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Rediff News  All News  » Sports » Final will be a tactical battle

Final will be a tactical battle

July 09, 2006 14:40 IST
The world's most-watched sporting event reaches its climax on Sunday when Italy take on France in the World Cup final in Berlin.

More than 70,000 people will fill the Olympiastadion on the outskirts of the German capital and more than a billion are expected to watch on television around the world.

Italy's record in the month-long tournament appears to give them a slight edge. Marcello Lippi's side have scored 11 goals and conceded just one -- and that was an own goal -- in a campaign which included a semi-final victory over hosts Germany.

Raymond Domenech's France have scored eight times and let in only two goals. They made a sluggish start to the competition but improved dramatically in the knockout stage, defeating champions Brazil in the quarter-finals.

The teams' strong defensive records suggest a tight match in keeping with many at this World Cup, a tactical battle in which each side could cancel out the other.

A single mistake or a flash of skill may make the difference.

Zinedine Zidane could provide the touch of genius to claim France's second World Cup, eight years after he inspired his country to their first title.

Victory would be the perfect way for the talented playmaker and captain to bow out in his last competitive match.

But three-times champions Italy are out to restore honour to their national game, with many top clubs engulfed in a domestic match-fixing scandal.

A win in the final would also be the crowning glory for outstanding central defender and captain Fabio Cannavaro on his 100th international appearance.

Host nation Germany won the match for third place on Saturday night with a 3-1 victory over Portugal.

They will steal some of the World Cup limelight ahead of the final when their players visit Berlin's Fan Mile by the Brandenburg Gate to thank their supporters.

Millions have gathered to party and watch matches on big screens at the Berlin Fan Mile and others across Germany, fuelling the festive atmosphere which has reigned throughout the tournament.

Andrew Gray
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