Forza Italia!Well, they say it's no way to end a tournament, but it's usually how England's ends, so why not?
It will be remembered for Zidane's dismissal, which is a pity, because he had, a shaky first twenty minutes aside, again run the midfield, harking back to his pomp. France seemed to have timed their run through the tournament to perfection, peaking at the final. Italy, too, looked a different proposition from the team that scraped through against Australia -- although it would be a mistake to think that they were overwhelmed by the Aussies. All in all, it was an excellent final, which they haven't been recently. Two sides came to play good football and some of the world's finest players excelled. Both of these teams were far superior to England, and either would have been a worthy winner. It's fair that France can take consolation that they matched the world champions. And Italy did what it took. Australia might feel that they could have gone to the semis, but they didn't have the moxie to score against Italy. There isn't a great deal between top and middle in football but you do need that bit extra. One needs only look at the quarterfinal lineup to realise that. Ukraine aside, every single one of the tournament's fancied sides made the quarters (which were excellent games of football, barring England's scrappy draw with Portugal). Quality told. Italy surprised me. Pretournament, I had not thought they would be good enough (I tipped Brazil, with France my tip for a place). But as I noted during the tournament, they had what it took. And they did. They are worthy winners, worthy champions, the best team in football, and the troubles of Italian football have been, for a short while, burned away by Pirlo, Gattuso, Toni and, of course, Fabio Grosso.