Originally created 06/28/02

Brazil vs. Germany: Two inexorable forces reach the final



YOKOHAMA, Japan -- As favorites fell all around them, Brazil and Germany ignored the World Cup chaos and kept moving on.

One of the most topsy-turvy tournaments ever ends Sunday with a predictable final: four-time winner Brazil vs. three-time champion Germany.

So much for upstarts sending home international powers and defending champions.

Brazil has won all six of its games during the monthlong tournament, while Germany has outscored opponents 14-1.

"This is something really big," Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said. "But I felt from the beginning ... a positive energy coming from Brazil, from the Brazilian supporters that are here with us, from the bench, from the team shouting, from the players on the pitch.

"And I am sure that the Brazilian supporters are now happy that they were patient in waiting to see Brazil get into the final."

Being patient has been difficult for both finalists.

-The day before Germany routed Saudi Arabia 8-0 in the teams' opener, Senegal knocked off defending champion France.

-On the same day Brazil opened with its rugged, controversial 2-1 win over Turkey, Mexico blanked the 1998 third-place team, Croatia, 1-0.

-Hours before Germany tied Ireland 1-1 - the only blemish on its record - the Americans shocked fifth-ranked Portugal.

-One day before Brazil wrapped up its first-round group by beating Costa Rica, pretournament favorite Argentina was eliminated. On the same day Germany won its group by beating Cameroon, the French were knocked out by Denmark.

Not that the Brazilians and Germans ignored the wild results that included South Korea's trip to the semifinals after never even winning a game in five previous trips to the World Cup. Or Turkey reach the final four in its first World Cup since 1954 before losing 1-0 to Brazil.

Or quarterfinalists from the United States and Senegal.

"I can concentrate on big occasions. I get motivated in extreme situations. But you also need luck," said Germany's Oliver Kahn, the outstanding goalkeeper of the tournament.

Brazil goalkeeper Marcos added: "In modern football, every team has a chance to win. No team is necessarily stronger than any other."

But the Brazilians, seeking an unprecedented fifth championship, have been. They not only beat the impressive Turks twice, they eased past China and Costa Rica in the first round, then beat Belgium in the second round despite being outplayed for much of the game.

When they went down a man for the final 33 minutes against England, the South Americans' defense was impenetrable. The Brazilians ended up getting more scoring chances in the last half-hour of the quarterfinal than the English.

"Every player is aware of the importance of the World Cup, and we have a strong bond as a team," wingback Roberto Carlos said.

The Germans haven't always been as impressive, but they've been just as focused and unbeatable.

They got late goals to beat Paraguay in the second round and South Korea in the semifinals. They made a first-half goal against the United States stand. All three games finished 1-0.

"As a team we have always worked hard," assistant coach Michael Skibbe said, "and a final is such an incredible challenge and experience. Every German player will do their utmost to win.

"Brazil had a very hard time against Turkey ... and they know they will have to produce an exceptional performance to beat us."

These are the only traditional powers to produce those performances game after game. They did so despite entering the tournament after mediocre qualifying runs, and with their rosters in flux.

"We both, Brazil and Germany, had a very particular situation," Scolari said, recalling a meeting with German coach Rudi Voeller at the World Cup draw in December.

He told Voeller they both had the "rope around our neck."

"We hugged each other, we saluted each other," Scolari added, "and we said maybe we'll find each other in the final,"