Match day preview for 22 June 2006
Match #41 - Hamburg - CZECH REPUBLIC v. ITALY*
Italy and Czechoslovakia/Czech Republic have met a total of 29 times; the Eastern Europeans lead with ten wins, ten draws and nine defeats.
The Czech Republic are unbeaten in three previous head-to-heads with the Azzurri (two wins, one draw), defeating Italy 2-1 at EURO 1996, 1-0 in a 2002 friendly match in Prague and drawing 2-2 in another friendly in Palermo in 2004.
In two previous FIFA World Cup head-to-heads, both played in Rome, Italy defeated Czechoslovakia: 2-1 in extra time in the 1934 final and 2-0 in a final group match at Italia 90.
Italy have not lost their final FIFA World Cup group match since 23 June 1974, when they were defeated 1-2 by Poland in Stuttgart.
Exactly 18 years ago, on 22 June 1988, Italy suffered a 0-2 defeat to the Soviet Union in a EURO semi-final in Stuttgart.
Match #42 - Nuremberg - GHANA v. USA*
Ghana and the USA have only ever met before in FIFA youth competitions, Ghana winning all three matches without conceding a goal: at the 1995 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Ecuador, Ghana defeated the USA 2-0; at the 1997 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Malaysia, they won by 1-0; at the 1999 FIFA U-17 World Cup in New Zealand, they defeated the USA 2-0. Consequently, Ghana and the USA play their next encounter on a fourth continent (South America, Asia, Oceania, and now Europe) but have never met in Africa or North America.
This is the first time that the USA will meet an African team in 25 FIFA World Cup matches.
This will be the first time that an African newcomer meets a CONCACAF team other than Mexico in a FIFA World Cup match; Tunisia defeated Mexico 3-1 on 2 June 1978 and Mexico drew 0-0 with Angola on 16 June 2006.
Match #43 - Dortmund - JAPAN v. BRAZIL*
Japan and Brazil's "A" teams have met on seven previous occasions, resulting in five wins for Brazil and two draws.
In terms of FIFA final competitions, the score is level with one win each and three draws. Interestingly, both victories came in Olympic Football Tournaments; following a 1-1 draw in their first Olympic encounter in 1968, Japan then defeated Brazil 1-0 in Atlanta in 1996, only for Brazil to gain revenge four years later, defeating Japan by the same margin in Sydney. The remaining draws both came in FIFA Confederations Cup competitions: they drew 0-0 in 2001 and then 2-2 in 2005, a match that took place exactly one year ago on 22 June in Cologne.
This will be Brazil's 90th FIFA World Cup match; they lead in number of matches played and have been present at all 18 FIFA World Cup editions to date. Brazil's first ever FIFA World Cup match was on 14 July 1930 in Montevideo when they lost 1-2 to Yugoslavia.
Japan have never defeated a South American team in a FIFA final competition on European soil: at the 1998 FIFA World Cup, they lost 0-1 v. Argentina in France; at the FIFA Confederations Cup 2003, they were defeated 0-1 by Colombia in France; at the Olympics in Greece in 2004, they were defeated 3-4 by Paraguay; at the FIFA Confederations Cup 2005 in Germany, they drew 2-2 with Brazil.
Match #44 - Stuttgart- CROATIA v. AUSTRALIA*
Australia lead with two wins, one draw and one defeat in four head-to-heads with Croatia, all of which were friendly matches: they played three matches in one week in 1992 in Australia, the hosts winning two matches (1-0 and 3-1) and drawing one (0-0). Coincidently, a Croatian player was sent off in all three games. Croatia's only win over Australia came on 6 June 1998, when they thrashed them 7-0 in Zagreb.
Australia and Croatia also met at the 2001 FIFA U-17 World Cup, where Australia won 4-0.
Exactly 32 years ago, on 22 June 1974, Australia gained their first ever FIFA World Cup point by drawing 0-0 with Chile in former West Berlin.
Croatia lost both of their other final group matches at the FIFA World Cup by 0-1: v. Argentina in 1998 and v. Ecuador in 2002.
FIFA Communications Division
Berlin, 20 June 2006