This is the game I like. Sweet soccer. 1-1 at the half.
France looks pretty damn good. Spain got its goal on a penalty kick where the penalty could have been called either way. Other than this, the underrated French defense is effectively closing down the Spanish attack, while the French have been stretching out the Spanish defense. The French goal came from Ribery on a nice (that is, sweet) feed by Vieira. If I had to put money on it, I'd place bets on Les Bleus at this point. They look better than Spain.
If you're not watching, you should be....
Ghana vs. Brazil this morning was fine. Ghana played a better match. Brazil won 3-0. Strange soccer. Ronaldo broke the record for most ever World Cup goals. Honestly, I still think he's overrated. If you stand there and have those other Brazilian players backing you up, you wait, take a few steps, and shoot. That has always been Ronaldo's game.
UPDATE (5pm), Gloating Edition:
Doo, doo, doo, la, la, la.... What was it that Helmut said yesterday?
"Spain looks great, and it's good to see this. France, however, is coming around. Few people - anecdotally speaking - have been talking about France at all except to say that they're old and look inept. This could be the match that shows how dangerous it is to underestimate an opponent. Remember, player by player, there's no other team in the World Cup apart from perhaps Brazil with the world class caliber of the French - Henry, Trezeguet, Zidane, Vieira, Thuram, Sagnol, Makalele, etc. If they can pull it together as a team... ouch."
They pulled it together today. 3-1, France over Spain. Yes, Henry took a dive and that set up the second goal off of a Vieira header. I'm not proud of that. But there's a big difference between the relatively dive-free teams of France and Spain playing this afternoon and watching a team that dives first and decides to play soccer second like Italy.
The other two goals were a neat feed to Ribery and a terrific touch-pass by Wiltord to Zidane in injury time, who brought it down against one defender, lost him, then slotted across his body to the opposite side of the Spanish goalie's lunge.
Spain held possession much of the game and created some chances. But those chances seldom came by breaking down the French defense. The Spanish defense held well too, but allowed Ribery to get behind them and gave up the third goal while pushing ahead late in the game trying to tie it and leaving their defense exposed. Despite the possession, the game was very close. Nice possessions on both sides, great defense overall, lots of good attacking, and fluid play in the middle. Even the fouls were relatively clean, including the three (I believe) yellow cards.
So, France will now face Brazil. I'm wary of pushing my luck on how far the French can go, but, again, Brazil should not underestimate them. Brazil, after all, was outplayed today by Ghana, despite their victory. Two of the Brazilian goals came on Ghana's poor execution of an offsides trap, which is what Ronaldo loves (because he can stand there digesting his lunch until the ball comes to him). France will not make that mistake because they don't play that kind of game.