The Italy-France game turned out to be the scrappy affair we had been expecting as both teams failed to produce anything special in the goal-less draw. With harsh words exchanged between the two sides before the game and the recent history between these two international powerhouses, the game was bound to be dull and tense. But the fans were not the only one who had to suffer. Lubos Michel, the referee in charge with the game, had a very difficult afternoon as both teams had their hearts set on playing dishonestly.
The two sides started that game in despicable fashion as they both tried to draw fouls that never were from the referee although the visitors quickly turned their back on the dirty tactics and got on with their game, which in all fairness was of poor quality. However the Italians backed by a capacity filled San Siro continued to put pressure on the referee as they crumbled to the ground even after the most minimal of contact. Mr. Lubos could not see every bit of trickery that the host were pulling on him and ended up making several mistakes, though none of them were serious enough to have a real impact on the game.
The dirty tactics did not stop at diving as the French television continuously showed replays of Italian player taking cheap shots at Domenech’s men. However Mr. Lubos had a hard time spotting these as well. The fouls during the game were particularly tough, especially the ones conceded by substitute winger Perrotta, who at one point infuriatingly stepped on Florent Malouda who was lying on the grass at moment. The incident took place in the last minute of the game and while a foul was awarded for the trip on the French winger, one might say that Mr. Lubos needs a new pair of glasses as he did not spot what should have been a red card incident either.
However that is as far as it would go with regards to serious mistakes from last night’s referee who although was poor did better than expected on a field where twenty-two player were constantly trying to cheat.
Good calls: 17 (2)
Bad calls: 8 (0)
Difference: 9 (2)
Good calls: 7 (1)
Bad calls: 2 (0)
Difference: 9 (1)
Italy: 68% (100%)
France: 78% (100%)
Overall: 73% (100%)
The game, which could have easily been a fantastic one, was a terrible scrappy affair as two of the most talented teams in the world turned to cheap tactics to try to get anything out of the game rather than put to use an outrageous amount of skill available to them. It was utterly disappointing to watch such a game and it is worrying to see the direction in which football is heading these days. However it was nice to see that smaller teams like Iceland do not waste time when they are in the lead and do not try to deceive the referee or fake injuries even when they have a priceless advantage over heavyweights such as the Spanish team. They should have earned some respect today from all football fans as they played football the way it should be played from all aspects of the game.