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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]

 

City Council approves plans for new Los Angeles soccer venue

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LOS ANGELES (AP) The City Council has approved plans to build a $250 million stadium for Major League Soccer’s expansion Los Angeles Football Club.

[ MORE: Can MLS teams begin to create separation in Week 10? ]

The council voted 12-0 Friday to move forward with a 22,000-seat stadium on the site of the old Sports Arena next to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and USC.

The 15-acre complex is also slated to include a conference center, restaurants, 140,000 square feet of plazas and streetscapes, and a soccer museum.

At its center would be the home to the new MLS team when it makes its debut in 2018.

LAFC is owned by Malaysian billionaire Vincent Tan, American venture capitalist Henry Nguyen and a celebrity-studded list of investors including Magic Johnson, Tony Robbins, Mia Hamm and Nomar Garciaparra.

Barcelona reportedly seeking out Nice winger Hatem Ben Afra

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Lost in the 2015-16 campaign has been Nice attacker Hatem Ben Afra.

[ MORE: Leicester can provide more magic at home vs. Everton ]

While Paris Saint-Germain has stolen the spotlight in France for much of this season, the former Newcastle midfielder has been nothing short of special for Les Aiglons.

[ MORE: Prince-Wright’s PL picks are in for Week 37 ]

That has left La Liga giant Barcelona contacting the 29-year old Frenchman over his services, according to Nice president Jean Pierre Rivere.

Rivere told France 3 he wouldn’t mind Ben Afra exiting the club:

“I would be very happy for him and for Nice if this move comes off,” Rivère said. “You do not reject Barcelona, but it is up to him to decide. If I was a player and Barcelona was offered to me I would not ask questions, I would go! But it is not yet done according to what I am told.”

In 32 appearances this season for Nice, Ben Afra has notched 17 goals and added five assists. He ranks third in goals, only behind PSG’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Alexandre Lacazette of Lyon.

Barcelona could very well be the frontrunners to acquire the talented attacker, but several European sides have also expressed interest in Ben Afra. Premier League clubs Chelsea and Liverpool, as well as AC Milan have also been named as potential suitors.

[ MORE: What do other PL teams have to say about Leicester? ]

Ben Afra’s age may be a bit of a concern for the Blaugrana though, in addition to the fact that this current season is the only time in his career that he has tallied double-digit goals. The Lyon academy product could provide solid depth to Barcelona’s attack should a deal get finalized.

Follow @MattReedFutbol

Premier League Preview: Leicester City vs. Everton

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  • Leicester simply playing for home pride
  • Everton seek top-10 finish

Leicester City host Everton on Saturday from the King Power Stadium (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on USA and online via Live Extra) in hopes of providing its fans with a season-capping victory, after winning the Premier League title on Monday.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE VIA LIVE EXTRA

By now everyone has seen Christian Fuchs‘ video of the Leicester players in celebration mode, but there are still two games left to play. The match against Everton may be more about pride than anything else, but it can still represent an important feat for the club and serve as a true celebration in front of their home supporters.

Jamie Vardy‘s return will provide the fans with yet another moment to applaud and you’d expect the Leicester forward to want to add to his 22 PL goals.

[ MORE: Norwich in desperate need of three points vs. Manchester United ]

The Foxes will be met by an Everton side that don’t really have anything to play for either. Toffees manager Roberto Martinez will surely be looking for a win with his job on the line, however, it’s left to be seen whether or not he can actually maintain his position. Everton has finished in the PL top 10 each of the last eight seasons, and a finish outside of that mark would be a huge setback for the club.

What they’re saying…

Ranieri on his team competing: “Inside me there are two people. One is a very aggressive, I want to win, I won the Premier League but now I want to win on Saturday.”

Martinez on Leicester not letting up: “I’m sure any sort of celebration could affect you in the long term if you had to face a difficult month. In a 90-minute game where the stadium is going to be an historic environment, I’m sure that can only be positive for the home team.”

Prediction

The title is already theirs but why wouldn’t Leicester win this match? The KP Stadium will be rocking into the night and the Foxes will come away with a convincing 3-0 win against Everton.

Follow @MattReedFutbol

Premier League Preview: Norwich City vs. Manchester United

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  • Norwich sit two points out of 17th place
  • United in battle with West Ham for Europe
  • Canaries are losers of three straight

Norwich City host Manchester United from Carrow Road on Saturday (Watch live, 7:45 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra) as the Canaries seek Premier League safety with two weeks remaining.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE VIA LIVE EXTRA

With their season on the line, Norwich is facing desperation as they meet Manchester United. The Canaries posted just one win in four matches in April, leaving them 19th in the PL. While neither Newcastle nor Sunderland were able to create separation between themselves and Norwich, a win against United is a necessity with three games left to play.

Goals have come at a minimum this season for the Canaries, leaving Nathan Redmond and Dieumerci Mbokani in need of a big game. Each player has notched five goals this season for the side.

[ MORE: Ranieri’s on-field changes as manager have propelled Leicester ]

Disappointment has surrounded United for much of the 2015-16 season, however, the Red Devils still have important matches to play down the stretch. That starts with Norwich. Sitting four points behind fourth place Manchester City and holding a game in hand, Louis Van Gaal‘s club can close the gap on the Citizens with a strong performance on Saturday.

What they’re saying…

Neil on match’s importance: “Everybody knows the situation, so I don’t think it is going to have massive difference in terms of how we would approach the game or they (relegation rivals) would approach the game. What it does do is apply pressure to their game, but there will be pressure on that anyway. They will recognise and we recognise that all the teams need to win games to stay in the division.”

Van Gaal on injury struggles: “I always talk about facts, not about hypothetical circumstance and activities. I can only say that in the end of November we had first position, after that we had a big decline.”

Prediction

Despite playing in front of a feisty home crowd at Carrow Road and picking up a 2-1 victory early this season against United, the Canaries chances aren’t too optimistic. Norwich hasn’t scored in three straight matches, all of which were losses. With United still playing for something I don’t expect the Red Devils to drop this match. Give United the points on the road, 3-1, leaving Norwich to rely on Aston Villa and Chelsea to pick up wins.

Follow @MattReedFutbol

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