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Saturday, July 01, 2006

Zidane, Zidane, Zidane

Brazil is out. And Zidane once again has proved he is the giant of the current game.

Spinning, cajoling, directing, weaving, observing, striking...Zidane's performance was effortless today. That was one to write up in the history books. Zidane, captain of the French midfield was not simply the best player on the pitch, he proved himself once again to be the player with the deepest understanding of the game. What he lacked in speed and agility...and that's surprisingly little for a 34 year old...he made up for in savvy and wisdom.

Zidane knew what it would take, did it, and made it look so simple that one asked oneself...did I just see that? A break around Cafu, a flip over the head of Roberto Carlos, a spin upfield that zig-zagged between two Brazilian defenders who were supposed to be doing that very thing to the old man. Zidane untied the knot of the Brazilian defense with a few quick strokes.

When Zidane sent that ball arcing over the Brazilian back line in a huge rainbow of a free kick...there was not a single person watching surprised when Thierry Henry flicked it definitively into the top of the Brazilian net: it seemed pre-ordained and logical.

Zinedine Zidane is the Pascal of football. His Pensées are deft movements and perfectly executed plays. They are simple. Short. Graceful. They are surprisingly explosive and self-assured.

What we saw in his face today...half-grimace, half-grin....we've seen in the visage of a very few in the annals of sport. A man completely at ease with the test he had left himself. A self-sufficient master at peace with success or failure and focused on the task at hand.

Here was a man who found the measure of his team and his moment by resolutely expressing what was most pure, what was most essential in his own game. And Zidane brought forth the best from his team like a director...in French they say a metteur-en-scene...a "constructor of scenes". A win meant Zidane would play again, a loss meant his final game and France's exit from the tournament.

And while the edifice of France's victory today was a thrilling group effort...the essence of its architecture rested in the mind and will of one man. Zidane imposed himself not simply on one game but on this entire World Cup. He has given us fans something we will always remember:

The visage, the eyes, the darting passes of a master defiantly spinning out one last brilliant moment before taking his bow and disappearing.

7 Comments:

  • and to top it off, his first impulse upon winning the game was to walk over and start hugging brazilian players.

    a class act all the way. i'm cheering for france from here on out.

    By Anonymous wu ming, at 5:03 PM  

  • He was also cool and unflappable both during and after the match. Grace under pressure and this was a very nice diary. Merci and Allez les Bleus. Nice to see some recognition from Americans on the quality of this team.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:39 PM  

  • This was the first of the games that I have been able to watch coherently. I thought I was a Brazil fan, but I was completely entranced by Zidane!

    By Blogger janinsanfran, at 8:30 PM  

  • this is the best piece of writing on the Cup that I have come across so far. just a sublime as zidane. i used to scoff at how americans don't 'get' the game.
    if everyone here starts getting influenced by this stuff, the american game will go far indeed!

    By Anonymous kd_paloalto, at 2:43 AM  

  • I was impressed by Ribery's hustle, likewise with Hargreaves for the English. Both of those guys just worked their asses off the whole game.

    But yeah, Zidane.

    By Anonymous jsw, at 10:55 AM  

  • Great comments all.

    And I agree jsw, Ribery and Hargreaves hustled. I was more impressed with Ribery.

    w/o Vieira, France would not be where it is...as well.

    By Blogger kid oakland, at 6:21 PM  

  • Great post. I appreciate both Zidane's play and your writing style.

    By Anonymous Youssef, at 5:57 AM  

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