Do You Remember: Italy v Germany - World Cup 2006


Nearly everyone in the world of football will remember Zinedine Zidane’s infamous headbutt on Marco Materazzi in the 2006 World Cup Final in Berlin. The Frenchman, arguably the world’s best player at the time, finished his career in spectacular fashion, sending Materazzi to the pitch with a powerful headbutt to the Italian’s chest. The Italians ended up winning the match and indeed the tournament in penalties, but the Final still remains as only one of the memorable matches of the tournament for me.

Sure the Final had everything: goals, drama, excitement, extra time, and finally penalties, but it was Italy’s semi-final against hosts Germany that had everyone talking before that immortalizing headbutt. Germany were certain favorites in 2006. Led by former national team star Jürgen Klinsmann, Die Deutsche Nationalmannschaft had an excellent script planned out in their home country. Having won their group, they defeated Sweden and Argentina before facing Italy in the semis.

Superstar names like Cannavaro, Totti, Pirlo, Ballack, Klose, and Lahm littered the pitch on both sides. One name in particular, Torsten Frings, was absent from the German side, however, after he was seen taking a swipe at Julio Cruz after Germany defeated Argentina in the quarters. Over 65,000 fans crammed into Borussia Dortmund’s Signal Iduna Park to take in the European Derby of sorts, and though the first ninety minutes offered no goals, it was intriguing nonetheless. The Italians, known for their stalwart defensive tactics, were proving difficult to break down  but knew they’d have to start attacking in extra time to avoid penalties - a situation the Germans are renowned for being successful in.

Penalties weren’t meant to be, though. Despite taking 119 minutes to do so, the Italians finally broke the deadlock after Andrea Pirlo slipped a perfectly waited and angled ball into the path of Fabian Grosso. The left back made no mistake from the right side of the box and curled his shot just out of the reach of Jens Lehmann and into the back of the net.

The world was stunned. Everyone expected penalties at that point but Italy had other plans. The Germans still had time to get the ball back under control and dump a hopeful long ball into the box under a minute later, but Fabio Cannavaro’s ability in the air thwarted the chance. The Italians then broke quickly and  headed the other way. Alberto Gilardino found himself isolated down the left hand side in a 1 v 1 situation before cutting inside. Alessandro Del Piero timed an overlap to perfection, and when Gilardino slipped his countryman in, Del Piero used his right foot to fire the Italians into a 2-0 lead.

It really was an unbelievable end to a match that looked destined for penalties just three minutes prior. Germany’s hopes of lifting the World Cup in their own country disappeared instantly, and the Italians went marching on to the final. Many thought that regardless of what happened in the final, everyone would be talking about the semi-final between Italy and Germany for years to come. No one ever thought Zidane would do what he did, however, and the world immediately had a new moment to focus on. The Final was eventually won by the Italians, but the semi-final still goes down as one of the most memorable matches in World Cup history.

Posted in: Germany, Italy

1 Comment on "Do You Remember: Italy v Germany - World Cup 2006"

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  1. Flip says:

    Greatest game I ever watched! Buffon was out of his mind!

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