Archive for November 17th, 2007

“Forza Italia!” Even the French are on our side…

Saturday, November 17th, 2007

“Forza Italia!” Even the French are on our side…

Hard to believe, but it’s all real. L’Équipe‘s front-page all-caps headline “Forza Italia” leaves little doubt on who France will be cheering for on Saturday. The French sports newspaper even features a huge picture of Luca Toni, doing the “crazy” hand-sign he usually does after scoring a goal, almost as if to say “it’s crazy, but Les Bleus will actually be cheering for Italy on this one”.

Following the front page, the article continues over the next 3 pages explaining why France’s fate is closely tied to that of the Azzurri: if Italy wins Saturday, France is automatically qualified to Euro 2008. The editor’s note is actually a heart-warming message (of sorts): “We won’t go as far as defining Italy our own worst friends, but we could say that there is a good neighbourhood relationship between the two teams, in which seduction is more frequent than headbutting.” Take that Zidane.

Edit: Seems that the echoes of French cheering has even reached Clairefontaine, Les Bleus‘s training ground where the French national team will be preparing for their mid-week match against Ukraine Wednesday. Not before gathering to watch Scotland-Italy today though.

Djibril Cissé, age 26No doubt that the entire French squad will be glued to their TV screens in a couple of hours, starting with the “next Zidane” on the line, Samir Nasri: “I don’t what the others have planned, but there is no way I am missing that game“. Neither is Diarra: “I’ll watch Scotland-Italy with great attention“. Thierry Henry, will even go a step further: “It may seem strange, but we’ll all be cheering for Italy“.

Even Raymond Domenech the team coach, is hoping for an Azzurri victory, but has forbidden his players to watch Italy’s game Saturday: “I don’t want my boys to watch the match. I’d rather have them play cards or nightclubbing. I will knock out all TV stations in Clairefontaine personally if I have to“. The reason being, one can assume, is the fact that if Scotland were to win in Glasgow the entire hopes of French qualification would rest on Wednesday’s match against Ukraine, something requiring absolutely no distraction. Time to smuggle in a portable TV, boys.

Meanwhile, while the French are blowing kisses to Italy and redefining love-hate relationships in times of need, the Germans are taking a bit of a poke at the Azzurri, probably still annoyed with those that kicked out their beloved Nationalmannschafft from their 2006 home World Cup. German newspaper Bild titles “Will Luca Toni cry today?”, and “A Euro championship without the World champions? Italy would cry“. Damn you evil Germans, I’m touching wood.