David Hirshey — whose beauty has been captured photographically at ESPN.com — is writing for Deadspin throughout the World Cup.
Not since the Rolling Stones' Iron Lung tour has the world marveled at a bunch of geezers getting it up one last time for a happy ending. Just when you thought that Zidane and the rest of "Les Vieux" (trust me, it's funny if you speak French) had exhausted all their AARP-approved elixirs, they found another keg of Ponce de Leon prune juice to save the day.
Is it just me, or were you not misting up when Zizou and Figo, the two proud old men of soccer and former teammates at Real Madrid, embraced at the end of France's valiant 1-0 semifinal victory, stripped off their sweaty jerseys and showed off the best waxed six packs since the volleyball scene in Top Gun? Or, come to think of it, was it more like Brokeback, which I never saw but friends talk of how Heath Ledger just couldn't let go of that shirt. The question begs: How long will Zidane hold onto to Figo's No. 7 jersey, and will he ever wash it?
France is in the World Cup final against Italy, a sentence I never thought I'd write. Which color blue do you prefer: Azzurri or Bleu? I'm a Bleu man myself, especially after Zidane bleu me away yet again.
You can moan, like Big Phil Scolari, that Les Bleus were lucky, that Henry's theatrics in the box would have made Belmondo proud and that Portugal should have been awarded their own penalty when Sagnol nudged Ronaldo as he tried to head home a Figo cross. But make no mistake: The better team won. Portugal, with their one-named players (Maniche, Ricardo, Costinha, Pauleta, Miguel), their Brazilian-born midfielder Deco, their Brazilian manager Scolari and an attack spearheaded by The Other Ronaldo, has been the Brazil Lite of this tournament, playing with flair but no real cutting edge. They deserve their fate for their 16-yellow, four-red card burlesque show against Holland, their inability to breach the England defense after Wayne Rooney's ejection left them one man up (albeit two squashed testicles down) for 60 minutes and their scoreless dry hump against France.
Not that French were exactly magnifique yesterday. This was no stirring performance to put in the time capsule alongside their inspired fight back against Spain and their masterclass against Brazil. Once again they relied on the sorcery of Zidane and the cunning of Henry to get them the one goal they needed, and then they prayed that their ancient and venerable central defender Lilian Thuram would keep Portugal from exposing France keeper Barthez for the herky-jerky, bobbling, flailing spaz he is. The 34-year-old Thuram, who for my Euros is the second best defender in the Cup next to Italy's Cannavarro, was unbeatable in the air and tackled with crunching resolve. Speaking of crunching things, it sure looked like Ricardo Carvalho's swingers, the subject of the world's attention after Rooney stamped on them in their quarterfinal match, had recovered nicely when he stuck out his left foot as Henry jinked past him in the box.
Even taking into account Henry's dramatic flourish as he went down, there was no way that referee Jorge Larrionda couldn't give the penalty; at least there was a soupcon of contact on this play, as opposed to the phantom foul he whistled on US defender Oguchi Onyewu that knocked the Americans out of the Cup. After Larrionda pointed to the spot and Zidane dispatched the kick with consummate composure, Carvalho and Scolari were gesticulating wildly at the referee for the perceived injustice. Zidane simply looked heavenward, as much to say merci as to say see you Sunday.