Well I didn't see that coming! Then again I don't think anyone believed that the final of this years World Cup would be played out by France (knocked out in the last World Cup without scoring a goal and full of has-beens) and Italy (scandal-hit nation, that have failed to impress for years). But hey, that's football.
The two semi-finals were almost complete opposites. Despite waiting for 118 minutes for the first goal, the Germany v Italy game was probably the second best match of the knockout phase (after the Argentina v Mexico game). The France v Portugal semi, was woeful. Once France had scored we got to watch dull football continually marred even more by blatant diving.
I would say that France deserved their place in the final having deservedly beaten Spain and Brazil in previous rounds, but they hadn't exactly looked like World Champions. The same could be said of Italy. They hadn't played really well in the first 4 games, but seemed to have just that little bit extra to see them through.
The 3rd Place Playoff
I think that Martin O'Neill summed it up when he said this was "the most pointless match in history". Germany won. Nobody cared. Enough said really.
Unlike many World Cups, this final was actually an exciting affair. Two early goals, some decent chances, a sending off and penalties. Can't really argue with that. In the end France probably deserved to win the match but failed to deliver enough shooting chances. Zidanes moment of madness was shocking to see, especially as it was his last act in football, but we should remember that this is a player who, despite all his greatness, has received something like 14 red cards in his career, so he's not exactly reknowned for being calm.
It was nice that Italy proved they could bury all those previous penalty defeats by scoring 5 out of 5. It's a shame that England can't do the same!
France 1 - 1 Italy aet (Italy win 5-3 on penalties).
In the end
As I said at the beginning of the World Cup, all of the top teams had problems, which was why I was confident anyone could win it. Having said that I really didn't expect to see France and Italy there in the end!
After a fantastic group phase, the World Cup failed to deliver in the knockout phases. There were too few goals, too few moments of brilliance and to few classic matches. It reminded me of Italia '90 (often considered the worst World Cup) in that too many teams played defensive football in fear of conceding a goal.
Italy are the World Champions, although I struggle to say they deserved it. Then again, I can't think of any team in this years tournament that actually did deserve to win it, by the end.
World Cup Winners List
Brazil - 5 (1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, 2002)
Italy - 4 (1934, 1938, 1982, 2006)
Germany - 3 (1954, 1974, 1990)
Argentina - 2 (1978, 1986)
Uruguay - 2 (1930, 1950)
England - 1 (1966)
France - 1 (1998)