Well, if that wasn't one heluva World Cup, I don't know what is.
Aside from all of the red cards for looking at the ground wrong, endless hours of Ronaldo running through the airport terrorizing weary travellers, and minute-by-minute hooligan updates, it really was an interesting tournament, made even more strange by Brazil's humiliating loss in the final to France.
That, my friends, is perhaps the most stunning story of them all. France beating the crap out of Brazil, 3-0.
It wasn't so amazing that Brazil was the defending champion, Argentina lost to Germany in 1990 after winning the whole enchilada in 1986. It was that France seemed to come from literally nowhere to become the seventh nation to win the World Cup.
If you'll remember, France did not qualify for the 1994 Cup in America and didn't have to qualify for this year's tournament since they were the home nation. So, in reality, France had not qualified for a World Cup in almost 10 years.
Before the tournament began, all bets were on Brazil. They were the champs with the world's most celebrated player, Ronaldo. However, a severe ankle injury and questions as to whether he would even start the final against the French cast a dark spell on the Brazilians. They may have been emotionally defeated before ever taking the field.
Meanwhile, the French team and the entire citizenry was already into full-tilt party mode. Jerry Lewis movies were playing in the streets. It was chaos, man.
But, the real chaos was taking place on the field. The French defense virtually cut the middle of the field down for the Brazilians. Instead of moving the ball straight to the gut getting it to Ronaldo, they had to go wide, unable to break the stranglehold in midfield.
The bald-headed airport athlete only touched the ball four times in the first half. And, with two first-half goals by the head of Zidane, the Brazilians were sunk. In retrospect, it really doesn't seem they ever had a chance to win that game, as good a team as they are.
It seemed the French were on a divine journey to ending where the base of the trophy began. They really didn't have the best talent as say the Italians, the Germans or the Brazilians. They just played like a world-class team together, only allowing two goals the entire tournament.
Meanwhile, the only other automatic qualifying team, the former champs, were giving up silly goals by lazy defensive play and were fighting with each other as early as the first game.
France will have a chance to defend their championship in 2002 in Asia. We'll find out if destiny is on their side then. For now, Viva La France!
Editor's note: For all of us who had some faith in France, we stick our perverbial tongues out at you Brazil lovers. She counts the large stack of $20's she won off of THAT game!
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