So here we are, the great rematch of the final in Berlin, the one that actually counts because (most of) the big boys are back. Italia is without Luca @#$%ing Toni and Marco Materazzi, la Frenchies' old nemesis, while France is at pretty much full-strength, minus The Chosen One, who has been battling injuries during the start of the season in L1 and not up to par yet (TCO is Samir Nasri if you're new here). The Azzurri are also missing a decent head coach and any sense of continuity in the lineup. France is suffering the opposite problem, as their resident buffoon has been perched up in the cheap seats by UEFA for his unfortunate misplacement of that much ballyhooed "Dossier of Evil." In an extreme understatement, having Ray Ray Dum Dum up in the stands is a good thing for France. Of course he did leave his fingerprints on the game by starting Julien Escude over Philippe Mexes. Escude being obviously a much better defender than Philou. Not to mention knowing the opponents because he's teammates with a few and plays against the rest every weekend in Serie A with Sevilla. Duh. Onto the starting XI's.
Diarrhea, Thuram, Escude, Abidal;
Ribery, Vieira, Makelele, Malouda;
Oddo, Canna, Barzagli, Zambrotta;
Camoranesi, Pirlo, Gattuso, De Rossi;
Del Piero, Inzaghi.
It's a good thing Donadumdum stuck with a familiar formation and players who had been starting regularly. Of course the back five were expected, but way to start 3 deep-lying mids and Camo in the midfield. That's tactical genius for you. I don't even know what to say about the ADP/Pippo pairing, it might have been the lesser of many many evils, but they blew. Bad. Oh, and arguably the best midfielder in all of Serie A over the first two weeks (and a couple not far behind, Foggia and Rosinaldo) hasn't even made the pine for the game. Yeah, I'll tackle that one at a later date. Whatever, the running diary.
(I couldn't see the clock during any of the game, so the minutes are complete guesses. If they're off, guess what? I don't care.)
7' I think I've been buffering for eons now, but here we go, back into the swing of things.
9' It's nice to see Zambrotta back after missing the last few qualifiers. It will be even nicer to get a few glimpses of Mrs. Zambro in the stands today (fingers crossed).
10' Anelka offside by a quarter-mile. He's been watching too many Pippo tapes.
12' Pirlo gets taken down from behind by Henry, then gets up with that usual look of disbelief on his face, saying, "Are you fucking kidding me?" It's either that or, "I think I just soiled myself, I hope nobody notices."
14' Mauro has his hair in a half-ponytail and has somehow worked that Argie-Italian hybrid into looking like a geisha.
16' Canna is taken down from behind in the box, no call. Who knew? France gets that call. And if that was Malouda, aka "King of the Invisible Tackle", Blatter would've sent him an official letter of apology and a gift basket full of scented bath oils and nipple lube.
19' France is getting way too many passing lane's in the Azzurri half. It's starting to open up like Paris Hilton's legs post-happy hour.
20' Pippo sucks. That is all.
21' It's like the field is on a slant, all the play is concentrated on the right because the LW is, well, there is no left wing.
22' Camo elbows Malouda in the face, probably facing a 3 year international ban and a civil suit for 1 billion euros from the FFF later this week.
27' Lassana Diarrhea (that's his new nickname) molests Zambro. Gianluca fails to get the call and/or be cuddled. Goddamn French.
28' Really really really missing Luca Toni right now. Hope Fab Quag's comes on soon. Oh. Wait. He's in the stands....
30' Gattuso gets a yellow for a late blow on The Human Beer Can (I apologize for that)
33' Nice pass into the box by Mauro, Del Piero gets it in the box and misses up close. Damn, 2002 was a looooooong time ago, wasn't it?
34' GREAT pass by Pirlo, Pippo puts it over the bar. Typical.
36' Vieira pulls his skirt up and slaps DDR in the face. Classy guy.
38' Close up of Mexes kicking his feet up and relaxing because he knows damn well he won't play. Even if Ray Ray Dum Dum is up in the stands wondering which shunned former Les Bleus star is at home sleeping with his wife.
39' Anelka taken down by clumsiness. Free kick France.
40' Ref is blousing his shirt, showing everyone how cool it is.
41' Ribery takes a hard shot towards....the corner flag.
433' Malouda lines one up and puts a missile high left and Buffon casually makes a phenomenal save. Donadumdum looks like a man whose job was just saved.
Halftime: No real domination by either side, a lot of switching off between midfield battles. Forwards are useless up to this point, really. Pirlo had some spectacular passes, but nobody really stood out. Mostly just both defenses doing their jobs and a couple good saves by each goaltender. Can you tell how unenthused I am?
46' No half-time changes.
48' Good shot from Camo, decent save by Landreau and a corner. 'Nother corner. Nothing.
51' It looks like The Don Doni unleashed an inspirational halftime monologue because the boys have come out looking very aggressive. Or maybe they're just being aggressive. Yeah, probably that one.
52' Cross comes in from Oddo, Inzaghi misses the header with his 6cm vertical. Once again, coincidentally the size of Pippo's Pippo.
52' Anelka makes his way into the box and takes a shot on goal which is followed up by a fantastic save by Gigi. Serie B last year or not, best keeper in the world and there isn't even a close second.
53' Thierry Henry has just been spotted in the stands with Tony Parker and Eva Longoria because he has yet to show up on the field yet.
56' Gattuso begins to stare down the ref on the ground because he had yet to award a free kick. Referree concedes to Medusa-like stare, awards foul. Damnit, doesn't he know this is the San Siro. Ivan's house.
57' Simone Perrotta on for Camo. No red card on the touchline, which is a good start for Simone these days. A smart tactical move by TDD, also. Because the team desperately needed some attacking width on the flanks and brining in the fourth central midfielder for your only winger will certainly do that. The man's a genius.
58' Now Gattuso wants a 20 second timeout because he got hit in the mouth. Ivan has turned into a Naomi Campbell prima donna mid match. He's one more late tackle from taking off his shoe and throwing it at somebody.
59' Great attacking chance for the Azzurri, but Del Piero gets bitched off the ball by half the France squad. Time to get him off.
63' Pippo coming off for the commie, which is good. They need a big body in there for all those crosses coming in from the wings.
64' Zambro has been spending an inordinate amount of time on the ground today. I'm sure there's a 'legs weak' + 'Mrs. Zambro' joke in here but I'm going to spare you (especially the ladies).
71' Tempo has really slowed down, we'll call this The David Pizarro Effect, and it looks headed towards a 0-0 draw at this point. Which was probably the case all along.
75' Makelele takes the fourth shot of his career towards the goal....at Stamford Bridge. Hits some old lady in the 3rd deck.
76' Henry has just absolutely disappeared. Where's Trezeguet? Bad memories?
78' France gets a 3v2, has absolutely nothing come of it. Both teams have sucked on the attack today.
79' DDR draws a free kick from 35 yards out....nada.
80' Seriously, Anelka has been much better than Titi. Who saw that coming? Put your hands down, liars.
82' Di Natale in for Del Piero. Fresh legs, nothing else.
85' DDR and Simone form a Roman tag team on Makelele. Awww, poor Frenchman.
86' Toulalan on for Ribery. Nothing says "we're going for a goal and the win" like bringing on a defensive mid for your best attacking midfielder.
87' Azzurri setting up an attack in the end of Frenchness, nothing comes of it - per usual. Di Natale is elbowed in the face, no call. Where was this ref during the USA game last year?
88' France parking the team behind the ball. That's "win at all cost" tactics for ya right there.
90' 3 minutes added. Excuse me, 3 more minutes of boredom added.
91' Oddo crosses from the left, hits a young kid in the first row of the stands....in Portugal. I think Oddo may be the first person in the history of football to someday take a cross and actually kick it out of the stadium. Seriously, some of those are just unreal.
Whistle. Nil - freakin' Nil.
I feel like I just watched two immensely talented but horribly coached teams go up against each other. Actually, that's what happened.
More on this game and stuff tomorrow/Monday. I need to go pick up my level of excitement by watching paint dry.