Pattaya Daily News

04 July 2006 :: 17:07:12 pm 7472

World Cup Down to the Final Four

After nearly a month of watching and waiting, we are down to the final four teams.
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   The World Cup is often referred to as the biggest sporting event on the global stage next to the Olympics. In fact, the Olympics may have provided the spark which launched the World Cup into the global event that it has become.

   Following the International Olympic Committee‘s decision to award the 1932 Summer Games to Los Angeles, a disagreement between FIFA and the IOC over the status of amateur players and a lack of general interest among Americans led to the sport of soccer being dropped from the Olympic program.

   Jules Rimet, president of FIFA at the time, came up with the idea of bringing the world‘s strongest soccer teams together to compete for the title of World Champions. As Uruguay was regarded by FIFA as being the World Champions due to their Olympic gold medal victory in 1928, they were given the honour of staging the first ever World Cup tournament in 1930.
   
   However, the first ever World Cup was in danger of being staged without European representation as many nations balked at the lengthy trip across the Atlantic. Rimet managed to pursuade the likes of Belgium, France, Romania and Yugoslavia to make the trip and in the end a total of 13 nations took to the pitch in Montevideo.

   The first ever World Cup goal is credited to Lucient Laurent of France against Mexico, and Uruguay maintained their claim to being world champions by defeating Argentina 4-2 in the first ever final.

   Skip ahead to 2006, the host country, Germany.  It began nearly a month ago, with 32 teams from all over the globe competing for one prestigious prize, The World Cup Trophy. Along the way we have watched some brilliant matches, magical goals, hard fouls, yellow and red cards, and some suspect refereeing. Now, as we close in on crowning the 2006 champions of the football world, four remaining teams are hoping it will be them.

      Germany, Italy, France and Portugal have proved to be the cream of the crop this year, and hope they have what it takes to go all the way. Of the four remaining teams, France won the most recent World Cup in 1998 with the Germans winning in 1990.

Germany vs. Italy

   History is not on the German‘s side in this meeting: The Germans have met Italy in the Cup four times and have never won, going 0-2-2. Their most recent meeting was the 1982 final in Spain, which Italy won 3-1. All-time, Italy leads the Germans with a record of 13-7-8.

   Last time the two sides met, in March, Jürgen Klinsmann almost got sacked after seeing his side lose 4-1. Since then, however, the Germans have yet to lose a game. However, Germany has a huge advantage: it‘s playing at home and at its favorite Dortmund stadium where it has yet to lose a game, going an astonishing 13-0-1 against all comers.

   Germany will be in tough after learning that FIFA’s disciplinary committee has banned midfielder Torsten Frings for this match. He was found guilty of punching Argentina forward Julio Cruz following Germany’s previous match and subsequent victory over Argentina.

   Don‘t discount Italy, however: They emerged out of one of the toughest groups and have conceded only one goal … which they scored themselves, for the USA.
 
   Germany and Italy meet in their semi-final match tonight.

Portugal vs. France

   The last time France and Portugal met, in the Eastern Championship of 2000, Zidedine Zidane scored a decisive penalty kick to give France a berth in the finals – a melee then broke out.

   The Portuguese remember the events of six years ago. Helder Postiga told the Portuguese press yesterday, “The rivalry is enormous, and the 2000 game has stuck in our throats a bit”.

   The French face Portugal again in a tough semi-final match Wednesday. Portugal gets playmaker Deco and midfield stopper Costinha back from suspension and plan to spread the ball wide and attack the flanks, in hopes of scoring on a stingy French team that has only conceded two goals in the tournament.

   I’m not one for making predictions, but both these games seem like they are going to be well worth the wait. Enjoy the games!

Reporter : PDN staff   Photo : Internet   Category : Sports News

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