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]

 

Chinese clubs to pay 100% tax on foreign transfers

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The days of Chinese Super League sides spending eye-popping figures on a handful of international superstars are over — either that, or those figures are about to double — for now, at least.

[ MORE: Oscar given 8-game ban for petulant display in China ]

China’s Football Association announced Thursday that, effective immediately, any foreign player signed for a fee exceeding $6.63 million would be subject to a 100-percent tax on top of the fee paid to acquire the player. The tax will remain in effect until the end of China’s ongoing transfer window, July 14. The tax will also apply to Chinese players signed for a fee exceeding $3 million.

It’s Chinese authorities’ latest attempt to prevent big spending by CSL clubs, which has in every instance been detrimental to the development of young Chinese players making their way through the academy system. The taxed money will then be reinvested in “youth training, construction of public sporting facilities and scientific progress in football development,” according to a statement by the CFA.

Just last week, China was eliminated from contention to qualify for next summer’s World Cup in Russia. The only time China has ever qualified for the World Cup was in 2002.

Young Englishman Oxford goes abroad, to Gladbach, on loan

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MOENCHENGLADBACH, Germany (AP) Borussia Moenchengladbach has signed English central defender Reece Oxford on loan for the season from Premier League club West Ham.

Gladbach sporting director Max Eberl says “Oxford has gone through all the England youth teams and is one of the biggest defensive talents in Britain.”

The 18-year-old Oxford, who spent the second half of last season on loan at second-division club Reading, is Gladbach’s fifth arrival of the off-season.

Qatar stadium safety concerns again raised by death investigation

Photo by Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy/Qatar 2022 via Getty Images
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An investigation into why a British man fell to his death on a building site for the 2022 Qatar soccer World Cup has raised concerns about stadium roof safety.

World Cup organizers on Thursday released partial findings of an assessment of the accident at the Khalifa International Stadium, but said the full report cannot be released while local authorities continue their own investigation. It is one of two work-related deaths detailed in Qatar’s latest welfare report on preparations for the 2022 soccer tournament, which currently involves 12,367 workers on eight construction sites.

The 40-year-old British man fell 39 meters in January after one end of the roof catwalk he was installing dropped and a safety rope snapped.

“During the course of the investigation, the team had raised concerns with the method of installation of the raised catwalk system,” the welfare report from Qatar’s World Cup organizers stated. “This required further investigation regarding the method itself and the supervision skills of the specialist contractor staff.”

It has led to “corrective and preventative actions” being implemented by the contractor, a joint venture between Belgian and Qatari firms, along with safety checks across all stadium sites, the report said.

“These included a review of all working-at-height activities across all SC projects, an enhanced process when reviewing specialist activities within construction sites, and a detailed review of all roof and gantry designs,” the Supreme Committee overseeing stadium projects added.

The British man is the only European working on Qatar stadiums to have died in a country relying on a low-paid migrant workforce from south Asia to prepare for the first World Cup in the Middle East. Six non-work related deaths have been announced by organizers, with most suffering from heart or breathing problems.

Hassan Al Thawadi, the supreme committee’s secretary general, said medical staff are trying to raise awareness of the “importance of healthy lifestyles” by evaluating diets and identifying health issues, including hypertension and diabetes. Cooling helmets have also been developed in an attempt to make it safer for workers on outdoor sites during the searing summer heat.

World Cup preparations have been dogged by concerns about the welfare of workers since the natural gas-rich Gulf nation won the FIFA vote in 2010. Mounting international pressure led to Qatar raising living standards and worker rights. Inspections led to three contractors being blacklisted and 14 entities “demobilized” from projects for failing to tackle welfare issues, the World Cup report reveals.

“There is still work to be done to ensure our workers’ welfare standards continue to have a tangible impact on the ground and we are comprehensive in our attempts to tackle the myriad of issues facing migrant workers across the SC program,” Khalid Al-Kubaisi, who oversees worker welfare at the Supreme Committee, said in a statement.

The report has been released as Qatar is gripped by a diplomatic crisis that has seen it isolated in the region. Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain cut ties with Qatar earlier this month and blocked air, sea and land traffic over its support for Islamist groups and ties with Iran. Qatar denies the charges and says the allegations are politically motivated.

Official (finally): Salah completes move from Roma to Liverpool

Photo credit: Liverpool FC / Twiter: @LFC
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It was the summer’s first transfer rumor-turned-real-story-turned-never-ending-saga that seemed to refuse to cross the finish line, but it’s finally come to pass: Mohamed Salah is a Liverpool player.

Salah’s move from Roma to Liverpool took so long to complete that the club’s poor social-media manager probably never wants to read the words “Announce Salah” for the rest of his/her life.

The deal will cost Liverpool something in the neighborhood of $50 million — a new Liverpool club record — and completes the utterly terrifying attacking quartet Jurgen Klopp can’t wait to unleash on the Premier League come August — Salah on one side, Sadio Mane opposite, Philippe Coutinho in the middle, and Roberto Firmino at striker. Salah, by the way, will take over Firmino’s no. 11 shirt, with the Brazilian switching to no. 9.