2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan™

2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan™

31 May - 30 June


#WorldCupAtHome: Ronaldo inspires Brazil to fifth star

  • O Fenomeno leads Brazil to their fifth title
  • #WorldCupAtHome continues to bring you classic encounters
  • Yokohama witnessed an engrossing Final between Brazil and Germany

Before the Final of the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan™, Brazil and Germany had never met at the global showpiece, a fact that raised enormous expectations ahead of their clash. Indeed, Yokohama witnessed an engrossing Final pitting two of the game’s most successful footballing nations against one another.

On this occasion, it saw the tournament’s most potent attack, spearheaded by a revitalised Ronaldo, going toe to toe with its most miserly defence, marshalled by Oliver Kahn, then arguably the best goalkeeper in the world.

The summary

Brazil 2-0 Germany

30 June 2002 | International Stadium Yokohama, Yokohama

Goalscorers: Ronaldo (67’, 79’)

Germany: Oliver Kahn (c), Thomas Linke, Carsten Ramelow, Christoph Metzelder, Torsten Frings, Dietmar Hamann, Jens Jeremies (Gerald Asamoah 77’), Marco Bode (Christian Ziege 84’), Bernd Schneider, Miroslav Klose (Oliver Bierhoff 74’), Oliver Neuville.

Brazil: Marcos, Lucio, Edmilson, Roque Junior, Cafu (c), Gilberto Silva, Kleberson, Roberto Carlos, Ronaldinho (Juninho 85’), Rivaldo, Ronaldo (Denilson 90’)

Brazil's Kleberson kicks past Germany's Miroslav Klose
© Getty Images

The stakes

The stakes for that Final could not have been higher. Victory for Germany would allow them to pull level with Brazil on four World Cup titles, while success for A Seleção would give them their fifth, two more than their nearest challengers Germany and Italy.

Brazil topped their section, winning all three of their games before overcoming Belgium, England and Turkey en route to the final. By contrast, Rudi Voller’s charges topped Group E with two wins and a draw but then struggled to beat Paraguay, USA and Korea Republic, all 1-0, to reach the decider.

The match

Agonising absence: Michael Ballack played a decisive role in Germany reaching the Final after scoring the winning goals in the quarter and semi-final against USA and Korea Republic respectively. However, a yellow card in the last-four encounter ruled him out of the decider against Brazil, which would ultimately prove costly for Die Mannschaft. His absence from that game was a contributory factor to a subsequent rule change effectively discarding yellow cards received prior to the semi-final.

Captain’s role: Cafu competed in his third World Cup Final at Korea/Japan 2002, lifting his second global crown. For his first, he came off the bench for his side’s win over Italy at USA 1994, then started against France when Brazil were on the losing side four years later. The flying right-back was crucial in stymieing a potent German offense spearheaded by Miroslav Klose, who had bagged five goals en route to the final.

Expensive mistake: In their six games prior to the Final, Germany conceded a solitary goal, coming in their 1-1 draw with Republic of Ireland at the group stage. In the decider, however, the in-form Kahn made a costly error that led to Ronaldo’s opener for Brazil. Speaking after the game, the shot-stopper said: "Nothing can make me feel better about what I did. I made a mistake, the only one in seven games, and it was severely punished. It feels a whole lot worse when you mess up in a final. I should have held that shot."

The star

Despite having barely kicked a ball for two years due to career-threatening knee injuries, Korea/Japan 2002 was an opportunity for Ronaldo to make amends for Brazil’s agonising loss in the Final four years earlier. O Fenomeno emerged as the hero scoring both Brazil’s goals in the decider to end the tournament with eight, the most anyone had scored at a single World Cup since Gerd Muller struck ten at Mexico 1970.

Ronaldo helps up Oliver Kahn during the 2002 FIFA World Cup Final
© Getty Images

What they said

"It’s a wonderful feeling to have won this trophy and very moving to see how many people were jubilant after we won. I wanted to become a world champion so badly. Achieving that goal, winning the biggest prize there is to win in football, made me ecstatically happy."
Ronaldo, Brazil forward

"Brazil deserved it. It was a fantastic World Cup but it wasn’t meant to be. Brazil were clearly the better team on the day, and getting to the final was a triumph in itself for us. We went as far as we could, and the only way we’d have won the final was if Brazil had forgotten to play."
Christoph Metzelder, Germany defender

"Leading a group of players who want to win is much easier than leading a group that doubt themselves, aren’t committed or are divided. Brazil’s 2002 team was very easy to lead [as captain] because everyone had the same goal, and that was to become world champions. When you have that togetherness, and there are no egos, it certainly makes your job as captain easier."
Cafu, Brazil captain

What happened next

Brazil’s triumphant campaign helped erase memories of A Seleção’s bitter defeat to France four years earlier. Less than six weeks later, Luiz Felipe Scolari stepped down and was replaced by Carlos Alberto Parreira, who kept faith with several of the Yokohama heroes. At Germany 2006, however, Brazil failed to defend their title after losing to France in the quarter-finals.

Die Mannschaft, for their part, witnessed sweeping changes with Voller quitting after his side’s first-round elimination at UEFA EURO 2004. Two years after that, a new-look Germany missed out on a world title on home soil after falling to eventual champions Italy in the semi-finals.

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