First Goal wins. :D

Further, if the goal is early then I fully expect a 2-1 or even 3-2 game. Otherwise it will be a very tight 1-0 game. Both teams are very tough to score on, so if they get an early goal and the other team has to press the attack look for some lovely end-to-end action as the winning side counter-attacks.

Matchups to watch:

  • Henry vs Canavaro/Materazzi/Barzagli
    Henry will look to get behind the Italian defenders, who are not slow, but cannot hope to catch Henry in open space. If Italy is behind or ahead in the score will determine how many 1v1s Henry will get. Watch out for Materazzi as he is easily pulled out of the center (not sure if its by design) to chase opposing forwards while Canavarro stays home. A secondary run by someone like Riberry could cause problems.
  • Zidane vs Totti
    Not a direct matchup, but who gets more “influential” touches will likely decide the game. Zidane has been on fire, but can his old legs keep it up? I think so, which means this will be very entertaining.
  • Gattuso vs Riberry
    Riberry is very mobile and can show up anywhere on the field. Gattuso will be torn between Riberry and Zidane, but fortunately has lots of help.
  • Barthez vs Barthez
    Barthez is good for at least one “oops” per game. The Italians are very good at taking advantage of these types of mistakes and will surely be looking to force Barthez into decisions
  • Thuram/Gallas vs Toni/Gillardino
    Toni will start, the only question is will he be paired with Gillardino or Totti. He took alot of abuse by the Germans and held up well until tiring midway through the second half. He will cause problems, but this central duo is perhaps the greatest strength of the french team and they will get plenty of help from Sagnol, Abidal and Makalele

Who am I rooting for?