A Masterful Performance

Zidane celebrates victory over BrazilZinedine Zidane played today like it might be his last game. With Zidane retiring after this World Cup, if Les Bleus had lost against Brazil it would indeed have been Zidane’s last game. Instead Zidane produced a masterful display of soccer to lead the French over Brazil 1-0.

France was the better team today. With an ironclad defense led by Lilian Thuram, Patrick Vieira and Claude Makelele, Zidane was free to take control of the game from the midfield. Arguably no other man has dominated a World Cup game the way Zidane did today since the days of Diego Maradona. Zidane’s touch, control and ball distribution made the Brazilians look amateurish. Watching the game it was hard to believe that Zidane was playing against perhaps the best players in the world.

Zidane’s free kick to Thierry Henry’s feet at the far post was the icing on this sublime performance. Henry made no mistake in burying the ball at the back of the net.

BBC had this to say about Zidane and the French today:

Zidane was magnificent throughout, while after the interval the speed of Henry and Franck Ribery unsettled the Brazilian defence.

As early as the first minute Brazil were given a glimpse of what they were to experience for the remaining 89 minutes as Zidane glided away from a succession of Brazilian tackles as he executed a quick turn and that trademark stepover.

A Zidane flick that deceived Cafu was equally breathaking, while he held off and teased Kaka by juggling the ball.

Regardless of what happens to France in the two potential games remaining between Zidane and the Cup, his performance on the pitch today will be the stuff of World Cup legend.

Update: Britain’s Guardian calls Zidane France’s zen master in tribute. Sports Illustrated pays tribute to Zizou.

Video Updates from YouTube

This is video of play leading up to Zidane’s and Henry’s game winning goal. Watch Zidane get around Ronaldo with a flick of the ball and a header to start the attack. The commentary is in Japanese but you don’t have to speak the language to understand the exciting commentary.


This is a video compilation with English commentary of Zidane’s play throughout the match. As you watch the video, keep in mind that the players in yellow falling all around Zidane are not just ordinary players, they are Brazilians.


This is a very well done video compilation of Zidane’s play in the Brazil and Spain games. The video is set to, of all things, Rod Stewart’s "Young Turks".


This is a short video clip showing Zidane’s burst of speed as he spins away from the Brazilian defense

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10 Responses to A Masterful Performance

  1. I was watching this match and I couldn’t believe it could’ve been the last game in Zidane’s career. Watching Henry and Vieira working together made me wish Vieira never left Highbury.

    Arsene Wenger, if you’re reading this, can you please bring him back home?

  2. Alfredo says:

    If I were given only two words to describe Zidane’s performance during the entire 90-minute match against Brazil today, they’d be: fuckin’ awesome!

    My heart was with the Brazilians as Medina Cantalejo gave the initial whistle, but fifteen minutes into the match it became clear to me who was in charge: Les Bleus led by master Zinedine Zidane. The French team played an outstanding game; their victory was fully deserved.

    The sadness that I felt after seeing my team fall will be fully allayed by the joy of watching Zidane play at least one more game — hopefully two! — in this World Cup.

    Mash, I fully retract the comment I made about Zidane in an earlier post: he is indeed one of soccer’s greatest. You are right!

  3. Mash says:

    Robbie, the entire French team seemed to rise to the occasion. Vieira was sensational as he ran at the Brazilian defense. Henry made the one strike that he was given count. Ribery was also relentless – he is likely the future of France. The guy is like the energizer bunny.

    Alfredo, I thought Zidane played exceptionally well against Spain. I had no idea that he was going to raise his game to another level against the Brazilians. Even though he has lost a step after a long career, he was inspired yesterday and looked like Zidane in his prime. The Brazilians didn’t know what to do with him.

    I am not sure what happened to Ronaldinho in this World Cup. He showed flashes of briliance but never put anything together. I wonder if he has been dining with Ronaldo! 🙂 The Brazilian to watch in the future is Robinho. Like Messi, he is going to be something special.

    I think France now has a real shot at the Cup, and certainly, if they can maintain their level of play.

    Against Portugal, if the French defense can contain Christiano Ronaldo then they should do well. They need to keep Ronaldo from getting shots on goal against the roller coaster ride that is Barthez. The Portugal defense is weak and Zidane, Henry, Ribery and Vieira should be able to make mincemeat of them.

    If they make to the finals, I have to assume it will be Germany there to greet them. The middle of the German defense is suspect. But it also depends on which German team shows up to play. If its the team that dazzled up front with Klose and Podolski France will have a match on its hands. In front of the home crowd, the Germans should be in great form. I love watching both the Germans and the French play. If it wasnt for Zidane, I would be rooting for the Germans. As it is, its Les Bleus all the way.

    I’ve updated the post with videos from YouTube. Enjoy the show 🙂

  4. MHB says:

    A Franco-German final? All-european, for sure, who woulda thunk it… It’s actually too bad Germany couldn’t have played Argentina in the semis or finals…

    Unbeatable Brazil kept playing like they could turn it on, turn it off in their earlier games – but clearly it came back to haunt them and they couldn’t turn it on against a much better team, at least yesterday, in France. Wish they still had Scolari?

    Speaking of coaches, I agree with whoever wrote or said that England had the wrong coach – he never had them playing inspired or like a team. Maybe they needed a yeller, not a laid-back quiet one. And what’s with their PKs? They could hit them in practice but not in the most important game of their lives? Coach needs to figure that out before he selects them…

    Should the US keep Arena?

    Go Deutschland…

  5. Terence says:

    An Australian commentator, who was in the stands, said that when Zidane first got the ball, and immediately did some of his magic, the crowd stood and applauded.

    I’m new to soccer; I’ve watched nearly every game this WC; I was completely blown away by the Brazil-France game, especially Zidane, but mostly the way France played as a team. Only now have I experienced how brilliant the game can be to watch. It was thrilling!

  6. Bengali Fob says:

    Doc, you certainly are a Zidane fan. Wat’re you going to do when he’s done? Anyway, I’m rooting for France and Germany in the finals like most. I’ve also been transformed into a France fan and it’s all because of Zidane. Always liked the guy, but I never supported France like I did during that game…

    Brazil fans will probably kill me, but how could I not support the French when they played so magnificently?! Any true football fan would’ve! Go France go!

  7. Mash says:

    Fob, one more game for Zidane! 🙂

    I’ll have to find another great player to watch. Ronaldinho will give us plenty of entertainment hopefully for some years to come.

    But, man, am I going to miss watching Zidane play! :((

  8. Milkyway says:

    Why is Henry playing. I watch Arsenal all the time and he does very well but when it comes to *big* fixtures, Henry is no where to be found!!!

    He is overrated. Put Saha in!

  9. Mash says:

    Milkyway, Saha almost gave the game away against Portugal ~:>

  10. Milkyway says:

    Now you know who I supported 😉

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