World Cup Semifinals

An amazing game in Dortmund saw Italy defeat hosts Germany (their first ever loss there). An absorbing match finished goalless after normal time, despite many chances for both sides. Italy hit the frame of the goal twice in the first period of extra time and it seemed like luck had deserted them. Germany had already won a penalty shoot out, whilst Italy historically had never done well in such a situation. Midfielder Pirlo (magnificent the whole match) unlocked the Germans with two minutes left, and fullback Grosso swung a first time shot around German keeper Lehmann for a wonderful goal that silenced eighty thousand German fans. As they tried to get back to level terms, Germany relinquished possession and Del Piero stabbed in an equally beautiful clinching goal. 2-0 Italy. Germany have only lost thrice to Italy; tellingly those matches were two World up Semifinals (1970 and 2006) and a Final (1982 again!). The omens are crying out for the Italians, who just shaded one of the best matches of all time. France deservedly held on to defeat Portugal 1-0. Zidane (who else?) scored from the penalty spot in the first half. They played far too deep in the second half (tired old legs?) but Portugal, one of the weakest semifinalists ever, failed to make a decent opportunity. French goalkeeper Barthez was their best chance, with a string of erratic moments. The French look to be running out of steam and it would be an amazing end to Zidane’s career if he could pull one final performance out of his locker. France have too many holes, for me, though, with Henry in attack, they do have a chance of victory. Italy slight favourites, though.


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