spinachdip's guide to the 2006 World Cup: Brazil vs France
Saturday, July 1
Brazil vs France (3 pm ET ESPN/Univision)
Ronaldo is Fat Elvis, Kaka is Young Elvis, Zinedine Zidane is Jay-Z, Thierry Henry is Beyoncé
Laugh all you want at Big Ron/Elvis, he makes shit happen. You remember that comeback special in Hawaii? That shit is classic. He's not as sharp as he used to be and he certainly can't move end to end like he did back in '98 and '02, but they still can't defend against him.
Meanwhile, Kaka has been running things in midfield like Elvis shaking his hips on Ed Sullivan. Like Elvis back when he was doing those crappy movies and pretending to serve in the army, Kaka isn't quite polished yet, and he's not even a Top 5 attacking midfielder in the world, but when you're passing to Ronaldo and Ronaldinho and Adriano, you don't need to be great, just good enough.
So is Zizou retiring or isn't he? I mean, he said he was done playing for France, but the team looked clueless without him and he had to come to the rescue, like Jay pops out of his Def Jam office now and then to help out Memph or Jeezy. Sure, he's not as good as he used to be - we worship him because of his Juventus years/Reasonable Doubt - but when he wants to, he can drop a classic like that goal in Champions League final or Blueprint.
Meanwhile, both Henry and Beyoncé seem capable of putting out good stuff when they're counted on, with Arsenal or Destiny's Child, but when playing for France, Henry seems content to let Zidane work the magic or let the Rich Harrison production do the work. Henry has yet to really show up for his country, but they're going to need him to keep the Brazilian defense honest.
Here we have the the winners of the last 3 World Cups (France in 1998, Brazil in 2002 and 1994). So yeah, it's kind of a big deal. It's also a tough one to handicap. Brazil is Brazil, but they looked human against Ghana, who took the game to the canaries and the game wasn't out of reach until late. Kaka made a brilliant pass to set Ronaldo free on the first goal, but that doesn't happen had Michael Essien not been suspended. And France finally came out against Spain, but they sleep-walked through the whole first round. Was the Spain game a sign of things to come or the soccer equivalent of a dead guy twitching? Both teams have a lot to prove. Both teams are flawed. But I'm going with the team that has Ronaldinho.
My fearless prediction: Brazil 2-1 France
Oh, and since we're going with a Jay-Z theme here, Patrick Vieira/Claude Makélélé are Ghostface/Raekwon