France 98: When Michael Owen was Pele, and Zidane had hair – FourFourTwo’s Inside Track – FourFourTwo


Everything included, probably the best tournament I’ve seen.

France 98: When Michael Owen was Pele, and Zidane had hair – FourFourTwo’s Inside Track – FourFourTwo.

I was very young in 1986, and the entire tournament has a magical feeling to it. I had just started playing football, and just started liking the game. And let me be honest, my memory of the ’86 world cup is almost entirely clouded by that magical Diego goal, and the best world-cup football final I have yet seen.

1998 was different. This was a really great tournament. Everything about it was almost perfect. And this also saw the almost inevitable clash of the two greatest footballers of that generation, Ronaldo and Zidane. Ronaldo was incredible right through the tournament, and just fizzled in the finals. His redemption wold come in Japan and Korea, four years later. And while we see this as Zidane’s tournament, he was injured for a great part of the tournament, only being influential in the latter part of the tournament.

France had an incredible defence-line. Blanc and Desailly as the half-backs, Lizarazu and Thuram as full backs; Deschamps as the defensive midfielder and Petit as the ball-winner. That’s what won them match after match.

Brazil? They had Ronaldo. That was really enough. And Rivaldo. And Bebeto, now a shadow of the player four years ago.  And I sincerely believe that if Ronaldo were to be fit for the finals, they would have won. Nothing could stop Ronaldo in his pomp; not even the greatest defence ever assembled.

Other memories of the tournament:  THAT goal by Bergkamp! And while Ronaldo vs Zidane is what people remember this world cup by, Bergkamp vs Batistuta was equally captivating in my opinion. England? Owen, OWEN, OWEEEEEEEENNNNN! And of course Beckham’s red card. Nigeria — oh what a team they had! Jay Jay Okocha, Sunday Oliseh, Finidi George, Taribo West et al! Remember Salas and Zamorano? Croatia’s (or Davor Suker’s) demolition of Germany? Christian Vieri and his goalscoring? Brazil’s almost unbelievable loss to Norway (did they throw the match? — poor, poor Morocco)? Chilavert? The Blanco hop? USA vs Iran? Mehdi Mahdvikia?

Oh what great memories! Great, great tournament.

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One thought on “France 98: When Michael Owen was Pele, and Zidane had hair – FourFourTwo’s Inside Track – FourFourTwo

  1. The fluid French delighted with their elegant and potent attacking soccer throughout the tournament. Led by the offensive creativity of the “Three Musketeers” — Michel Platini, Alain Giresse and Jean Tigana — they were almost unstoppable in the opening round. And then they met the Kuwaitis, who unleashed a novel strategy to prevent them from scoring. Sheikh Fahad Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, president of the Kuwait Football Association, left his seat and stormed the field, removing his players in protest of a French goal that he believed had been scored only after his players had heard a whistle blown from the stands and stopped playing. The match official, Ukrainian Miroslav Stupar, wilted in the spotlight and reversed his original decision, disallowing the goal, the only time a World Cup decision was vetoed by a member of the crowd. The French still won 4-1.

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