FIFA World Cup Germany 2006

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Friday, June 23, 2006

Spain will face France after beating Saudi Arabia

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The Red Fury wants to make history. Spain used a substitute squad to beat a poor Saudi Arabia in Kaiserslautern yesterday and ensured they went through to the round of 16 as winners of Group H.

In themost important move, centre defender Juanito scored the winner nine minutes from half-time when he fired a bullet header past goalkeeper Mabrouk Zaid after Jose Antonio Reyes whipped in a free kick from the left.

This win extended Spain's unbeaten run to 25 matches and meant they finished the group stage with a maximum nine points for the second World Cup in a row.

Aragones' team will now meet France in the last 16 in Hanover on Tuesday. This will be one of the most expected games in the next stage.

In the other hand, it was a disappointing end to the tournament for Saudi Arabia who go home with just a point after surrendering the lead to draw 2-2 in their opening encounter against Tunisia and then losing 4-0 to Ukraine.

Furthermore, Ukraine got their pass as the second team after beating Tunisia with a lonely goal of Shevchenko.

Group H final positions:

Spain (9)
Ukraine (6)
Tunisia (1)
Saudi Arabia (1)

French team suffered too much to qualify

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France had to fight really hard to get into the second round of the World Cup on Friday. They defeat Togo by 2-0 to finish second in the Group G.

Juventus' midfielder Patrick Vieira broke the scoreless deadlock in the 55th minute, taking a pass from midfielder Franck Ribéry in the penalty area and swiveling to drive the ball into the right corner of the net. It was a goal of immense class in an inspirational match for Vieira.

A head pass from Vieira in the 61st minute steered the ball into Henry's path. The Arsenal player brought it down and, from about 15 feet, buried the ball in the bottom left corner to make the score 2-0. Henry has not always been at his best in the French jersey, but this was ruthless finishing from one of the game's most elegant frontline man.

France ended second in this group and will have to play against Spain in the next stage. Switzerland was the best team in the zone and will face Ucrania.

The Swiss team defeated South Korea 2-0 and earned their pass to the round of 16 in the first position.

Group G final positions:

Switzerland (7)
France (5)
South Korea (4)
Togo (0)

Brazil beat Japan and win the Group F

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When the brazilian players want to win there's nothing in the world that can stop them. Brazil finally showed their great power in the final game of Group F with a 4-1 win over Japan on Thursday. A surprising Ronaldo emerged from his shell to score a brace that made him join the all-time World Cup top scorer on 14 goals with Germany’s Gerd Muller.

Keiji Tamada score the first for Japan with a violent shot but Ronaldo equalized in the last minute of the first half, with a good header.

In the last part, Gilberto finished a long run with a very good shot and beat the Japanese goalkeeper. Ronaldo scored the third with an excellent shot from outside the area. And Juninho netted the last goal with an impressive blast from 30 meters.

This victory saw Brazil advance with maximum points to a last 16 meeting with rank outsiders Ghana after the "verdeamarelha" extended their winning run to a record ten games, going back to the start of their successful 2002 campaign.

Real Madrid's Ronaldo was all smiles afterwards as he showed that he was by no means over the hill following two predatory finishes which saw off a Japan side who dared to take the lead. “The record wasn’t my main goal. I just wanted to be there for the squad,” he said. “I have been very patient. You have to keep working and not lose heart,” said the 29-year-old star, who added that the support of his family “has carried me through the tough times,” including another injury-ravaged season.

Brazilian Coach Carlos Alberto Parreira said Brazil had shown just what they are capable of. “I am very happy with the win and the manner in which it was achieved. Today, we played our game, passing the ball around. We deserve to top the group. And Ronaldo Nazario is getting better and better,” Parreira claims. “He is a very special player.” With Brazilian legend Zico in their coaching hotseat the Japanese, needing a victory to have any hope of advancing, refused to buckle under the early pressure from the men in yellow but fell away badly in the second half.

In the other match, Croatia and Australia tied 2-2. The game was violently played, and the referee didn't have a good night. This result allows Australia to go to the roound of 16. Now they will face Italy.

Group F final positions:

Brazil (9)
Australia (4)
Croatia (2)
Japan (1)

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Italy eliminates the Czech Republic

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In one of the most important results of the tournament, Italy won the Group E this morning, and eliminate the 10-man Czech Republic with a 2-0 victory in Hamburg.

Thanks to a 26th-minute header from substitute Marco Materazzi, the Italians the lead before the Czechs were reduced to 10 men just before the break with the dismissal of Jan Polak.

Milan striker Filippo Inzaghi rounded goalkeeper Petr Cech to roll home the second in the 87th minute as the Czechs threw everyone forward.

It's very important to remember that the Czechs sorely missed injured forward Jan Koller and suspended striker Vratislav Lokvenc, and it was left to midfielder Pavel Nedved to provide the attacking creativity.

Buffon dealt well with a dipping drive but could only parry out many Nedved efforts - although the Italy keeper did well to smother Marek Jankulovski's follow-up.

It's fair to mention that Italy's problems increased in the 17th minute when they were forced into a change - Alessandro Nesta, suffering from what appeared to be a recurrence of his troublesome muscle injury, limping off to be replaced by defender Materazzi.

The good luck entered with him. Nine minutes after joining the match, the big central defender headed the Azzurri in front with his first goal for the national side leaping superbly above Polak to power a header past Petr Cech.

Italy's grip on the match got tighter just before the break when Polak was dismissed for a second bookable offence for a foul from behind on midfielderTotti.

That left Karel Brueckner's side down to 10 men for a second half in which they needed to score two goals to keep themselves in the World Cup, and the Czech coach made a switch at the break bringing on attack-minded Jiri Stajner for veteran Karel Poborsky.

And then Totti, still looking far from his best, was given space for a long range effort that Cech pushed round the post in the 53rd minute.

In the other match, Ghana beat the United States and qualify for the round of 16. NOw Italy will play the second of group F, and Ghana's rival will most likely be Brazil.

Group E final positions:

Italy (7)
Ghana (6)
Czech Republic (3)
USA (1)

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Argentina win the first position after 0-0 draw with the Netherlands

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It was one of the most expected derbies in this World Cup but they didn't even score a goal. The Netherlands and Argentina got a 0-0 draw and advanced into the knockout stage of the World Cup, while Cote d'Ivoire and Serbia and Montenegro played just for the honor.

Even though there were glimpses of brilliance from both teams, the Netherlands and Argentina seemed content to see the match out for the draw, having already qualified for the last 16 after winning their opening two encounters in the group.

It's interesting to know that in the last attack of the night, Carlos Tevez got the best chance for Argentina in the injury time when he stabbed the ball to the goal after a group of dazzling steps past the Dutch defence, but it missed the target.

"We didn't play the kind of football that we like to play, but we were facing a very strong squad," Argentina coach Perkman admitted.

According to the experts, the Argentines seemingly found their scintillating form in a 6-0 win over Serbia and Montenegro last Friday.

Group C final positions:

Argentina (7)
Netherlands (7)
Ivory Coast (3)
Serbia & Montenegro (0)

Portugal proved to be a candidate as they beat Mexico

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The result finished 2-1 for Portugal who beat Mexico. Both teams advandced to the round of 16 in the World Cup Germnay 2006. The Mexican squad didn't cover the expectation, and the first spot was for Figo's team.

Portugal won thanks to goals by Maniche and Simao Sabrosa in the first 25 minutes, and Kikin replied by heading in a corner kick to put Mexico back in the match before halftime.

"Things couldn't be better," Scolari expressed. In fact, he holds the World Cup record with 10 straight coaching victories. He won seven matches with unbeaten Brazil in the 2002 tournament, and now is 3-0 in this Cup.

It's fair to say that Mexico, coming off a win and a draw, missed a penalty kick and played the last 30 minutes with 10 men. However, their door to the knockout round opened when Angola drew with Iran.

According to these results, Portugal will play the Netherlands on Sunday in Nuremberg after the Dutch tied Argentina 0-0 to finish second in Group C. Mexico will face Argentina in Leipzig.

Group D final positions:

Portugal (9)
Mexico (4)
Angola (2)
Iran (1)

England go to the round of 16 without Michael Owen

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England and Sweden tied 2-2 in a very exciting game that gave them the ticket to the second stage. The English team still cannot beat Sweden.

The English side went in front when Joe Cole hit a sensational lob from 35 yards, but then Marcus Allback equalised when he headed home from a right-wing corner.

The coach made a wise decision and Steven Gerrard headed in Joe Cole's 85th-minute cross, but Henrik Larsson levelled for Sweden in injury time.

The bad luck, however, hit the English squad. A knee injury to striker Michael Owen will have him miss the rest of the tournament.

It's important to say that England will now face Ecuador on Sunday at 1600 BST in Stuttgart, while Sweden play Germany in Munich 24 hours earlier.

Group B final positions:

England (7)
Sweden (5)
Paraguay (3)
Trinidad & Tobago (1)

Germany defeated Ecuador 3-0

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With a brilliant performance, Germany claimed three wins out of three when they defeated Ecuador 3-0 to finish top of Group A.

TOp scorer Miroslav Klose, now with four goals, netted twice against the Ecuatorian goalkeeper.

The host team were clearly taking the threat of a possible match against England more seriously than Ecuador and, even though they had already qualified, they played at full strength.

It's important to mention that Germany started the World Cup with some uncertainty over their prospects, but their qualification for the knockout stages has been incredibly easy.

In fact, Germany may not have faced any sort of proper test yet, having played against a really limited Costa Rica, a terrible Poland and now the weak Ecuador, but they have beaten every squad they have faced, and not once seriously looked in any danger of not getting all three points they needed.

Now Germany will lay against Sweden, the second of Group B, and Ecuador will face powerhouse England, in a very difficult challenge for them.

Group A Final positions:

Germany (9)
Ecuador (6)
Poland (3)
Costa Rica (0)

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Australian soccer sad after Brazilian victory

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Brazil found a very hard team in Australia. Despite the 2-0 of the "verdeamarelha", the "Socceroos" made a really good game and deserved better luck.

Ronaldinho and Kaka were not as brilliant as in the first game. But the Brazilian team sides with Cafu and Ze Roberto worked very hard to help Brazil overcome the Australian enthusiasm.

Dutch coach Guus Hiddink had insisted before his side took on Brazil that while the result was important, the performance, with the eyes of the world on them, was equally so.

Even though it may be comfort of the coldest kind, he, and the nation, can take solace from the thought that the Socceroos might have been beaten by the Cup favourite in a fast and fierce contest today, but they were rarely bloodied and certainly never bowed in a match that, had the football gods smiled up on them, would have ended in a draw.

We have to say that in a thrilling second half Australia, playing in an unfamiliar navy, launched waves of attacks on the Brazilian goal after falling behind just after the restart to a goal by Adriano.

Where other squads might have retreated into their shell, Australia merely redoubled its efforts, and created a number of great chances which, on other days, would have levelled the score.

That's why it was the cruellest twist of fate that the South Americans, breaking swiftly after an Australian attack, were able to kill the result with a second goal they hardly deserved in the very last minute.

Rooney could be important in England's attack

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England has a good chance to line-up with Michael Owen and Wayne Rooney against Sweden. And everyone wonders about how good would that be.

Thrown into his first start since fracturing his right foot, Rooney has to prove that his fitness is as good as the England camp have claimed. If not, Sven-Göran Eriksson’s squad are in trouble because the Manchester United striker is regarded as the antidote to most of the failings in their opening two World Cup games.

As we know, he is certainly regarded as the cure by Owen, whose place in the starting XI has been questioned by Sir Bobby Robson and Terry Venables, two former England managers. In fact, having been hauled off twice before the hour, the Newcastle United forward had reason to be concerned that the present England head coach had also lost faith, but he has been buoyed by the news not just that he will play in Cologne , but alongside Rooney.

The return of “Wazza”, as his team-mates call him, restores England’s most potent match-winner and the one player who can glue the rest of the side together. “He is really important, a fantastic player and that type of link player between the two players and the midfield that we need,” Eriksson said.

“We saw when Rooney came on (against Trinidad & Tobago) that maybe he is not 100 per cent, but he kept the ball up there and did some very clever movements and good passes.”

According to reporters, on the training ground, the coaches have been emphasising the need for patience and ball-retention. With Rooney back, there are reasons to hope that we have seen an end to the long, diagonal balls that have earned England minimum marks for style along with maximum points.

Newcastle's Owen is more hopeful than anyone that England will start playing with more variation and imagination. Glenn Roeder, his manager on Tyneside, spoke yesterday about the forward “fighting for scraps off Peter Crouch, which doesn’t suit him”, an analysis that might have come from Owen himself.

“It is very simple,” England’s leading goalscorer said. “We have not been getting the ball in the right areas. I am totally reliant on my team-mates in that respect. If the team are firing on all cylinders and playing well and getting footballers into places where I come alive, then you’ll see a different me.

“If we can get someone just behind me or in center of the ground with their head up, then I come alive. You would think there would not be as many longer balls. You know, Wayne and myself are not that tall. It may encourage players to keep it on the deck a bit more.”

France surprised by South Korea's football

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South Korea proved they can fight very hard and get what they want. Park Ji Sung made the goal to tie 1-1 with wasteful France in a Group G match Sunday that could mark the end of Zinedine Zidane's career.

Arsenal striker Thierry Henry put the French ahead on nine minutes with their first World Cup goal since they won the 1998 final on home soil, improving on a goalless opening draw against Switzerland.

Nowever, the things were not good for the French side and they were left with just two points from two games - though Mexican referee Benito Archundia failed to allow what television replays showed as a clear goal by midfielder Patrick Vieira.

As we said, Zidane, who will be 34 when France play Togo on Friday, received his second yellow card of the tournament for pushing a defender in the penalty area just following the South Korean equaliser.

As a result, the French captain and mastermind of the 1998 champion team will miss the final group game against Togo, which could be the last in France's 2006 trophy campaign unless they get the victory.

"We were greatly improved on the match against Switzerland. We put some great moves together," French coach Raymond Domenech claims.

"I saw that we controlled this game for long spells, but we're unlucky the referee didn't give the score on Vieira's header."

In fact, South Korea, playing their sixth World Cup in a row, now lead the group with four points before Togo and Switzerland meet in their second Group G encounter Monday.

Domenech blamed 'strange' refereeing for Zidane's second booking. Still he praised the fighting spirit of the Koreans, who were semi- finalists four years ago when they co-hosted the tournament.

"Their goal was bit flukey, but that's football," he expressed. "We know where we are: We have to win the last clash."

Line-ups:

France: Fabien Barthez, Willy Sagnol, Lilian Thuram, William Gallas, Eric Abidal, Patrick Vieira, Claude Makelele, Sylvain Wiltord (60. Franck Ribery), Zinedine Zidane (90. Trezeguet), Florent Malouda (88. Vikash Dhorasoo) - Thierry Henry.

South Korea: Lee Woon Jae, Choi Jin Cheul, Kim Young Chul, Kim Dong Jin, Lee Young Pyo, Kim Nam Il, Lee Ho (67. Kim Sang Sik), Lee Eul Yong (45. K Seol), Park Ji Sung, Lee Chun Soo (71. Ahn Jung Hwan), Cho Jae Jin.

Italy got a violent 0-0 draw with the USA

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Italy was expected to get the victory after making a great game against Ghana, but this time it was different. Alberto Gilardino gave them the lead with a diving header, but an own goal by Cristian Zaccardo brought the United States back on level terms.

Amazingly, this draw left all four teams in the group in the mix for the knockout stages after Ghana defeated the Czech Republic 2-0 in Cologne.

American striker Eddie Johnson had caused a rumpus earlier in the week by comparing the World Cup to war. The clash wasn't warfare, but this gripping contest was everything but friendly.

According to the referee, Italy had Daniele De Rossi sent off in the 28th minute for elbowing Brian McBride and American Pablo Mastroeni shortly followed him down the tunnel for clattering into Andrea Pirlo.

What's more, the American team was reduced to nine men a minute after halftime when Eddie Pope picked up his second yellow card. It was only the fourth time in the history of the tournament that three players had been sent off in the same game.

Goalkeeper Kasey Keller pulled off two excellent saves to deny Italy substitute Alessandro Del Piero in the closing stages as the Americans bravely dug in to snatch a point.

It's important to say that Italy now have four points, followed by the Czech Republic and Ghana both on three and the US on one. However, Italy face the Czech Republic in Hamburg on Thursday, while the Americans take on Ghana in Nuremberg. The winners will advance to the second stage.

Ghana's win is celebrated by millions in Africa

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Ghana shocked the World Cup after getting the first surprising result. They beat Czech Republic in a very steady way and showing a great football.

In fact, it was their first-ever victory at soccer's World Cup and celebrations from Cologne's historic squares to Accra's markets and may inspire other African squads still to get three points at the tournament.

"I'm proud and this vistory is for the team, for Ghana and the people of Africa," Michael Essien told reporters at the German city.

Africa's five representatives had previously lost five and drawn two of their encounters at the four-yearly showpiece. The win sparked celebrations in the Ghanaian capital similar to the scenes that marked the country's independence from the U.K. in 1957.