Sunday, July 02, 2006

Allez France, Allez!

Barb, Ross, Yohan and I ventured to Cupcake land on Saturday to watch the World Cup soccer match Brazil vs France. The setting was a nice English style pub complete with a good selection of scotch (I had two Laphroaigs, the smoky yet sweet Islay scotch)and good fish and chips. The English crowd had left after their defeat by Portugal so it was the Latinos rooting for Brazil, the last hope of the non-European teams. I being the lover of underdogs, and knowing French decided to be different and to root for France.

I am not much of a follower of any sport. I find the players most annoying and the sports Americans like basically boring, with the exception of a good baseball game. Soccer, as is well known, has not gripped the USA like it has the rest of the world.

I have found soccer is fun to watch and has its own charms. I was amused that they run the clock forward. They play for 90 minutes so the clock starts at 00.00 and runs up to 45.00 for the first half and then a second 45.00 for the second half. Unless.... There is a "secret" (Ross explained only the referees know the exact time) time kept when action stops or there are penalty stops. This time is added at the end, as a suspenseful encore. In this case it was 3 minutes.

The referees do not drop flags or hankies for penalties like in football, but wave little yellow and red cards they pull out of wallets. A yellow card is bad, a red card is the kiss of death. Too many yellows get you in hot water too. I think.

The game was good. The experienced and calculating French ousted the Brazilian favorites 1-0 in one-sided victory. They now go on to the semifinals against Portugal. France's 3-0 victory in the 1998 title match was the last time Brazil lost in the World Cup, so the Brazilians have found a real nemesis in La Belle France.

Much of the credit goes to Zinedine Zidane the French captain. It was Zidane who lifted France past Brazil the last time they met, scoring two goals for France's last World Cup. Since then, Brazil had won 11 straight World Cup games and another championship. Zidane, and Thierry Henry who scored the only goal took care of the Brazilian dream of another World Cup title.

Most everyone at the pub rooted for Brazil but I left happy and a little more educated in soccer. Now, I have a team to root for. As the pundits now favor Germany, I will continue to shout "ALLEZ FRANCE, ALLEZ!!"

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