: World Cup Final: Brazil vs. Germany
While others were predicting a goal-fest, that made no sense to me: I figured it would be 1-0 in favor of either team. First goal wins, in a sense. People criticize Brazil’s defense, but their defense is actually pretty good. Germany might be able to score, but would be happy would a one-goal lead. Brazil’s won their last few by one, as has Germany, so why not in the final where everything is at stake?
The first half was all Germany. They came out aggressively, but couldn’t really find much of a goal to shoot at. Brazil defended, and Germany’s physical play and tight marking meant they rarely got anything going. Although Brazil had the better chances, requiring a few desperate defender saves and saves from goalkeeper-of-the-tournament Oliver Kahn, Brazil only played in flashes, never able to build to a goal the way they like. In the second half, in was more of the same, but with Germany a touch more desperate and Kahn’s saves a bit more frantic. Finally, on a hard shot from Rivaldo that seemed harmless as it went right at Kahn, the wet ball dipped at the last moment and Kahn’s shutout streak went away. He couldn’t hold the ball and fumbled his catch. The ball bounced out of his arms and right to the feet of a charging Ronaldo, the last person on the planet you want with the ball in front of goal if you’re his opponent. He slid the ball into the net without breaking into a sweat, and suddenly Brazil was leading and Ronaldo had done what he’d vowed: score in every match of this World Cup! After that, it was time for Germany to attack ferociously, desperate for the tying goal. But that left them exposed at the back, and it didn’t take Brazil long to capitalize. A half chance for Ronaldo and it was 2-0 Brazil. Incredibly, Ronaldo ties Pele’s 12 World Cup goals (the most for a Brazilian) in the same 14 games. However, Ronaldo’s only 25 years old and potentially has two more World Cups left. He might win the Golden Ball (tournament Most Valuable Player, decided on Tuesday by the world media) but he definitely wins the Golden Boot (most goals in the tournament with seven). Overall, a predictable performance by both teams. Brazil was quieter than expected, more like the troublesome team we saw struggle through qualifying and occasionally hiccup in this tournament (like in their lackluster 2nd match against Turkey). Germany played their predictable boring defensive game, lots of high balls in the attack, and relied on their super-keeper Kahn to keep them in the game. In the end, Brazil won, and that’s great. It’s their record fifth World Cup title (Germany and Italy have three each), and though this particular Brazil team is beatable, they did what they had to do in this tournament, and that’s the bottom line. Good stuff. Final: 2-0 Brazil.