Hello! Welcome to the final update of the CM9798 World Cup. It’s been quite the three weeks, but I am pleased to say the tournament has been mostly a success. I’ll probably get all soppy at the end but in case you don’t make it that far – thank you for giving this whole thing the time of day. Let’s hand out some rosettes.
3rd/4th Place Playoff
I’ve never been happier to have a 3rd/4th place playoff match. A one match update would have been a much shorter affair. It also gives Gilles De Bilde the chance to win the golden boot outright. Nobody wants to share a boot. I’ll make this gag one more time then I’m done – the good thing about this year’s World Cup is that they have agreed that the two losing semi finalists will have to join host Euro 2000. It’s Holland vs Belgium everybody!
Ash Rose is in charge of Holland as you will of course know by now. They ran out of steam somewhat against a rampant host nation but won’t want to lose to neighbours Belgium. With 3rd place on the line, Ash is able to recall Michael Reiziger who served a suspension for the semi final, but has lost the services of Bergkamp who is now serving the same punishment. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink is in for him.
Adam Turner’s Belgium side have been a breath of fresh air, though I do have a strong feeling of hatred for him eliminating my Scotland side. Never mind. He’s opted to change it up again, moving to a 4-2-3-1 with De Bilde looking to add to the 7 goals he has already netted this tournament, including two hat-tricks in the group stages.
Oh yes it’s on video. Normal words are below.
As you’d expect this is quite an open fixture with nothing really to defend. 3rd or 4th…nobody really cares. Gilles De Bilde cares an opens the scoring. He really can fix it. Holland miss a few chances where the commentary is all “he must score” and such like but they don’t.
As you’d expect there’s better ratings on the Belgian side. It still could all change.
This is basically just a warm up for the final. The final is coming I promise. Anyway, Holland rally and score twice in the space of 3 minutes, firstly Overmars equalises then with Belgium reeling Jimmy smashes in a rebound. What drama here. Michel Preud’homme is not as good as Bodart, is my assessment. It finishes 2-1. Holland are third! Get the bronze medals!
A fairly tight game, Belgium didn’t really look in much trouble then Holland snatched it away in a great 3 minute spell.
Always weird when a defender from the opposition gets man of the match but that’s where we are now. A nice open game to warm us up for the final. Thanks to Ash and Adam for their participation, but now there are only two…
World Cup Final – France vs Italy
So here we are then. It all boils down to this. The tournament that started out with me buying 16 kinder eggs and conducting a draw culminates in France hosting Italy. 17 blog posts, well over 20,000 words plus two preview blogs, 16 hopeful humans have become two. It’s @90sfootball vs @fplhints!
France have spread the goals out a bit but top scorer Trezeguet is suspended. Other top scorer Papin is recalled in the only change, as the diamon is retained. Yes, diamonds are forever.
@FPLhints or the Tinkerman as he has become known has meticulously plotted Italy’s route to the final. No stone has been left unturned and in Ravanelli the Chief has found the perfect partner for Roberto Baggio. Baggio has 5 assists, an impressive number, whilst Ravanelli has 7 goals and requires two here to grab a share of the golden boot. A big ask, but the stage is set. Maldini continues in defensive midfield in the absence of Tacchinardi, an issue Michael Marden flagged up in his preview, you may recall. He’s a wise man.
For the final time, the video is below, or you can scroll past it for the text coverage.
France come out on all cylinders in front of a buoyant home crowd. Karembeu hits the bar and it’s a surprisingly open match, but once Italy whether the storm they get a foothold in the match and it’s not long before Ravanelli is wheeling away with his shirt over his head. His 7th of the tournament puts him one behind De Bilde. Chief knows which way his bread is buttered and immediately moves to a back 5. There’s 77,000 in the stadium and most of them are French fans, but there are some worried faces as half time arrives.
It’s a pretty even game but Italy have managed to take one of their chances.
Deschamps and Di Matteo doing their best to dominate the midfield and it’s always odd to see a goalscorer on less than a 7. Paddy has seen enough. Djorkaeff is on, Thuram is off. If Italy are going all out defence then France are going all out attack. It’s brave.
It’s a time to be brave. Six minutes into the second half and France are level! Djorkaeff makes an instant impact and Paddy is lauded as a managerial genius. For 3 minutes. The celebrations have barely died down when Roberto Baggio puts Italy back in front. Would you believe it? The man who missed the decisive penalty at World Cup 94 has put Italy in front in the final. You couldn’t write this.
France are trying to find a way back and Deschamps is off and Maurice is on. They are ripe for a counter attack and sure enough on 83 minutes Ravanelli gets the chance to seal it and he does, securing the golden boot in the process. France slump everywhere. Gilles De Bilde puts his head in his hands. It’s a cruel game.
This was a very enjoyable final, fairly open and thankfully not drab like the 2010 or 2014 finals which…haven’t happened yet. France fall just short of emulating their real life win, whilst Italy gain some revenge for the penalty shootout defeat they suffered in the quarter finals. It’s complicated comparing in game events to real life so I’ll stop.
Deschamps takes man of the match for marshalling the midfield before beign sacrificed for the final 20 minutes, which isn’t surprising. Deschamps of course will lead France this summer, which wraps everything up in a neat little package.
@FPLhints/@CM_hints takes home the trophy – there is a trophy, it just hasn’t arrived yet. Look out on Twitter for that. But what a thoroughly enjoyable final, in some ways, everyone is a winner. But in another, more accurate way, Italy are the winners.
I’ll sign off with a few thank you messages. There’s a lot of planning gone into this and I have to thank the 15 lads who gave up their time to pick and manage these teams, putting up with my constant badgering as I desperately tried to get this done to schedule. We have managed and you’ve made a stupid man very happy. So thank you for that.
To Tom and Michael for the brilliant preview pieces, again I am indebted to you both and on the off chance I can ever do anything for either of you please do let me know. I’m also grateful to my good friend Paul for tweeting several posts for me as I nipped off for a holiday mid-tournament, again done out of generosity which I only hope I can replicate for you one day.
Finally, to you, yes YOU reading this now. I don’t get too hung up on views and that sort of thing as you can drive yourself mad but the blog has had record numbers of views over the past 3 weeks and it’s down to all of you reading, re-tweeting, telling your friends – it goes a long way and is enormously gratifying for me as a blogger to see anybody interested in the words I spew onto this page. Thank you all.
The BBC’s World Cup 98 coverage ended with the below. I was going to mash together a load of CM9798 match footage and swap the audio onto it which would have been given me a titter for about a minute, but it would have taken several hours to create due to my drastic lack of skills. So just imagine it.
The blog is taking a break now until after the World Cup. I’ve got loads planned for the new season – guest bloggers old and new, another season (at least) with Waregem before moving on to a new save and all sorts of stuff with other versions of CM. Have a wonderful summer, enjoy the World Cup.