Italy vs. France, Final, July 9
By Chris Harris
Take a deep breath. The World Cup final is finally upon us after a month packed with 63 momentous matches and millions of songs on our MP3 players later.
Today's encounter features two of Europe's traditional soccer superpowers in Italy and France.
The Italians would love nothing more than to avenge the crushing loss to the French at the Euro 2000 final, while Zinedine Zidane and company would relish an opportunity to hoist the world's greatest sporting prize for the second time in eight years.
Pull up a seat next to a billion other people or so and get prepared for a potential classic.
Also be sure to visit Your View to tell us your thoughts on today's big match. Who will win? Who will seize the spotlight? What made the difference in the 2006 World Cup final?
Game overThanks again for joining us for our World Cup game blogs on CBC.ca. It's been a pleasure.
So, soccer fans. What do we all do now that the footie games have finished? Well, we don't have to wait long before most of these players return to the pitch with their various domestic leagues. Also - get this - Euro 2008 qualifying kicks off next month. Mark your calendar: Italy meets France on September 6th.
For now, get your soccer fix by visiting Your View to share your thoughts about today's thrilling final. There's so much to talk about it. Also check out our World Cup site for full game coverage, including a photo gallery will all the action in pictures from Berlin.
Game overThe Italian players jog around the field, passing the golden trophy between players. More streamers fly. Now there's a full-on fireworks display. FIFA really spares no expense when it comes to the final celebrations.
Game overCaptain Fabio Cannavaro, likely the player of the tournament, finally gets to hold up the World Cup trophy. Massive cheers from the crowd and blasts of confetti rain down on the jubilant Italians. The celebrations continue.
Game overNow it's Italy's turn to collect their gold medals. Gennaro Gattuso is fondling the World Cup trophy like a fine bottle of wine. Now all of the players are in on the action, kissing and touching the trophy. They haven't been given the OK to hoist it up just yet.
Game overA sad-looking bunch of French players collect their second-place silver medals. Still an accomplishment to be proud of, but it probably stings quite a bit tonight.
Game overCredit to France for an excellent - and surprising - run to the final. They were written off by most of the pundits after shaky draws with the Swiss and South Korea. But they stormed back to defeat top teams like Spain, Brazil and Portugal and were a deserved final.
But what a shame about Zidane. What was he thinking with that head butt? Should be an interesting post-game media conference.
Game overScenes of celebration for the Italian players, management and fans. Despair for France. The Italian players are making their way around the track surrounding the field to party it up and give the thumbs-up symbol to their fans. Camera flashes are flickering through the stadium. Regal music blasts through the sound system.
This is a proud moment for Italy, especially with all that's gone on with the domestic league scandal this season.
Game overThis World Cup is the fourth title for Italy and the first since 1982.
Penalty shootoutItaly 5 France 3. Italy wins the World Cup! Fabio Grosso converts the winning penalty shot and the Italians win a dramatic final.
Penalty shootoutItaly 4 France 3. Willy Sagnol keeps the French alive with a strong penalty into the back of the net.
Penalty shootoutItaly 4 France 2. Alessandro Del Piero puts the French against the ropes. They need to score and make a save. The pressure is all on the French.
Penalty shootoutItaly 3 France 2. Eric Abidal keeps France alive, as Buffon guesses incorrectly.
Penalty shootoutItaly 3 France 1. Daniele De Rossi extends the Italian lead with a high strike into the net. An unstoppable penalty.
Penalty shootoutItaly 2 France 1. Advantage Italy! David Trezeguet strikes the crossbar and the Italians are in the driver's seat.
Penalty shootoutItaly 2 France 1. Marco Materazzi goes to the right side with a powerful strike to give Italy the lead.
Penalty shootoutItaly 1 France 1. Sylvain Wiltord evens things up with a crisp penalty low in the corner of the net.
Penalty shootoutItaly 1 France 0. Andrea Pirlo strikes first for Italy, calmly putting the ball high and centre in the net.
Penalty shootoutBarthez and Buffon embrace and share some kind words before the shootout begins. A nice sportsmanlike gesture.
End of extra timeI want to apologize in advance for any typos that may fly off this keyboard in the coming minutes. I'm shaking. I'm nervous. And I'm neutral! I can only imagine how French and Italian supporters feel right now. This is tense stuff.
End of extra timeThe 2006 World Cup will be decided by a penalty shootout. The focus now shifts to the two keepers - Italy's Gianluigi Buffon and France's Fabien Barthez.
30th minute (extra time 2)There should be a bit of time added due to the Zidane incident. Speaking of the Zidane incident, please go have your say on this play at Your View.
28th minute (extra time 2)Both teams are starting to look visibly tired after two hours of intense soccer. Only a couple minutes away from a penalty shootout.
26th minute (extra time 2)France likely now just wants to hold on and roll the dice in penalties. But remember - no Thierry Henry and no Zinedine Zidane. This final has had a bit of everything.
23rd minute (extra time 2)The ref didn't appear to see the Zidane head butt, but he produced the red card after deliberating with his sideline assistant. This event will be much talked about after the game. It has drastically altered the complexion of this match.
19th minute (extra time 2)Wow! A red card for Zidane! He head-butted Marco Materazzi in the chest after the two players chatted back and forth for a bit. What a strange end to Zidane's career.
It was a certain red-card offence, but Materazzi helped with a dramatic fall. A shocking development.
17th minute (extra time 2)A surprising substitution. Thierry Henry is taken off in favour of Sylvain Wiltord. Henry likely would've been one of France's penalty takers, should this game get there. Strange.
16th minute (extra time 2)Play is back underway after a quick water break. What, no oranges? Those guys don't know how much they're missing out.
End of extra time 1Only 15 minutes to play. We're still headed for a penalty shootout unless someone can snap this deadlock.
14th minute (extra time 1)Wow. Buffon must be listening. He just made an amazing stop off a Zidane header, punching the ball high and out. The stop of the match and a real game-saver.
13th minute (extra time 1)Gianluigi Buffon looks so steady in the Italian goal. The Juventus keeper is as good as they come.
11th minute (extra time 1)A point to remember. It was Trezeguet who scored the golden goal against Italy in the Euro 2000 final. He hasn't seen much time in this World Cup, but he knows how to find the net. Can he repeat history?
9th minute (extra time 1)Franck Ribery gets the first quality scoring chance of the extra session booting a strike just wide of the Italian goal. It's actually his final touch of the match, as he's replaced by Juventus man David Trezeguet.
7th minute (extra time 1)France is enjoying most of the extra-time possession thus far, but the stacked Italian defence has been up to the task, snuffing out all challenges.
5th minute (extra time 1)It's Malouda again for France, dashing into the box on another quality run. He tumbles to the ground after tangling with Gennaro Gattuso, but it's not a penalty.
3rd minute (extra time 1)A persistent Florent Malouda earns a corner with a quality one-man effort. But nothing comes of Zidane's corner.
Malouda has been impressive today, outshining many of his French teammates.
1st minute (extra time 1)The game is back on. With so much at stake, it's a tense atmosphere. No lineup changes to report.
End of regular timeAnd the ref blows his whistle. These teams will play 30 more minutes to decide the World Cup title.
A reminder about how things work here. The sudden-death golden goal is a thing of the past. The teams now play two full 15-minute sessions, even if any goals are scored. If the match remains tied after the bonus 30 minutes, we go to penalty kicks.
89th minuteExtra time looms. This game is headed for 30 more minutes unless something dramatic happens pronto.
86th minuteAlessandro Del Piero has entered the game for Italy, replacing Mauro Camoranesi. Does Del Piero have a little magic in his boots today?
84th minuteItaly is flooding the defensive penalty area with blue shirts. Everyone is in full on defensive mode except striker Luca Toni. The French continue to press, but Italy's defence remains oh so suffocating.
82nd minuteZidane will play on. He's back on the field.
80th minuteZidane is on the ground after a mid-air collision with Italian captain Fabio Cannavaro. It appears Zidane has hurt his shoulder, but it'll take much more than that for Zidane to exit this one.
77th minuteAlou Diarra gets a yellow card for complaining to the ref after knocking down Luca Toni. Free kick to Italy. And it's a dangerous one. Andrea Pirlo blasts the ball just wide of the French goal. That was a close one.
75th minuteFrance earns a free kick deep in Italian territory after a careless tackle by Mauro Camoranesi. Zidane's free kick whizzes through the area without anyone getting a head on it. Goal kick.
70th minuteThings are settling down again and we're only about 20 minutes or so from extra time. Still lots of soccer to be played, though.
67th minuteWith Totti out of the game, fans around the world are now deprived of the potential to see the weakest goal celebration in the game. Sucking your thumb? Come on, guy.
63rd minuteItaly comes oh so close to taking the lead, as Luca Toni blasts a shot into the French goal. The Italian fans and players celebrate - but only briefly. The play is called offside. No goal.
60th minuteItaly appears shaky in this half. France is enjoying the majority of the posession and is really pressing. Coach Marcello Lippi looks like he wants to do something about it. He's making a double switch. Daniele De Rossi and Vinvenzo Iaquinta are on for Francesco Totti and Simone Perrotta.
57th minutePatrick Vieria is hurt. It doesn't look too serious, but the skilled Juventus midfielder still needs to leave the field. Alou Diarra comes on to replace him for the match's first substitution. This is a potential blow to the French.
55th minuteFlorent Malouda goes down in the penalty area on a challenge from Gianluca Zambrotta. It appears Zambrotta made a tad more contact with Malouda than on the penalty call earlier in the game, but the ref keeps the whistle and cards in his pocket. Play on.
52nd minuteHenry gets another decent chance, splitting the Italian defence but his cross through the box is kicked out for a corner. France can't convert on the ensuing Zidane corner.
The momentum is back with the French in the early going of this half.
47th minuteThierry Henry gets a quick shot on goal in the first minute of the second half. It's easily handled by Italian keeper Gianluigi Buffon, who continues his remarkable World Cup run.
Full credit to Henry for the effort. He took a slight bump from Fabio Cannavaro, but stayed on his feet to take the shot. Great to see a player who doesn't feel the need to drop to ground in the box at the mere presence of a defender.
46th minuteThe players have returned to the field for the second half. No substitutions to report on either side. The game is back on.
HalftimeWith a break in the action, now would be an opportune time to share your thoughts on today's final at Your View. There are so many talking points to choose from. Get in there and have your say!
HalftimeThe teams head to their respective dressing rooms with the game knotted at 1-1. This final remains out there for the taking for either of these teams.
44th minuteFrance is having a hard time getting anything going offensively. Anytime they get close to the Italian goal, the suffocating Azzurri defence shuts them down in greater numbers. Franck Ribery is the latest French attacker to get the Italian job treament.
40th minuteThis is entertaining soccer. It's one of those rare championship matches that is actually living up to the pre-game hype. We're almost at the half and there have been plenty 'o thrills in the opening 40 minutes.
This is the type of game that could convert many a North American to the beautiful game.
35th minuteLuca Toni just missed out on two glorious scoring chances. The Italian striker was left in the clear, but France's Lilian Thuram races back to clear the ball with a sensational sliding tackle. Toni comes close again on the ensuing corner, rattling a header off the crossbar. Italy is pressing.
32nd minuteSimone Perrotta tumbles to the ground and there's a great slow-motion shot of the Italian medical staff applying a steady spray from a water bottle. Must be some sort of magic healing liquid as it will likely be only a matter of moments before Perrotta returns to the field like new.
28th minuteMaterazzi and Pirlo almost connect on another dangerous corner, but Barthez makes the stop and Materazzi is called for a push. The French defence are really going to have to watch those set pieces. Materazzi is getting Vince Carter out there.
27th minuteBoth teams have only taken one shot on goal apiece and both balls went into the net. But here's where the two teams differ - Italy has enjoyed 63 per cent of the ball possession thus far.
24th minuteWith so much to talk about in this game, be sure to speak out at Your View. What do you think of the penalty call? What are your thoughts on what we've seen so far? How will this end?
19th minuteGOOOOOAAAAALLLLLL! France 1 Italy 1. Italy is even. Marco Materazzi heads in an Andrea Pirlo corner kick to level the score. What redemption for Materazzi, who was called for the contact that set up the first French goal.
The tall central defender was able to elevate above the Italian defence and put in a beautiful header past sprawling French keeper Fabien Barthez. Credit to Pirlo, as well, for a perfectly placed cross.
17th minuteFrom a neutral point of view, the early goal has increased the entertainment value big time. Italy must attack. France must defend.
15th minuteItaly appears to have collected themselves. They're starting to press, earning a free kick and a corner, and they have settled in after a difficult opening 10 minutes.
9th minutePlenty of debating points already. The penalty call could've gone either way. Marco Materazzi didn't appear to have too much contact with Malouda, but the ref felt it was enough for a penalty to be awarded.
And did Zidane's penalty cross the line? Looked like it did, but it would be great to see another replay. What a nightmare start for Italy.
7th minuteGOOOOOAAAAALLLLLL! France 1 Italy 0. Zidane scores on a strange penalty. The ball hits the crossbar before barely falling over the goal line and bouncing out. The French have the lead on a wacky start to the contest.
7th minutePenalty! Florent Malouda is hauled down in the box and Zidane is going to the penalty spot.
4th minuteHenry is back on the field after taking a giant whiff of the 'ol smelling salts. We're back to 11-on-11.
2nd minuteStrange start to the match. Star French striker Thierry Henry collides with Italian defender Fabio Cannavaro and falls heavily to the field. It looks like it may have been an accidental clash of heads. Henry looks very groggy before walking off the field under his own steam. Tense moments for the French.
1st minuteGame on! Now, to borrow a phrase from legendary hockey announcer Bob Cole, "oh my nerves."
3 minutes to kickoffThere's an electric atmosphere in Berlin. Boisterous chanting from supporters on both sides and, of course, blue shirts fill the stadium.
7 minutes to kickoffThe players are taking the field. The Italian players are sporting their blue jerseys, while Les Bleus are in white. You confused yet, too? Anthem time.
10 minutes to kickoffLet the hype begin! Pre-game festivities are well underway in Berlin. Shakira commands the stage, shaking hips and all, in a duet with Wyclef Jean. Like the IOC, FIFA loves to ramp up the pomp and pageantry during big events.
15 minutes to kickoffInteresting story in the New York Times sports section today. There's a story, citing anonymous sources involved in soccer in the New York area, suggesting there's a possibility French hero Zinedine Zidane could join New York Red Bulls of Major League Soccer.
Zidane, 34, is slated to retire from both international and club soccer after today's final. He's no longer under contract to any team. But who knows? There may or may no be anything to this MLS talk. But with Toronto FC set to debut next season, it certainly would be intriguing to get a player with the star power and skill of Zidane in MLS.
20 minutes to kickoffWe're in for a treat if this game is anything close to the 2000 Euro final thriller. For those not familiar with that classic contest, it was a wild one. Italy was less than a minute away from winning the European championship when France mustered an equalizer. David Trezeguet then gave France the title with a top-notch golden goal.
We can only hope for such a final today.