Remembering 2002’s Final: World Cup’s only other meeting between Brazil, Germany (highlights, full game video)

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Ahead of each 2014 World Cup semifinal, ProSoccerTalk will look back at the history of each matchup, looking at the teams’ previous finals meetings and why results were (or, weren’t) memorable. The rub, though: Whereas Argentina and the Netherlands have had a number of important World Cup meetings, Brazil and Germany have only met once.

I know, right? What are the odds? Two of the most successful teams in international soccer history, and they’ve only had one (albeit memorable) World Cup meeting. The probability behind that has got to be staggering, given these teams almost always make the final eight. Regardless, here’s a quick look back at that 2002 final:

Japan-South Korea 2002: Germany vs. Brazil

Maybe it’s the timezone. Perhaps it was the soccer, with a bunch of players seemingly exhausted by their’ European seasons struggling with a tournament scheduled earlier than usual.

Whatever the reason, the 2002 World Cup has become the forgotten finals. Whereas 1998 is remembered from the rise of France and 2006’s history was assured by Zinedine Zidane’s head-butt, 2002’s claim to fame is its geography. “That was the Asia one, right?”

Right, but it was also the one that featured two of the most surprising semifinalists the recent history: South Korea and Turkey. Teams from the five major confederations made the quarterfinals. Just like with the United States in 1994, another area of the world showcased itself as a hotbed for the game’s growth.

As if to celebrate that showcase, Japan-South Korea’s final produced a matchup of the game’s two more successful countries. With four World Cup titles, Brazil entered the June 30 championship game looking to distance themselves from Germany, who were tied with the Selecao for the most final appearances. In front of 69,029 in Yokohama, die Nationalmannschaft had a chance to equal Brazil’s record, potentially separating themselves from three-time winners Italy in the process.

The opening was promising, with Germany’s possession helping the team hold most of the ball over the first quarter-hour. But the game soon descended into a staid midfield battle, one that accentuated the absence of Michael Ballack. An eventual captain for this country, the 25-year-old Ballack had scored Germany’s winning goals against the United States (quarterfinals) and South Korea (semifinals). Having picked up a yellow card in the semifinals, though, Ballack was sidelined for the final, left to see Oliver Kahn continuously punt the ball beyond the Brazilian midfield.

The tactic got the Germans to halftime even. Despite two chances for Ronaldo and another for Kléberson, Brazil was kept off the scoresheet, with star attacking midfielder Rivaldo having gone conspicuously absent over the game’s first 45 minutes.

Had his absence persisted, Germany may have been able to lock down the middle, implicitly betting Ronaldinho alone wouldn’t be enough to get the Selecao over the top. But when Rivaldo showed up for the second half, the Germans were sunk.

In the 67th minute, a Rivaldo blast from distance saw Oliver Kahn spill the rebound in front of goal. Cleaning up for 12th career World Cup goal, Ronaldo moves Brazil one step closer to its fifth world title.

Twelve minutes later, Ronaldo had the winner. Off a ball sent across the penalty box by Kléberson, Ronaldo finishes into the bottom-right corner, but only after a dummy from Rivaldo drew attention away from Brazil’s eventual record-setter. Whereas Germany entered the final half-hour on even footing, Brazil was up 2-0 with 11 minutes to go.

The goals:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2KyPphE9uu4]

For Ronaldo, it was a performance that helped cemented his legacy, particularly after questions surrounded his health and performance in the 1998 final. For Brazil, the country’s fifth title meant no more comparisons to other nations. There was only one king of the soccer world, and it was the Selecao.

Had the match taken place in Europe or South America, those details may not seem so distant. While the names in Brazil’s squad mean the 2002 team will always be remembered as a classic side, the title game (and the tournament, itself) is a victim of a geographical bias. Because of our fun with timezones, tomorrow’s semifinal will likely become more remembered than the title-decider that came before.

But when the teams take the field in Belo Horizonte, they’ll be building on the legacy of 2002, one which remains the only World Cup meeting between two storied soccer cultures.

Final: Brazil 2, Germany 0

Goals: Ronaldo 67′, 79′

Lineups:

Germany: Kahn; Linke, Ramelow, Metzelder; Frings, Hammann, Jeremies, Bode; Schneider; Klose, Neuville

Brazil: Marcos, Lúcio, Edmílson, Roque Júnior; Cafu, Gilberto Silva, Kléberson; Roberto Carlos; Ronaldinho, Rivaldo, Ronaldo

Full Game:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EpngdStzhmQ]

 

Championship Focus: Bluebirds flying, Villa second-last

Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images
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The wild 46-game slate that is the Football League Championship is already howling, with all 24 teams three matches deep into their campaigns toward Premier League promotion (or avoiding relegation to League One).

The three clubs relegated from the Premier League last season all sit within the Top 8 after three match days. Sunderland is unbeaten with a win and two draws, while Hull City is 1-1-1.

[ MORE: Barcelona falls to Real… again ]

Middlesbrough has two wins from three matches, three points behind three sides who’ve started a perfect 3-0.

Wolves and Ipswich Town are two of the three, and Cardiff City leads the way. Owner Vincent Tan has seen his club score six goals without conceding once in defeats of Burton Albion, Aston Villa, and Sheffield United.

Burton is 0-3, while Steve Bruce‘s Villa is just one point better and sits 23rd.

As for individual superlatives, Bristol City’s Bobby Reid has four goals to lead the league while familiar names Lewis Grabban (Sunderland) and Abel Hernandez (Hull City) are among a quartet of players to score thrice.

Meanwhile, PL transfer target Jota of Brentford continues to impress with three assists through three matches. Will he remain in the second tier by the close of the transfer window?

MLS Snapshot: Montreal Impact 3-0 Chicago Fire

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The game in 100 words (or less)Ignacio Piatti is very good at soccer, and Chicago backstop Matt Lampson is going to see him deep into his dreams. Piatti beat Lampson up close on a turnover and then, with Montreal ahead 2-0 off a PK, the Argentine curled a surprise shot from distance around the keeper. Game, set, match, and it wasn’t even halftime. The loss keeps Chicago from using its match-in-hand to catch second place New York City FC, while the three points move Montreal to within two points of the East’s final playoff position.

Three moments that mattered

6′ — Piatti starts the party — Gifted a chance with the keeper by a sloppy missed clearing attempt, the Argentine deftly pops the ball over Fire keeper Matt Lampson.

36′ — Lampson hurts his cause — Chicago’s backstop wasn’t at fault on the opening goal, but he was for the second. After chopping down Matteo Mancosu in the box, Lampson guessed wrong on the striker’s penalty kick and the Fire went down 2-0.

38′ — It’s not your night, Lamps — Pretty sure you can anyone named Lampson, Lamps. Anyway, this time it was one of MLS’ top newcomers who set up Piatti for a goal. “Nacho” has his 12th of the season thanks to Blerim Dzemaili, and my goodness did Piatti do well here.

Man of the Match: Piatti.

Forbes ranks the top supporters in Major League Soccer

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Forbes claims the shared honor will give two Cascadia Cup rivals one less thing to argue about, but we completely disagree.

The celebrated magazine says their metrics show the Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders tied for the honor of who has the best fans in Major League Soccer.

The post says the determination was made through four factors: attendance, local TV ratings, merchandise sales, and social media followers on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Attendance was weighted heaviest, which certainly gives Atlanta United hope to go charging up the rankings in the future. For now, the “Five Stripes” are not included in the list.

The Galaxy finish third in the rankings, while the sixth-place New York Red Bulls edge New York City FC by one spot.

For the report and full explanation, head here.

Europa League preview: Everton, Milan, Marseille take next steps

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The UEFA Europa League playoff round takes full flight Thursday, a day after Utrecht struck a blow for the Eredivisie with a 1-0 win over Zenit Saint-Petersburg in a Wednesday first leg.

Premier League participants Everton will be seeking a result at home against Hajduk Split, the third-place team from Croatia’s top flight.

Gylfi Sigurdsson passed his medical at Goodison Park but will not be available for Everton on Thursday.

[ MORE: Barcelona falls to Real… again ]

As for the match, manager Ronald Koeman knows the Thursday matchdays for the UEL will try his club’s endurance and depth. From EvertonFC.com:

“We know English teams have some problems. I think it is more mental than physical because if you play in the Champions League – so Wednesday and Saturday – you have the same amount of days to recover. I try to put out the strongest team to start the game. That will take into account the tactical aspects of each game. That will mean different players start and different options in terms of substitutions.”

Captained by Zoran Nizic and managed by Joan Carrillo, Hajduk has a young star in the making in the form of 19-year-old attacking midfielder Nikola Vlasic, but Everton is heavily favored at home with Hajduk given 12:1 odds by bookmakers.

[ MORE: Barca GM says Coutinho, Dembele “close” ]

Those numbers are a relative sure thing compared to AC Milan’s visitors. Macedonia club Shkendija are a 33:1 underdog for its trip to Italy.

Elsewhere, Slovenian side Domzale is a longshot at home to visiting Marseille.

Speaking of bookmakers, Arsenal won’t enter the competition until the group stage but is considered the favorite to win the UEL by a hair over Milan. Everton, Villarreal, and Athletic Bilbao are level with third-best odds.

UEFA Europa League playoff first legs
Utrecht 1-0 Zenit — Weds.
BATE Borisov vs. Oleksandriya — 1 p.m. ET Thursday
Apollon Limassol vs. Midtjylland — 1 p.m.
Krasnodar vs. Red Star Belgrade — 1 p.m.
Dinamo Zagreb vs. Skenderbeu — 1 p.m.
FH vs. Braga — 1:45 p.m. ET Thursday
PAOK vs. Ostersund — 2 p.m. ET Thursday
Vardar vs. Fenerbahce — 2 p.m.
Plzen vs. AEK Lamaca — 2:15 p.m. ET Thursday
Altach vs. Maccabi Tel-Aviv — 2:30 p.m. ET Thursday
Ludogorets Razgrad vs. Suduva — 2:30 p.m.
Panathinaikos vs. Athletic Bilbao — 2:30 p.m.
Domzale vs. Marseille — 2:45 p.m. ET Thursday
Osijek vs. Austria Wien — 2:45 p.m.
Viitorul vs. Red Bull Salzburg — 2:45 p.m.
Ajax vs. Rosenborg — 2:45 p.m.
Legia Warsaw vs. Sheriff — 2:45 p.m.
AC Milan vs. Shkendija — 2:45 p.m.
Club Brugge vs. AEK — 2:45 p.m.
Partizan vs. Videoton — 3 p.m. ET Thursday
Everton vs. Hajduk Split — 3:05 p.m. ET Thursday
Maritimo vs. Dynamo Kyiv — 3:30 p.m. ET Thursday