Wednesday, July 12, 2006

France v Italy, BBC1

Inevitably, Gary starts outside, promising "the last chapter of a tale that began a month ago" by a statue of a pile of books to the usual dramatic choral music. "They came from all over the world to take part and we've ended with two nations who popped in from next door" is how he sums up the finale, even if you can then guess where his big "they said they were over the hill..." spiel is going - Shearer, Hansen and O'Neill. The focus of the build-up is whether "ageing legs" can get through at least ninety minutes, as if they're all going to collapse at about the 55 mark if they're lucky. Gary senses "pangs of history" in the venue alone, which is an interesting choice of words given what it was built for, as the other mainspring of the hour's build-up, Zidane, comes into play, Hansen reckoning "if he doesn't play that well tonight he'll be remembered for sentimental reasons". As opposed to? The more pragmatic O'Neill reveals "Gattuso - he's become my hero".

Damien Johnson is fronting our first report on a bridge a long way away from the camera in a Hanover castle where France have been based, having "been like aristocrats" just to fit the mood. Why do BBC Sport voiceover translators always sound so weedy? Seemingly jolted into action unexpectedly Gary assures us "the French team is, er, largely as expected." Garth gets Italy and wastes it by asking Lippi about Manchester Utd, getting the expected response from someone who'd be more at home talking up the possibilities of what Gary refers to as "their firth...fourth win". Ray's on gantry duty today with a shouting Desailly wearing his actual signed final shirt over his actual shirt. He hopes France have "much more sprint, much more all the final wins", as he is wont to do. He also reveals Aime Jacquet didn't go in for team talks, which Gary picks up on: "The key to great management - say nothing!" After Leonardo has met Gianluca Vialli with little consequence it's, hurrah, the moments of the tournament! Hansen, Strachan and McCarthy are agreed on Argentina's multi-pass eventual Goal Of The Tournament, Shearer and Crooks plump for Joe Cole, Hansen, Strachan and McCarthy Arg 2nd v S&M; Shearer, Crooks J Cole; Dixon, Bhasin and Peacock for Maxi Rodriguez, Mowbray and Wright go for Graham Poll - literally - Chiles talks about Brazil-Croatia ("I just had goose flesh all over me"), Celina Hinchcliffe promotes that nebulous concept, 'atmosphere', Desailly and Pearce go for Germany v Costa Rica, Dowie mentions Fernando Torres, Leonardo salutes Ronaldo's record, Brotherton nominates Totti's penalty, only Mark Bright names Italy v Germany, Johnson, Stubbs and O'Neill salute Zidane again and Motson, often first to the oddest selection, mentions the "emotional" Zidane and Figo swapping shirts. We also get reminded by Iain Dowie of his own phone faux pas and Lawrenson reminds us of the pundits around a pub table during Mexico v Iran. No Wilson, oddly. Gary then reminds us anyway of "the quality of the punditry" just so they can laugh at Hansen. "Get your money on France quick!" seems to be the punchline.

After a chat between Chiles and Noel Gallagher that's very nice for both but goes nowhere Ray returns with Leonardo explaining why he wants Italy to win. We're not entire sure what he was getting at. Then you start to really wonder whether maybe this started a little early as a profile of the actual stadium involves Adrian having to read a poem from its perspective and have the good grace not to sound too embarrassed. "The Brummie bard at his brilliant best" Gary covers. Oh look, another Zidane tribute, and this one in slo-mo. Everyone hopes he'll come good but as O'Neill, who seems to have a theme building, pricks our collective conscious "Gattuso doesn't do sentiment, does he?" Shearer tries manfully to talk clips of Henry up, "Wiltord should break his neck to get there" a particular highlight. He's predicting penalties while Martin wonders about the keepers, "one brilliant, one bold". Gary sends us off with some stats that bode both ways and hands to Motson, who decides to read off the clubs of the whole French starting eleven and seems disappointed that there will be players from the tournament not in the final. That's how the cookie crumbles, John.

First half:
- "This match needs to kick off at 8pm local time exactly. Mark Lawrenson, can you fill thirty seconds for me?"
- "Well, perhaps there is drama in the first minute" as Henry goes down briefly. Lawrenson helpfully adds "there's always that element of doubt, you're really waiting for the player to tell you".
- Motson on yellows: "If they get a second card...well, if you get two tonight it's different..."
- "This is Malouda - oh, Malouda goes down! Penalty!" Both seem non-commital about the call, but not about "a war of nerves between one of the world's great players and one of the world's best goalkeepers" "Oh, it's hit the underside of the bar and is it over the line? Goal has been given! Goal has been given!" Mark: "I'm not quite sure whether the penalty was cool enough, were you?"
- "From a neutral perspective, is that not the best thing that can happen?"
- "Musn't overwhelm you with these things..." Motson admits after reeling off a load of stats
- The Lawrenson thesaurus is back out - "he doesn't know whether to stick or twist, does he, Barthez?"
- "Marcello Lippi - biting his lip, and not surprisingly".
- "Referee's had to sort out a bit of nonsense there. Materazzi climbing - and it's the equaliser!" All happening, all told. "Would you believe that?" Lawrenson declares of the towering header that "he was head and shoulders above everybody".
- Lawro sets Motson a question about defenders scoring "it's so rhetorical I don't expect you to answer it. Actually, I probably do."
- Motson on Makelele: "it's like ironing a shirt, isn't he? He irons out all the wrinkles for France." Lawro: "yeah, he's never pressed, is he?" Then Mark refers to "Rivery".
- Ashton-under-Lyme gets its obligatory mention 32 minutes in, Motson reeling off his family history before admitting "that's absolutely all I know about him!"
- "Materazzi is there yet again - and yet again!"
- "It's still sweltering here in the commentary box...oh, that's a better picture, isn't it?" as a woman comes into view. Yeah, cheers.

At half time Gary compares it to the 1974 final, more in hope than anything, admitting "tactically it's fascinating". A double edged verbal sword if ever there was one. We get shots of Rome and Milan, Shearer commenting "great scenes" for both. Apparently "we've had emails" about whether the corner for Italy's goal went out of play, everyone judging on the slo-mo that it probably didn't quite. Ray has the two foreign pundits with him and they're as comfortable with the surroundings and language as ever, Leonardo referring to "a big demonstration of how they are inside the match" while Marcel starts with a camp "ooooh!". Ray manages to silence both by suggesting they might be required should it go much longer. The thought of attacking options is all the filip they need in the studio, Alan filling brief dead air by wondering "how good would it be to lift that trophy?" Gary brings him back down with a "It's not gonna happen for us!"

Second half:
- "Mark Lawrenson?" "France have only got ten players out...oh, Zidane." Motson actually timed the length of the break.
- Motson works in "indefatigable" re Grosso. That takes some doing.
- Our director somehow manages to play live coverage and a replay on screen simultaneously.
- "Since he had the knock on the head he's become a different player" is Lawrenson's charitable view as Malouda heads down the wing and nearly crosses onto Ribery's head.
- Vieira goes off to much confusion, especially as neither can understand Perrotta moving right.
- "What's going to happen down there, Mark?" He doesn't quite know but sees De Rossi and Iaquinta. "Be interesting to see if Totti stays on" he ponders, and indeed up his number goes. "Don't think he wants to know, he's walking away with his back - oh, he's seen it now."
- Out of nothing, "Toni closes in!" "Offside, John!" "There was a flag! There was a flag!" "It's a correct decision by the official on the far side, I think." Minutes later, "we've not had a replay of the disallowed goal, have we?" Well, what did you just get a second comment on from then, John? "Having just seen it the once, it might have just been offside against Toni" he eventually concedes.
- "He's just checking to see...oh, Zidane's off!" He's struggling with his shoulder, and as Lawro says "if that's dislocated it's the most painful experience ever". A couple of minutes' worry later, "In fact, he's coming back on!"
- "A lot of promise but not a lot of fulfilment" is how Motson describes it at the end of 90 minutes, the pundits trying not to sound too down. Lawrenson points out of the French team "they got themselves in a circle and did their own team talk - Domenech was two or three yards away from the incident".

Extra time:
- "He's through the legs of Cannavaro!" Really?
- "It's almost walking football, isn't it?" Well, it's you who's been talking about what they've got in their legs all evening. Motson has a plan: "So few goals get scored after extra time I'm wondering if they should start to take penalties after 90 minutes."
- "Ribery....Ribery...Ribery! He should have scored!" "He's gone to pass it..." Lawro says, followed by an indecipherable noise that may well have disguised swearing. Ribery immediately gets subbed.
- ", Zambrotta with the throw" Er... Lawrenson's not helping much, analysing "they've sat deeper and deeper and deeper like they're looking for penalties". Motson somewhat disturbingly reckons "he (Barthez) might be the centre of attraction and attention", before remarking "pity, I thought the golden goal was a great idea but FIFA didn't".
- Motson and Lawrenson respectively: "This is interesting, this is Trezeguet, is it?" "Trezeguet, with Materazzi?" "I think it's Zidane, Mark, I think a head may have gone in there" "If the referee has seen that..." "He's off" "The Italians must be saying to the referee that you and your assistants have missed that" "You cannot give something on someone's say-so..." "Lippi has come down the line and been restrained by the fourth official...and the assistant referee has said something, and he's reaching for his card, and he's off!" "As long as they have seen it you can't argue with that." "Zidane's career ends in disgrace" "You can't boo the referee!" "The man who dismissed Rooney for the stamp dismisses Zidane for the head" Motson flourishes.
- It's difficult to tell who's keeping the tighter grip on their emotions, Zinedine or John. "It's chaos here now!" the latter declares before adding "bedlam in Berlin!" It might have seen worse times, John. He's getting frustrated with the lack of attacking, at one point scowling "Toni and Iaquinta would have appreciated a pass there".
- "There's bad blood in the air" John remarks, predicting trouble on the final whistle. There isn't any, and so to penalties, and a noticeable cut back to the box sound

"We've seen it all now" is Alan's curt remark as Gary wonderws before forgetting whether video evidence was covertly used. Everyone agrees that's pretty much all worthy of comment in extra time, so back we go...

- "They're tossing up, clearly". Yeah, alright.
- "Is this the way to World Cup glory?" as the tannoy apparently plays Amarillo. Oh, don't you start, rest of Europe.
- "Materazzi's done just about everything else in this game"
- "Juventus against Juventus - what does Buffon know? He's hit the bar!" "Trezeguet's looking at the referee...", but the grand return of the in-goal camera reveals it didn't cross the line.
- "The next kick can win the World Cup" "Luca Toni?" "Grosso!"
- "He's done it! Italy win the World Cup for the fourth time!"

As Motson overtly declares of Italy "overall you could say they lifted the straightjacket of negativity and donned the cloak of adventure..." we head back to the studio where much is made of Italy coming from a very low place, Alan declaring "any other nation in the world would have struggled with those problems". Much more, obviously, is made of Zidane now they've got time, Leonardo back on the gantry calling him "a symbol of the last generation" while O'Neill ends the speculation on whether Materazzi said anything with "that only happens every 15 seconds in a game". Back to the commentators for the trophy presentation, where they're busy debating the fourth official's role before Lawrenson finds time to spare a thought for Saha, which is more than anyone watching would surely do, and curiously sums up the impending Italian domestic disharmony with "these players are saying get thee behind me, Satan!" The players are behaving very strangely ("never seen headgear like that in a ceremony" "it's some mother's headscarf!"; "Don't break it before you've got it!") with one seemingly missing for the moment - "it'd be nice if we could spot Cannavaro, wouldn't it?" Motson wonders as Materazzi puts a hat on the trophy. "It'd be best to leave that for a few minutes, wouldn't it?" John sagely counsels. Finally, "not so much Cannavaro as can you believe it? On the evening he wins his hundredth cap Italy are four time world champions...That's what they've played for all their life". Leonardo comes back just to clarify that he's only criticising Zidane for that action alone, remembering his own World Cup suspension, while Desailly still as florid around the language as usual before being cut off. Everyone agrees it's been a lovely atmosphere the teams couldn't match, Gary summing it up as "a night of drama and madness in Berlin" before the Goethe poetry over mightily dramatic Bach ends the whole shebang.

Four year's time, then?


Blogger Matt said...

"Why do BBC Sport voiceover translators always sound so weedy?"

I've been wondering about this myself. The voiceovers they used for the Portugal game were pretty feeble as well, with Scolari's sounding like a particularly weedy simpleton. At the time I just thought it was some plan to undermine the opposition, but now I'm not so sure.

1:45 PM, July 13, 2006


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