German newspapers mourned their team's loss in Sunday's World Cup final by mixing criticism of a goalkeeping error with praise for a side no one expected to advance so far.
In their Monday morning editions, most German papers blamed goalkeeper Oliver Kahn for the loss after his first mistake of the tournament -- failure to hold a shot from Rivaldo -- enabled Ronaldo to score on a rebound in the 67th minute.
"One mistake is a mistake too many," read the headline in Munich's Sueddeutsche Zeitung, available late on Sunday, after Brazil beat Germany 2-0.
"Of all people Kahn, who is possibly the best goalkeeper in history, makes the sort of blunder that happens to goalkeepers around the world," the newspaper wrote. "It was a football irony that blighted this nearly wonderful football party for Germany."
The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) summed up on its front page the disappointment Germans are feeling even after their side unexpectedly advanced so far in the tournament.
"It wasn't meant to be, Brazil defeats Germany," read the paper's front page banner headline.
On its sport page the influential newspaper also zoomed in on Kahn's responsibility for the defeat.
"Kahn opens the gate for Brazil's fifth World Cup title," their headline read. In a commentary, the Frankfurt newspaper insisted that Germany were the better team even though Brazil had several brilliant individual performers.
"Brazil is the world champion -- Germany has the best team in the world," the FAZ wrote.
"It sounds like a contradiction. But the question was what happens when two different football empires square off in the final. Germany were beaten by two Ronaldo goals. But Germany proved that as a team they knew how to stay even with Brazil."
KAHN TO BLAME
Bild, continental Europe's best-selling newspaper with more than four million copies sold each day, put the blame for the loss squarely on Kahn.
"Kahn's tragic mistake," read its front page, of the man it had praised with a series of giant page one pictures and headlines for the last four weeks.
"The football god must be Brazilian after all," Bild added. "We were so close."
Bild also praised coach Rudi Voeller, who took over the team two years ago after three humbling defeats in Euro 2000, and predicted Germany would win the 2006 tournament at home.
"Thanks Rudi, you made football fun to watch again," Bild added. "Keep your heads up lads, now we'll just have to win it in 2006."
The Berliner Morgenpost said in a commentary that the "aesthetic team" from Brazil had beaten the "pragmatic" side.
"In all honesty, we are disappointed," the Morgenpost said. "We've been dragged through the deserts of no success for years and we had hoped our pragmatism would prevail over the aesthetes of Brazil."
Berlin's Der Tagesspiegel wrote a simple page one headline "Germany, What a shame". It added on its sports front page "Ronaldo masters Kahn".
"The dancers from Brazil won," Der Tagesspiegel wrote in a commentary. "Germany would have been worthy champions as well. Perhaps the Dutch, French and Spanish would disagree. They are probably relieved the worst-possible-accident was avoided: Germany winning the World Cup?
"That would have been a horrible scenario for the cultural pessimists around the world," it added. "The international press have been calling Germany the 'unbeatable monsters'."