Tuesday, June 17, 2008

France-Italy: Not for children

First time Italy played an official national football match was in Milan in 1910. They won 6-2 against one of the other best teams in history, France, laying the groundwork for an almost-centennial rivalry.

Tonight they are at it again in an all-for-nothing match in the first round of the Euro 2008. True, both teams have been a huge disappointment so far, but with their backs against the wall, the match tonight could truly be a drama PG-16.

The two countries have faced each other 35 times in official matches (tonight will be their 36th) with Italy winning 17, France 8, and 10 matches ending in a draw. The last includes two penalty shootouts: one memorable one in the World Cup final of 2006, where Italy won, and another one in the quarterfinal of the 1998 World Cup, where France won (and eventually became world champion).

In fact, the last ten years has only seen important matches between these two giants: besides the 2006 World Cup final, they also faced one another in the Euro 2000 final, where France won after exra time after Wiltord equalized Italy’s lead in the 90th minute, and Trezeguet scoring the winner in extra time.

In the qualifying for this current Euro 2008, the two teams also faced each other, and after the 2006 World Cup, France came out the best: they won 3-1 at home and managed to tie 0-0 in Italy to win the group.

Tonight will be a completely different story, but be certain that a new chapter of drama is to be written into the books of these two football giant’s rivalry.

I hope good and fair football will be the winner, and wish the best to all the charming fans of either team!

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