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05 July 2006


Des McGrath

It is usually in the round of 16 or quarter finals that such masterpieces are made. Matches in which tougher opposition inspires teams to collectively rise to a new level, combining passion and elegance, capped by instances of sublime individual skill.
Not this year, though. The semi-finals were not up to that level, even if both Italy goals were beautiful.
More recent mastepieces were Brazil-Holland and Romania-Argentina in 1994, and Holland-Argentina in 1998. France and Italy produced a memorable final in Euro 2000, so there’s hope yet.
There were no masterpieces in 2002 because too many good teams got knocked out too early on. That excuse doesn’t apply this year. Maybe the pendulum is swinging back in favour of defence-minded teams.
Let’s blame Jose Mourinho!

Gary Naylor

Interesting aside re del Piero - does he look as much like Bruce Springsteen in the flesh? Bruce has been rather more impressive in stadium outings recently...


He was wearing a dark suit and looked alarmingly fit, skinny, and not very tall--which is to say, he looked the way footballers always look in the flesh. Born to run.

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