Final encounter between two giants

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> After all the upsets, the 2002 World Cup final is a match-up of the two biggest powerhouses in the history of the competition.

Updated: February 25, 2007 09:27 IST
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After all the upsets, the 2002 World Cup final is a match-up of the two biggest powerhouses in the history of the competition. Maybe the biggest surprise of all is that, despite six previous appearances each in the final, Brazil and Germany have never met in the World Cup. Brazil downed Turkey 1-0 at Saitama, Japan yesterday, a day after Germany ended the emotional and inspiring run of co-host South Korea with a 1-0 victory in Seoul. The semifinal run meant that Brazil – with four victories and two losses in the finals - bid to extend their record to five triumphs. The Germans are 3-3 in finals and aim to join them on four. Winners in 1958, 1962, 1970 and 1994, Brazil also aim to bounce back from a tame performance in the final four years ago when they were outplayed 3-0 by hosts France. A victory in the championship game would sweep away the gloom that followed that grim day at the Stade de France. Sunday's final has one of those glorious contrasts in styles. The flamboyant ones Brazil have attacking players who will want to tie the German midfield and defence in knots. They have showed glimpses of their natural flair throughout the tournament, perhaps the highlights being Edmilson's acrobatic scoring overhead kick against Costa Rica and the 40-metre Ronaldinho run which set up a sweet finish by Rivaldo against England. Though not yet back to his best, Ronaldo has the highest number of goals in the tournament, taking on defenders with his trademark stepover runs. Cafu and Roberto Carlos too have been attacking with speed and flair down the flanks. Ronaldinho, the third of the "Three Rs" along with Ronaldo and Rivaldo, will be back after suspension for the final. The 22-year-old Paris Saint Germain star scored the match-winner against England in the quarterfinal, but was ejected just six minutes later and missed the semifinal. Gritty boys After the wake-up call of a 5-1 crushing by England in Munich 10 months ago, the Germans have rallied strongly without making many friends. Under coach Rudi Voeller, they have relied on their tried and trusted format of wearing down the opposition and grinding out 1-0 victories in their last three games. Although they started with an 8-0 trouncing of Saudi Arabia, they were held 1-1 by Ireland. But that was the last goal Oliver Kahn conceded and he has underlined his position as the world's No. 1 'keeper with four shutouts in a row and some standout saves. Despite coming to the World Cup without several injured players such as Sebastian Deisler, Mehmet Scholl, Jens Nowotny and Christian Woerns, the Germans have looked rock solid in defence while Michael Ballack and Bernd Schneider have been their creative forces in midfield. Sadly for Ballack, he misses the final, having collected yellow cards in successive games. Miroslav Klose, who scored five goals in the first round, has been shut out since then. The Polish-born striker is nursing a rib injury coming off the semifinal victory over the Koreans, but should make the final. (AP)

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