Four weeks ago, I would laugh in your face if you said to me that the last four would be Germany, Portugal, France and Italy. Okay, okay, Germany wasn't such a shocker since host nations usually get the luck (by "luck" I also mean much help from the refs) to reach the semis, but Portugal, France and Italy?
Portugal isn't exactly the top five amongst the world's best footballers. France's display was close to pathetic in the opening matches. As for Italy, not only did they gift an own goal to the United States, they needed to fake a fall to win over Australia for crying out loud!
Having said that, they got their act together, started to get serious and taught a young Germany side a lesson they will never forget: that not only confidence but experience will get you through. And most importantly, the Azzurri did it in style.
As for the French, the start of their World Cup'06 campaign looked like they weren't thirsty enough to end their years of goal draught. Each and every match after, however, sucked less and less, and slowly but surely they pushed themselves to the quarters. But not even five-time and defending champs Brazil could stop them. And in the semis, Les Bleus persevered and stopped history from repeating itself when they overcame a vicious Portuguese side.
As much as I hate to admit it, as with many of Chelsea's succesful games, Claude Makalele played a vital part in keeping France's World Cup'06 hopes alive. And especially Zinedine Zidane, who's nothing short of inspiring. Despite the poor start to his final competitive season, the soon-to-be footballing legend rose to the occasion just in time to lead his compatriots to the finals.
I don't know about you, but I'd say our hearts are in for a great workout tonight when the two Big Blues clash.
May the best team win.