While the Spanish press had already sent Zinedine Zidane to retirement, the Ballon d’Or 98 allowed the Blues to thwart the odds by dominating La Roja (3-1) in the round of 16 of the 2006 World Cup.
“Vamos jubilar to Zidane”. The one of brandJune 27, 2006, a few hours before the round of 16 of the World Cup between France and Spain leaves little room for doubt: the hour of retirement has come for Zinedine Zidane and with that of revenge for La Roja, for whom the Blues essentially bring back painful memories like the final of Euro 1984, the group match at Euro 1996 or the quarter-final of Euro 2000.
But this time, Spain is the big favorite of this confrontation between neighbors. While the Blues, four years after the 2002 World Cup fiasco, painfully extricated themselves from their Group G, with a meager victory against Togo for two draws against Switzerland and South Korea, Spain flew over his group with three victories against Ukraine, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia. Faced with the triumphant youth symbolized by Xavi, Fabregas or David Villa, the Blues appear out of breath.
Zidane, symbol of aging Blues
The best symbol of this aging team is none other than Zinedine Zidane, for whom the World Cup is his last ball before retirement and who could therefore play his last career match against Spain. Suspended against Togo, the native of Marseille appeared borrowed and uninspired in the first two matches against Switzerland and South Korea. So much so that Raymond Domenech had no hesitation in taking him out against the South Koreans, angering the Madrid player.
The start of the match is also to the advantage of the Spaniards. Without multiplying the chances, La Roja opened the scoring shortly before the half-hour mark thanks to a penalty converted by David Villa following a gross foul by Lilian Thuram. A goal that looks like a click for the Blues, who sound the revolt and get their hands on the meeting. A domination rewarded just before the break thanks to Franck Ribéry who, starting at the limit of offside, allows Raymond Domenech’s men to equalize.
Zidane sinks Spain
The second period is to match, France having total control of the match. The Blues must nevertheless wait until the 82nd minute to take the advantage: on a free kick taken by… Zinedine Zidane, Patrick Vieira indeed surprises the Spanish defense. On the edge of the abyss, Spain tried to react but it was the French who finally gave the coup de grace in added time through … Zinedine Zidane. Launched in depth by Sylvain Wiltord, he eliminates Carlos Puyol with a hook before shooting Iker Casillas.
Retirement will wait a few more days for Zinedine Zidane. The Spaniards are now on vacation. “It was not yet my jubilee. I want to tell the Spaniards, because they’ve given us plenty of room for it, that it’s not for this time. The adventure goes on“, launches the No. 10 tricolor at the end of the meeting.