So it's all over, and in a twisted way, justice was done. True to form, it was a dive, this time from Malouda, that earned France their one goal. I couldn't have been happier to see Matterazzi, the guy who got sent of pretty much every game he played for Everton, get the equalizer and restore parity not soon after. When Luca Toni, who clearly prayed to the wrong Gods before this tournament, had a goal rather questionably disallowed, I began to worry. Then came Zidane's moment of madness - in '98 it was a stamp, this time a headbutt - but it appeared to be too little too late for Italy. Remember that the Italians have lost on penalties in a quarter-final, semi-final and final, so a shootout wasn't expected to be their best hope.
We all had to think again - the excution of the spot kicks was as clinical and awe-inspiring as any I have ever seen. Made England's exit look even more shambolic than it already did.
Overall, this has been one of the better World Cup's in recent memory for my money. Much will be made of the lack of goals, particularly in the point-hungry American media I'm sure, but there was plenty of quality football on display. That it didn't come from the names on everyone's lips made it all the more fascinating.
Two months ago, along with most others, I'd have been preparing to put down names like Ronaldinho and Kaka in my team of the tournament. Instead, I'm plumping for (in 4-4-2 formation, despite the 4-5-1 variations that dominated the tournament):
Sagnol Cannavaro (c) Thuram Lahm
Rodriguez Pirlo Ballack Ronaldo (Cristiano)
subs: Ricardo (gk), Grosso, Marquez, Ayala, Ribery, Gattuso,
Riquelme, Ze Roberto, Vieira, Crespo, Tevez
I can safely say that from that entire list, the only players I was confident would be in contention for my squad were Buffon, Ronaldo, Ricardo, Riquelme and Gattuso.