get a head to it and Casillas grabs it with no problem. France win it right back but the long ball fails, since Henry is like a full yard offside. Harkes reminds us that he's a "world class player." You don't say.
37th minute: Every time France give it away, Spain come flying back into their teeth. I know it's just a style thing and all, but damn France look old. Ooooh dirty. Zidane just kicked Xabi Alonso well after the play and put his hands up so no one would notice. Dude, even Italy saw. Don't try to fool the foolers. No card, though, because he's French. And then Viera dives, and gets a free kick in a dangerous spot, 40 yards out on the near side.
36th minute: If Spain's back four slip even for a second, it won't matter how much control they have, because Henry will be in alone — he was just offside for about the 10th time. Actually, wait. I'm talking about Henry. Ok, if the back four slip for a second, like, five times, they might be in trouble.
34th minute: Great. Now that Ronaldo is scoring, we're talking about the fact that the poor fatty has a sinus infection. He's a hero, not a slug. Get it right, people — didn't you get the memo?
33rd minute: Viera sighting! He touched the ball! Granted, he almost gave it away, but still. Baby steps. Pernia is pretending to be hurt. He's fine. I'd like all of you to notice that he's NOT Italian, and yet is still lying on the ground. Other people do it too, you know.
31st minute: Another Spanish corner. The clearance falls right to Fabregas, but he takes too long and ends up dribbling it at Barthez.
30th minute: Here's a surprise: JP is telling us that teams that score first have won more games in this World Cup. You don't say! Now, where have a I heard that before .... ?
30th minute: HA! Literally 4 French players were just offside. Oops.
28th minute: David Villa to the spot. JP informs us that Spain has "never missed a World Cup Spain." Thanks, JP. He hits it hard and low to Barthez's right and GOOOOAAAAL! It sounded like Barthez got a piece of it, but it wasn't enough. 1-0 Spain, and you can't say it's not deserved. Or rather you can, but I won't.
27th minute: And as soon as I say France is better, Spain get a corner. OOOH PENALTY. PENALTY PENALTY PENALTY. Zidane is calmly talking to Italy, quite sure that his fame and composure will change the man's mind. Dream on, Zizou. Without the replay, it looks like a reasonable call — a push in Pablo's back by Thuram with his left shoulder when the former is going after the ball. I dunno. It's the sort of thing that makes sense when it's your team that goes to the spot, but an outrage when it goes against you.
25th minute: Much better from France. More possession, more sustained attack; Ribery is very involved all of a sudden from the right, both with crosses and a little creative play, trying to free people up. He looks like a street kid from Detroit. Props to pale white guys.
23rd minute: Oh my GOD. Zidane dumps to the far corner for Henry, who crosses it back into the paths of not one but two French players. The first, Ribery, doesn't even try at it. Then Viera wandered in and fell rather than poking it into the goal. If France lose 1-0, it's their fault.
22nd minute: Has anyone seen Viera today? I don't think I've heard his name mentioned once. Where the hell did he go? Oh there he was, he just ran by a Spanish player. What up, Patrick? What, you're busy? Please. Kick someone's ass, then I'll believe you're busy.
21th minute: Zidane has a nice tan. Summer agrees with him.
20th minute: Spain are really untroubled by France in the midfield, but the Frenchies are still strong at the back — any deep attacks are easily denied.
17th minute: Nice almost-attack by France — long ball from Zidane nearly freed Henry on the dead run, but Puyol got a piece of his Go Go Gadget hair in the way to break it up.
15th minute: Another corner for France, despite a sort of half hazard attack. Harmlessly played in by Zidane, right on the near post and played out easily to Barthez, who is out tending to the pitch and has totally abandoned his goal. Aren't crazy people fun?
16th minute: Through ball from Raul that finds lots of space. Unfortunately, no one who isn't a bald French man named Fabien is in the area.
15th minute: Spain are looking much stronger right now, they're starting to take control of the game. They're not completing that last pass yet, but France can't get the ball, and when they do they give it right back to someone in red.
14th minute: And the drooling over Zidane has begun. John, do you understand that your praise only makes us hate a man we used to love? Nice individual work on the right by Sagnol, only to keep it too long and give it back.
14th minute: Oh Jesus, Harkes is speaking French. Shoot me now.
12th minute: Tame shot by Henry from the top of the box. And we wonder, will he bottle it in yet another big game? Pressure = Henry shooting it over from 5 yards.
10th minute: Not a lot of build-up. Both teams keep it in their own end, but can't put together sustained attacks; it's pretty even so far, no one has a good rhythm yet. Dammit.
9th minute: Wow. Nice free kick from Parnia that just missed the upper left of the goal from about 25-30 yards out. Barthez had no chance, but it missed by about a foot.
8th minute: A corner for real, this time. Pretty good ball from Zidane, but close to the goal and Casillas gets a paw on it while kneeing several French players in sensitive parts. Because he's a keeper, Italy says he was fouled.
6th minute: Zidane is wearing hideous shoes. Zizou, brilliant talent can only excuse so much. Uh huh. And the first thing those shoes cost him is a corner for France — Mr. Italy used that thing taped to the side of his head to learn that the ball had, in fact, been handled by the French. And we go the other way.
5th minute: Ooh. Nice long ball by Xavi, looking for Raul's head (huh huh). Barthez came for it and won the ball without screwing up even a little, which was disappointing. France turned around and did the same thing, winning a corner.
3rd minute: So far, Henry is "defending" by standing near Spanish players with his hands up. His first effort led to a nice break for Spain, though they managed to go offside. Good start, Thierry.
2nd minute: The referee is Italian. Insert nasty remark about greasy-haired divers here. You're all just jealous you're not as pretty as Totti, and you know it.
1st minute: Harkes, in his infinite wisdom, has announced that this game will be more creative than the Ukraine-Switzerland snoozefest last night. Thanks, dickhead.
Right. Game at hand.
So, the scuttlebutt leading up to this match was that French manager (and evil evil Zizou hater) Raymond Domenech was refusing to name his lineup ahead of time because Zidane wasn't in it, and he didn't want to hear the whining of a nation for any longer than necessary. Happily, though, it was all a big lie, and the man will get to start what is likely to be his last game in a France shirt (unless national teams have old-timer's days, or France starts playing). Of course, Zidane's presence only means that JP and Harkes will spend 58% of the game's 90 minutes praising him to the stars based on how he played in 2000. (Who is it, exactly, who tracks down videotape for the guys who are broadcasting these games? Because clearly none of them have seen a game played in the last, oh, four years or so. And it's surely not helping them to have that new Jonga Bonita When Ronaldo Was Skinny ad running. I promise you that JP is now irreparably confused.)
In other news, Spain are the new Brazil, only with two-word names and without the Portuguese. And with a balding all-time scoring leader rather than a fat one. Additionally, French defender Eric Abidal (like Zidane, back from a two-yellow suspension) compared the game to war several times during the build-up. Expect those quotes to be used as evidence of aggression when we invade France.
Also, where the hell is Reyes? Damn you, Aragones. it's because he's black, isn't it? Oh, wait.
A few things, before we really get started:
1)Wait a minute. I'm not just doing this because of my vast soccer knowledge and grace under pressure? You want something from me, Will? Well I never.
2)If anyone can hurt John Harkes badly enough between to keep him from talking between now and the start of the game, large payments can be arranged.
3)Forza Italia, haters.
4)You guys asked in the comments about summer movies last time, but I was in too much of a typing/Reyes frenzy to properly reply. Now that I have a few unfrenzied minutes, I will tell you: All of you should go see Once in a Lifetime, about the New York Cosmos. It's easily the best soccer movie ever made, and is also now one of my favorite movies of all time (right up there with obscure French films) Seriously, it's magic. Plus, you get to see Shep Messing's wang AND see Giorgio Chinaglia, before he was a Tony Soprano look-alike bantering with the loathsome Eric Wynalda. Really, what could be better? It opens July 6 in NYC and later in other, soccer-friendly cities across the country. And no, sadly, they're not paying me for this.