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This blog reflects on soccer qua football all over the world. The blog has a specific investment in attractive, attacking football and, as such, focuses on Brazil, the most emphatic historical exponent of the beautiful game.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Brazil v. Germany: A Brief World Cup History

Brazil 2 - Germany 0 (Ronaldo, 66, 78)
2002 World Cup Final
June 30, 2002
Yokohama International Stadium, Yokohama, Japan

Brazil and Germany have met just once in the World Cup, namely, in the 2002 World Cup final in Yokohama, Japan. In advance of the final, many commentators characterized the match as an epic confrontation between Brazil’s Ronaldo and German goalkeeper Oliver Kahn. Ronaldo sailed into the final against Germany having scored six goals. Kahn, meanwhile, had conceded only one goal prior to the final in a group match against Ireland. The actual final turned out to be more complex than a Ronaldo-Kahn match-up.

In the first half, Germany disrupted Brazil’s free flowing football through a combination of tight marking and hard challenges. The Germans knew that Ronaldo, Rivaldo and Ronaldinho posed the principal goalscoring threats and marked them appropriately. Thomas Linke man-marked Ronaldo while Carsten Ramelow and Christoph Metzelder did well to close down space enjoyed by Rivaldo and Ronaldinho. Rivaldo and Ronaldinho played deeper than they often had in the tournament behind Ronaldo, the lone striker. Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari played Ronaldinho in a deep, attacking midfield position akin to the role currently played by Paulo Henrique Ganso for Brazil under Mano Menezes. As in the quarterfinal match against England, however, Brazil’s Kleberson emerged as the wild card that Germany failed to fully anticipate and strategize. The Brazilian midfielder carved out space to hit the cross bar in the first half and play a pivotal role in the Brazilian attack in the second half.

The early minutes of the second half witnessed two important goal scoring opportunities for Germany. Jens Jeremies directed a bullet of a header on goal that was cleared off the line by Edmilson. Moments later, Oliver Neuville whipped a swerving free kick around the Brazilian wall that seemed to be sailing into the back of the net were it not for a spectacular touch on the ball by goalkeeper Marcos. Having survived these early scares, Brazil gradually began to figure out how to penetrate the German defense by bringing defenders such as Roque Junior, Lucio and Kleberson forward to join the attack.

Ronaldo initiated the scoring in the 66th minute by scavenging to win back a ball from the German defense and passing to Rivaldo in anticipation of a give and go. Rivaldo directed a curling strike at the German goal that Kahn spilled into the path of the opportunistic Ronaldo who buried the ball in the back of the net to give Brazil a 1-0 lead. Twelve minutes later, Kleberson raced down the right flank and crossed to Rivaldo, who, seeing his partner Ronaldo behind him, dummied the ball so as to let it run through to his teammate. True to his billing as the world’s greatest striker, Ronaldo converted the chance by sending the ball low to Oliver Kahn’s left to make it 2-0 Brazil. Ronaldo’s eight tournament goals punctuated a fitting victory for Brazil who became five time World Champions with the best team they have fielded since Pele and the great team of 1970.

Starting Line-Ups:

Brazil
Marcos (GK), Lucio, Edmilson, Roque Junior, Roberto Carlos, Cafu, Kleberson, Gilberto Silva, Ronaldinho, Rivaldo, Ronaldo

Germany
Kahn (GK), Linke, Ramelow, Metzelder, Frings, Schneider, Jeremies, Hamann, Bode, Neuville, Klose

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