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Home > Sports > Football Fiesta > Reuters > Report


Brazil and France top World Cup bill

Paul Radford | July 01, 2006 12:16 IST

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Champions Brazil [Images] and France [Images] top the bill at the World Cup on Saturday when they meet in the competition for the first time since their memorable clash in the 1998 final in Paris.

This time the two will be fighting for a place in the semi-finals and a meeting with either England [Images] or Portugal, the team now coached by Luiz Felipe Scolari, who guided Brazil to their fifth title at the last World Cup four years ago.

Brazil and Scolari are both seeking to extend their record of 11 successive World Cup victories, Brazil as a team and Scolari as a coach.

The Brazilians, now under Carlos Alberto Parreira, play France in Frankfurt with the two key figures of the 1998 final, Brazil striker Ronaldo [Images] and France playmaker Zinedine Zidane [Images] taking centre stage again.

Zidane had a brilliant match in Paris where he scored twice in France's stunning 3-0 victory. Ronaldo, by contrast, had a stinker after suffering a mysterious fit some hours before the game.

Brazil have reached the last three World Cup finals, winning two of them, and seem to be improving in form after a sluggish start to their title defence.

Their 3-0 victory over Ghana in the second round included a Ronaldo goal, his 15th at World Cup finals and a record.

France also misfired early in the tournament but came good in the last 16 with a 3-1 win over on-form Spain, which included a Zidane goal.

Scolari resumes a personal rivalry with England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson in which he holds the advantage.

Scolari's Brazil beat England 2-1 at the same stage in Japan [Images] four years ago and as Portugal coach, he beat Eriksson's England again at Euro 2004 in Lisbon, this time on penalties after a 2-2 draw in the quarter-final.

But Portugal will be missing their playmaker Deco and defensive midfielder Costinha, who both received red cards in their bruising 1-0 victory over Netherlands in the second round.

England have hardly been firing on all cylinders at the tournament so far but, with a clutch of world class players at their disposal, are overdue to come good.

In Friday's quarter-finals, Germany [Images] overcame Argentina in a penalty shootout after a 1-1 draw in Berlin. The Germans equalised late in the game after Miroslav Klose's header cancelled out a Roberto Ayala opener just after halftime.

German keeper Jens Lehmann made two saves from Ayala and Esteban Cambiasso in the shootout to earn a 4-2 penalty triumph but a scuffle between players and officials of the teams in the aftermath marred the home team's celebrations.

Italy [Images] coasted through to a semi-final meeting with the hosts in Dortmund on Tuesday when they beat Ukraine 3-0 in Hamburg thanks to an early Gianluca Zambrotta strike and two second half goals from Luca Toni.




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