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When even they could scare off "le foot francophone" [courtesy of counselor eteraz and sepia mutiny ]

LIVE SIMULTANEOUS COMMENTARY

World Cup Diary

TRICOLORE TRIBULATIONS

GAMES 45, GROUP G, JUNE 22, 2006 --COLOGNE
TOGO 0, FRANCE 2
FINAL
GAMES 46, GROUP G, JUNE 22, 2006 --HANOVER
SWITZERLAND 2, SOUTH KOREA 0
FINAL

France put two touches on the ball, and the commentators already with the French0kissing (of French ass, unfortunately). Give them a moment. This is the team that gave Dunkirk a whole new meaning, the team whose defense has been as useful as the Maginot Line, a team whose legs have had the crustiness and crumpliness of baguettes, and whose goalkeeper has had the solidity of a Napoleon pastry.

[left: A little Togolese color, from the FIFA files at the National Archives] In Hanover it's going as expected between these two powers of foreign reserves: the Koreans are battling, the Swiss are in neutral (a 500-year tradition).

7... Was that Trezeguet I see rising out of the Cologne airs? Finally! The French coach decides not to act like B rice Arena and plays one of his best men. Trezeguet just took a header on goal, forcing the Togo keeper's first great save of the match. One thing we can say about noth these matches already: much better pace, much more intense atmosphere than the two games earlier today, which felt like backyard mulch in February.

9... Togo's terric Mohammed Kader just forced Barthez to make one of his foppish punchy saves...

The Swiss tried an attack, a deflection, got a corner kick that snoozed.

GOAL FOR TREZEGUET WAVED OFF, HE WAS OFF SIDE.

So here's where things stand. Togo are unfortunately out of it. No chance for advancement. The best they can hope for is a little honor-ssaving at France's expense, which shouldn't be too difficult (though the way Trezeguet is playing, France's reliable crappiness is in doubt) The Swiss and the Koreans can coast to a tie and ensure themselves a second-round berth, because they both have more favorable goal-differentials than France, and both have scored more goals than France has so far. But one of those two teams could lose and both could still advance if the best France can do against Togo is a draw (or if France lose). So here we are: for France to advance they need the other match to end in a victory for one of the two, and for France to win. Damn, I'm writing more obscurely than Jacques Derrida. Mes excuses.

18... Better football in the Swiss-Korea battle: there's serious battling going on there, but here they're still relatively tame compared to what a top-flight team ought to play like, when facing elimination. What the bloody Pantheon?

21... A French attack that ended with a conventional roller for the keeper. And another good shot, this time by Silvestri for France, but again well handled by the keeper.

GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL SWITZERLAND!

23... Switz's Philippe Sanderos takes a free-kick lob into the box, towers over the congergants around him and head-smacks--first the ball into net, then the eye-socket of a Korean trying to keep up with him. Both men end the play in a bloodbath, but the score holds.

28... Good news for France: Thierry Henry is on the field not just in spirit only. Bad news from France: Frank Ribery just took a shot on a wide-open goal, but aimed for Uranus. Bad news for France: Barthez thinks football is a variant of dodgeball. The Togolese aren't without spirits of their own, but not yet enough to scare the French more than they're scari ng themselves. Past the 30th minute, no score. But that won't hold. You can smell a French goal the way you can smell Cher perfume in a sewer.

GROUP G: AS THEY STAND

    P GD PTS
  Switzerland 3 3 7
  South Korea 3 0 4
----------------------------------------
  France 3 0 3
  Togo 3 -3 1
How group will end if scores stay as they are until full-time

Zidane not eligible to play today: on the bench with yellows.

Another dangerous free kick for Switzerland, nicely saved by the Korean keeper.

OH! TREZEGUET ALMOST HAD IT! A superb long-distance rocket by Malouda that the keeper bounced back for a Trezeguet shot, Trez fires but again at the keeper, the ball dribbles toward the goal lione before the keeper smothers it. But there may have been an off-side flag on Trezeguet anyway. The goal would have been waved off.

Trezeguet asks: where the hell is my team?

Otto's Togolese have managed a couple of dangerous slithers; they're defending well (thanks to their miracle-keeper), and France is not taking advantage of their lapses. France's mistakes outnumber Togo's. Approaching the end of the half, another typically blank sheet for these Viagra-less French.

45... French corner. Togolese catch. Merci papa.

45... Korea firing all cylinders at the moment. They keept that up, and they'll have their equalizer (and France'll have its nightmare).

This live commentary from L'Equipe, the French sports daily: "Le rythme français baisse, baisse.." French pace falls, falls...

We're at the half in both matches.

France to France message at the half

Second half...

The French have come out energized, their bilogical clunkiness ticking against them. Korea are still after their equalizer.

47... Good sneaky fake by the French off a free kick deep in Togolese territory, but the shot bashes against a wall of yellow and green and the follow-up corner kick is, like every one of thse endless corners for the French, a lost cause.

49... Again a French attack that caps with an Henry shot that fizzles, and the Togolese counter. Barthez just tried an idiotic play (and succeeded), shoving out of his line to clear a ball with his feet--the Togolese was called off-side, another one of those doubtful calls.

53... A well-built attack wasted yet again by France: clear shot on goal, lofted higher than the Sears Tower.

AND THERE, FINALLY, IS THE FRENCH GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL!

FRANK RIBERY HAS BEEN ALIVE IN THIS GAME, HE FED THE BALL TO vIEIRA JUST INSIDE THE TOP OF THE BOX, vIEIRA PIVOTED, SHOT HIGH AND RIGHT, AND THE KEEPER HAD NO CHANCE.

The French are on the attack again, missing another terrific opportunity in front of a gaping goal. Korea are now playing with their own fate in hand.

GROUP G: AS THEY STAND

    P GD PTS
  Switzerland 3 3 7
  France 3 1 5
----------------------------------------
  South Korea 3 0 4
  Togo 3 -4 0

How group will end if scores stay as they are until full-time

 

YOU COULD SEE THAT ONE coming... GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL FRANCE! 2-0, THIERRY HENRY'S TIME TO CATCH, PIVOT, SLAM AND VIRTUALLY ENSURE FRANCE'S 2ND ROUND BERTH...

Lacking more desirable action on the field, here are a few more Togolese colors off it.

Switzerland just had a crossbar shot... and this from our friends at the BBC: "58 mins: As South Korea pour forward their are gaps opening up at the back and the brilliantly-named Tranquillo Barnetta finds space to drill in a cross that just escapes Alexander Frei."

The tide has turned against Korea in Cologne and Hanover, where the Swiss are not resting on their 1-0 lead: they've learned the lessons of this World Cup, where late scorers have been its champions.

No longer an interesting game between France and Togo... But Korea could still make a miracle happen--if Switzerland doesn't beat them to it. Switzerland missed a good chance on goal, yielding the corner...

77... GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL SWITZERLAND! BUT THE GODAMN FLAG WAS UP! THE FLAG WAS UP! THE KOREANS HAD WALKED OFF THE PLAY! THE REFEREE OVERRULED THE LINESMAN!

Ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous. When you want the ref to overrule overzealous line-judges, he stands mute. When the pictures tell you as clearly as black and white (red and white in this case) that they shouldn;t, they do. This is no longer a game, and it's not the way to boot out one of the more spirited teams in the competition--playing against one of the least spirited.

You can call it a day. Smother the kids in sunscreen. Read up on the East-West divide. Go out for Mexican. Cut your toenails. Reflect on Camus' car crash, with that manuscript in his lap. The first round comes to an end in Germany (the Koreans just had themselves a gift of a goal, but the shot went high).

Togo a late-breaking attack!

One thing you can say about every single one of these five African teams, with the possible exception of Tunisia (and barely): they all played at a level superior to the American team's, which gives you yet again proof that these FIFA rankings aren't worth the Coke they're sponsored by. South Africa 2010 should be a great African affair. Fewer teams like Switzerland and Portugal, more teams like Cameroon and Nigeria. Make room.

It's over in Cologne. It's France moving on, Togo and Korea going home. But this French team is like England: no zip, no fatal boots, not even much excitement--except when Trezeguet is on the ball.

See you in the knock-out stages.

 

 

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