Ageism: 53 Mundial years added to my life (a day, and a game, and one more for nearly nine hours on the train to Berlin and back -- frankly, the novelty of trains has worn off)
Palllor: Tricolour (might be the last we see of Zidane on this stage, after all)
Forecast: Very hot here (and up in Gelsenkirchen, where England play Portugal)
Blog's going on holiday time for the next couple of days. Happy Canada Day to everyone back home.
Just an add to yesterday's Rating the Stadiums, now that I've been to Berlin:
Olympiastadion, Berlin. This was built for the infamous 1936 Olympics, and to get to it you walk along Jesse-Owens-Allee, where some band was cranking up a pretty rocked up, almost listenable version of Go West, surely the most all-played out of footy anthems. But back to the stadium. It's been pretty much rebuilt, first for the 1974 World Cup, then again for this one. Open at one end -- the Marathon Arch -- it's easily the most massive stadium at this competition, although its maximum capacity is less than that of Dortmund. You sort of feel swallowed up inside it, and I was sitting in a midrange area, about 10 rows up in the upper deck. Allianz Arena, which is almost as big, never feels that way. Outside the stadium are the remains of the smaller, second stadium built for the '36 Olympics -- the press centre tent was located right across the old running track from the weedy stone terraces. Around the grounds many of the old Nazi sculptures are still standing. I'm glad I'll be back here for the final -- I took the S-Bahn out to the stadium from near midtown and a friendly women with a bike was pointing out some wonderful neighbourhoods here. Overall assessment of the Olympic Stadium: A decent place to watch a game, but I'd still rate Dortmund, Munich and Kaiserslautern higher in my ratings.
That's all for today. Like I said, the blog is on long weekend.
Portugal 0, England 0 aet (Portugal wins 3-1 on penalties). Crazy game, as usual. Rooney sent off for stomping on Ricardo Carvalho's privates and shoving (very lightly) his Man United teammate Cristian Ronaldo of Portugal. Down to 10 men, Portugal can't penetrate English packed defence, so it goes to penalties, where Frank Lampard, whose had a haunted look this whole tournament, misses their first to set the tone. Simao, Postiga and finally Cristian Ronaldo with the clincher, while only Owen Hargreaves (on Canada Day, yet) can find the net for England. Portugal's into the semifinals for the first time since 1966, and only the second time ever. And England's goin' 'ome -- again.
France 1, Brazil 0. Now we have us a tournament! The favourites are gone, and a just result too. France never goes negative, Zidane rules the midfield and delivers the perfect 40-metre free kick from the left side to a mystifyingly wide-open Thierry Henry at the far post, and he volleys it into the top of the net. The French were given up for dead until the second half of their final group match with Togo. Now they look like a finalist, with a date against Portugal in the semis coming up on Wednesday in Munich.