Last gasp Italy through to final

Last gasp Italy through to final of Worldcup
Two goals in the closing minutes of injury time sent Italy through to the World Cup final, after a thrilling encounter with Germany in Dortmund.
The win was fully deserved as Marcello Lippi's team took the game to the hosts from the off, and only an inspired performance from Jens Lehmann kept Germany in the game.
The dream is over for Jurgen Klinsmann's Germany team, but they can be proud of their efforts over the course of the last four weeks. Even in this enthralling semi-final encounter they gave their all and restored a lot of credibility to their battered reputation.
For Italy, a team whose campaign looked at one point like it might be overshadowed by the corruption scandal sweeping through their national game, this match was a reminder of certain core Italian values. Their defensive security in this tournament has been peerless, but in Dortmund they allied this to a ferocious work rate and not a little flair - a combination that ultimately proved too much for Germany.
Lippi's side will now face the winners of the Portugal-France encounter in Sunday's final, and on the evidence of a wonderfully vibrant display against the hosts, they will approach that match with great confidence.
Germany coach Jurgen Klinsmann sprung a surprise before kick-off by dropping Bastian Schweinsteiger and bringing in Sebastian Kehl. Tim Borowski came in for Torsten Frings who was suspended.
Italy welcomed Marco Materazzi for Andrea Barzagli after the Inter man's one-match suspension following a red card against Australia.
The best opportunity in the early stages fell to Perrotta who was put through on goal by delightful pass from Totti. However, the midfielder's first touch betrayed him allowing German keeper Lehmann to snuffle out the chance.
Totti was involved again shortly afterwards when he received a neatly-worked free-kick just inside the area, but his finishing let him down and his scuffed shot was blocked. Italy were on top and Luca Toni was the next to be denied after good work from Grosso.

At the other end Schneider should have done better when he was set up by Klose but with only Buffon to beat the winger blazed over. It was the best opportunity of the half and one of the few occasions that Germany had managed to stretch the watertight Italian defence.

It turning out to be an entertaining semi-final, and the referee was doing his best to let the game flow, frequently waving play on when players threw themselves to the ground. His approach did not endear him to the huge majority of the crowd, who felt that Italy were chief beneficiaries of his liberal style.

Shortly after the interval, Buffon showed why he is regarded by many as the best goalkeeper in the world, when he dived bravely at the feet of Klose to deny the striker at point blank range. Just after the hour mark, the Juventus stopper had to be alert to block Podolski's effort and when the ball fell to Friedrich the full-back could only blast his effort over the bar.

As the game progressed and tiredness became a factor, the chances were hard to come by. There was no shortage of effort and although there were no goals in normal time it was not for a lack of adventure on the part of both teams.

Gilardino almost broke the deadlock in the first minute of extra-time when he broke down the right, cut inside Ballack, but his left foot shot hit the post and rolled agonisingly across the line. Moments later Zambrotta struck a firm shot against the bar as Italy looked to ensure that the game was settled without recourse to the lottery of penalties.

At the end of the first period of extra-time Podolski had a wonderful chance to put Germany ahead when eluded his marker to meet Odonkor's cross, but his header flashed wide. In a frantic finale, Lehman was again Germany's saviour when he saved from del Piero from close range.

The ball was swept to the other end where Podolski brought an acrobatic save from Buffon. In the closing minutes del Piero's shot flashed past the post from the edge of the area, as Italy pressed for a winner. It was end-to-end stuff and before long the ball was swept forward to Odonkor but he sliced his effort wide.

Pirlo was then denied by a fine save from Lehman and from the resulting corner the Milan midfielder threaded a clever pass through to Grosso who produced a wonderful curling effort to finally beat the valiant Leman. The winner in stoppage time was the icing on the cake. With Germany pushing forward for an equaliser, Italy broke through Gilardino who fed del Piero on the overlap and the Juventus striker produced the sweetest of finishes to send Italy through to the final.

Coaches' Quotes:


We’re obviously very, very disappointed, no question about it, and that is to be expected when there is so much emotion involved and when it turns out that a dream has died. It really hurts when the other side delivers a knockout punch right before the final whistle – that takes some coming to terms with. Even we coaches need a moment to get over it. But I told the team straight after the match that they can be proud of themselves, that they've done so much and that they always pushed themselves to their limits. We showed that we can compete with the best teams in the world. We almost managed to score, and both teams had their chances, but we came up against an opponent who realised just before the end how to make the most of their opportunities and put the match out of our reach.
Congratulations to Italy and to Marcello Lippi. All the best to them for the Final. What we now want to do is give a fantastic performance for our fans in the match for third place and play some good football. In any case, the tournament has already been a real success for us and we can feel very proud of ourselves. There are players in the squad who have incredible potential and who are getting noticed on an international level. In a short space of time, they have made incredible progress. We can look to the future with a lot of optimism, and many of our squad have made a name for themselves on the international scene during the tournament.

Marcello LIPPI (ITA)

It would have been unfair if we hadn't won or if it had gone to penalties. Our game was on a higher level to Germany's tonight – we hit the post and the bar, and we had the better of the play. The hosts can have no complaints. We are incredibly happy to have played here in Germany and won despite the fact that there were 60,000 supporters against us. That shows the true character of my team. They played with a lot of confidence and kept possession very well. I’m extremely satisfied and am sure that all Italian fans will be just as pleased today.
It was clear that the end of the extra time would be decisive, which is why I brought on another attacker. As the game wore on, our quality began to shine through more and more, but nevertheless, we would still have been ready for penalties. We had a lot more of the possession overall and that gave us a certain confidence, even if we didn't manage to create that many chances. I’m pleased that Alessandro Del Piero was one of the players who helped to turn the match in our favour. That's not the end of it, though. Now we have to see who we will play in the Final, but we'll take whoever comes – we don't have any preferences.

Players' Quotes:

Andrea PIRLO (ITA), Man of the Match:

It was a fantastic game, absolutely overflowing with emotions. It was a childhood dream for me to play in a semi-final. I think that we earned our win today. We created a lot of chances, and we also definitely had the luck we needed.

Miroslav KLOSE (GER)

We are obviously incredibly disappointed. It was an even contest and both teams had their chances. Well done to the Italians. They were clever on the break and scored two lovely goals. We can still be proud of what we have achieved.

Gianluigi BUFFON (ITA)

We wanted to reach the Final and we’ve done it. (Marcello) Lippi made sure we were really up for it. I thank my team-mates for having scored two wonderful goals. I started to think about penalties from the beginning of the second half. All our wins are down to team spirit. They say Italy reach the Final every 12 years, and we’ve done it this time as well. Now we hope to go on and win.


We were just two minutes away from penalties. We created the better chances over the course of the match, and in the second half, we had three absolutely clear-cut chances. I'm not making any accusations or complaints, though. That's just the way football is.

Alessandro DEL PIERO (ITA)

You could all see how happy I was when I scored. We were desperate to win. The quality of this team lies in the strength of the squad. I’m not thinking about Sunday yet, I’m going to enjoy this moment and reflect on what we’ve done up to now. The job isn’t finished yet though.

Philippe LAHM (GER)

I don't think that we played worse than Italy today. It's a bitter pill for us to swallow. We concentrated on one thing and kept our focus right until the end, except for that one attack of theirs. We definitely want to win the Third Place match though.


We’re happy, it’s what we wanted and it’s a great feeling knowing we’re in the Final. They put us under pressure but we also created lots of chances. At the end of the day, we’re a great team and deserved to win.


We played a great game even though they did put us under lots of pressure. Our team spirit brought us victory. To win in front of such a partisan crowd is something to tell your grandchildren about. We’ll concentrate on the Final now. We want to win it!


We ended up being punished right at the death. It's really disappointing, because we only made that one mistake. I've no doubt that it'll be tough to pick ourselves up again now, but it was great, the way the crowd still cheered us on when we went one down. I don't know, it's difficult to say whether we can really be proud of ourselves.


We could have won today. Of course we knew that Italy would be even tougher than the teams we'd played before, but I still think that we did what we set out to do. We weren't looking beyond this match.

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World Cup preview - Germany v Italy

World Cup preview - Germany v Italy
Germany face Italy in Tuesday's semi-final of 2006 Worldcup, with the hosts looking to avenge the 4-1 drubbing they were given by the Italians in a friendly international in March.
Jurgen Klinsmann's side came into this tournament on the back of a series of unconvincing performances, but they have been unrecognizable since the World Cup kicked off on June 9.
Their quarter-final win over Argentina provided the ultimate proof that Klinsmann's team were genuine contenders and their form has undergone such a transformation that they go into tonight's encounter as favourites to reach Sunday's final.

Following that friendly defeat in March and there were calls for Klinsmann's to stand down, but the coach was always confident his side would perform once the tournament got underway.

"You are always going to get hammered when you lose 4-1," Klinsmann admitted.

"But friendlies are not that important and I always believed we could make it happen and go far in this tournament."

Klinsmann believes his side's record at Dortmund's Westfalenstadion could prove crucial tonight. The World Cup hosts have won 13 and drawn one game 13 from 14 matches, played at the ground.

"It's good to know we'll be playing there,” said Klinsmann.

"There is nothing like the atmosphere in Dortmund. It is like a volcano which will hopefully erupt.

“I feel proud of our team, and how they have done in this tournament.

"But we also know that we still have the two biggest hurdles in front of us, and we will go for it.

"Italy are one of the best teams in the world, and that's why they are in the final four.

"They deserve a lot of respect - they have a long and proud footballing history.

"But we must think about our own game - and if we play our own game in our own style, we are able to beat them.

"I believe the confidence that we have built over the last six weeks is enough to win the next two games and become world champions," Klinsmann added.

"We know we have the two biggest hurdles in front of us. But we want to go for it and hopefully make it to Sunday's final."

Defensive midfielder Torsten Frings has been suspended for his part in the brawl which followed the victory over Argentina, and will most likely be replaced by Werder Bremen team-mate Tim Borowski.

Tournament top-scorer Miroslav Klose and Michael Ballack have both overcome minor knocks and look set to start in Germany's record 11th semi-final.

Italy, after starting the competition slowly, are now looking a formidable outfit and they are unbeaten in their last 23, dating back to October 2004.

Italy have conceded just one goal in the tournament against USA, and that was an own goal, and coasted through to the last four with a comfortable 3-0 win over Ukraine.

They will again be without defensive lynchpin Alessandro Nesta who has not receovered from a groin injury, so Marco Materazzi, suspended for the Ukraine victory, is likely to return alongside Fabio Cannavaro in the centre of defence, as Andre Barzagli steps down.

Mauro Camoranesi has recovered from a knee problem and is available for selection.

Italy coach Marcello Lippi does not expect Germany to be significantly weakened by the absence of Torsten Frings in the World Cup semi-final.

Frings will serve a one-match ban for punching Argentina forward Julio Cruz in the melee that followed the hosts quarter-final win over Argentina.

"I think teams in a semi-final have certain quality and organisation. So they don't suffer when they don't have one player available," he said.

"We have had to do without several players during this tournament.

"Frings is an important player but I don't think it will affect Germany's play or their determination." Italy are not expecting a repeat of their 4-1 thrashing of Germany in Dortmund.

"It will be a completely different game," defender Gianluca Zambrotta said.

"That was a friendly played in the middle of the league season. Now everyone's focusing only on the World Cup."

After that defeat in March in Florence, Jurgen Klinsmann's reputation plummeted. Now his team is two wins away from what would be its fourth World Cup title.

"I said then and I'll say it again now. That score does not reflect the German team's gap with Italy and it doesn't reflect that Italy is that much better than Germany," Italy coach Marcello Lippi said.

Probable teams:


Lehmann, Friedrich, Metzelder, Mertesacker, Lahm, Schneider, Borowski, Ballack, Schweinsteiger, Podolski, Klose


Buffon, Zambrotta, Materazzi, Cannavaro, Grosso, Perrotta, Pirlo, Gattuso, Totti, Toni, Gilardino


Benito Archundia (Mexico)

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Before Semi-Final

Before Semi-Final matchs of FIFA Worldcup,opinions of each team is attractive. we gathered some of this opinions.
Klinsmann seeks home advantage
Germany coach Jurgen Klinsmann believes his side's record at Dortmund's Westfalenstadion will give them the edge in Tuesday's semi-final meeting with Italy.
Italy wary of Klose threat
Italy striker Luca Toni has highlighted the threat posed by Germany striker Miroslav Klose as the man to watch when the two countries meet in Tuesday's semi-final.
Ronaldo plays down Rooney rift
Cristiano Ronaldo has played down reports claiming that there is bad blood between himself and Wayne Rooney.
Media exalt magic France and imperious Zidane
The French press on Sunday rose as one to hail the team's stunning dismissal of favourites and holders Brazil in the FIFA World Cup™ quarter-finals the night before.

Klinsmann seeks home advantage

Germany coach Jurgen Klinsmann believes his side's record at Dortmund's Westfalenstadion will give them the edge in Tuesday's semi-final meeting with Italy.The World Cup hosts face Italy at a ground where they have won 13 and drawn one in 14 matches.

"It's good to know we'll be playing there," said Eriksson. "There is nothing like the atmosphere in Dortmund. It is like a volcano which will hopefully erupt."

Italy routed Germany 4-1 in a friendly game in May, but assistant coach Joachim Low believes that performance will act as an incentive for Germany. "Not a single second we have thought about it," he said. That view was repeated by defender Christoph Metzelder, who said: "We know there is a different kind of team on the pitch these days.

"The Italians are aware of that, too, and I think they have a lot of respect for us. "Our motivation must not be to avenge a loss in March but to reach the final. But all four teams in the semi-finals have the same chance now."

Italy wary of Klose threat

Italy striker Luca Toni has highlighted the threat posed by Germany striker Miroslav Klose as the man to watch when the two countries meet in Tuesday's semi-final."Klose has proved how great he is as a striker - not just here but in previous tournaments," said Toni.

"I think our defenders will have to be extremely careful with him because if he gets a chance he will punish you." Klose currently the leading scorer at the finals with five goals, while he also scored five times in Japan and South Korea in 2002. "He has scored so many goals and he is very strong physically and mentally," Toni added.

"In some games he may go unnoticed for much of the game and then suddenly he finds the target as we saw against Argentina." However, the striker remains upbeat about Italy's chances of reaching the final.

"This is the semi-final of the World Cup," he said. "If Germany are in the last four it is for a reason. "They are difficult side to beat, they have the advantage of playing at home. "We'll have to play at our best to knock them out, but we know what to expect and what we have to do."

Ronaldo plays down Rooney rift

Cristiano Ronaldo has played down reports claiming that there is bad blood between himself and Wayne Rooney.Rooney was upset with Ronaldo after being sent off during England's World Cup quarter final defeat to Portugal on Saturday. The Manhcester United striker was seen shoving Ronaldo after the Portugal winger appeared to urge the referee to discipline the England forward following his stamp on Ricardo Carvalho.

"The things that have been said regarding me and my team-mate and friend Rooney are incredible," said Ronaldo told gestifute website. "Between me and Rooney, there is absolutely no problem. "I reiterate, no problem.

"At the end of the game, we sent each other some text messages and also today. Between the two of us everything has been cleared. "He wished me the best of luck in the World Cup. He told me we had a great team and that if we continued to play like this, we would go far.

"He wasn't angry with me and moreover, he told me to completely ignore what the English press has said, that all they wanted was to create confusion but we are already used to that. "I am not a referee and I don't have the power to send off a player," added Ronaldo. "I had nothing to do with the fact that the referee showed the red card.

" The flying winger also played down reports claiming he would leave United for Real Madrid this summer. "There have been comments published in which I reportedly said that I didn't want to go back to Manchester United," noted Ronaldo. "That is completely false, of course I want to go back.

"It's just typical of the English press but I don't lose any sleep." Ronaldo also revealed that he asked Portugal boss Luiz Felipe Scolari if he could take the final penalty in the shoot-out against England. "When the decision was going to be taken on who will take the penalties, I asked Scolari if I could take the last one," Ronaldo said. "I like to take penalties and to score them. "Why did I ask to be last? Because I like to take responsibility and because I had a strong feeling that I was going to be the one to resolve the game."

Media exalt magic France and imperious Zidane

The French press on Sunday rose as one to hail the team's stunning dismissal of favourites and holders Brazil in the FIFA World Cup™ quarter-finals the night before.
Thierry Henry's second half volley from a Zinedine Zidane free-kick was enough to see France through in the battle between the teams that have dominated the FIFA World Cup since 1994.
"Magic!" screamed L'Equipe on its front page - a line mirrored in Lyon's Le Progres newspaper - "It was like a dream," continued L'Equipe on the inside.
"Monumental!" was the headline in Marseille's La Provence with a picture of Henry swamped by jubilant team-mates.
"Fantastic!" exclaimed Grenoble newspaper Dauphine Libere, "France is better than Brazil."
In the west of the country Dimanche Ouest-France proclaimed: "Brilliant, into the semi-finals."
Under a picture of a grinning Henry on the front page, it continued: "They've done it! Les Blues eliminated Brazil last night (Saturday). A historic victory.
"A generation that refuses to give back their jerseys. They will not be stopped. The museum awaits."
And in a reference to the stars worn on the shirts of teams that have previously won the FIFA World Cup, it added: "(Zinedine) Zidane, (Fabian) Barthez and (Lillian) Thuram can continue to dream of a second star."
Nice Matin for their part revelled in the performance of the French team, claiming: "The samba (Brazil's national dance) is blue."
And for everyone the real hero was Zidane, much maligned and criticised before the tournament began and even more so after the first two matches, in which he was ineffectual and booked twice, missing France's crucial third and final group game.
Deemed too old, past his peak and no longer a match-winning force, Zidane returned in the knock-out stages a reinvigorated character and France's footballing icon is back where he belongs, revered by one and all.
"Zidane is in seventh heaven," said the Dauphine Libere, while Nice Matin drooled over the captain's every movement.
"Zidane played his greatest match in blue. A festival of technique, extraordinary control, omnipresence and decisive passes."
For La Provence, it was all about Zidane, who outshone the samba stars Ronaldinho, Ronaldo and Kaka.
"A master without equal," it said. "In aggressiveness, in work-rate, in action or in beautiful gestures. He was more Brazilian than the Brazilians."
L'Equipe remembered Zidane's last masterclass against Brazil, eight years ago when he scored two goals against the Selecao in the FIFA World Cup final.
"The match of his life," it said, before continuing: "Eight years after his triumph of July 12, 1998, Zinedine Zidane reached a new summit against the Brazilians."
It dedicates two whole articles to gush over the national star.
"The master splattered the match with his class and genius with irreplacable persistence."
As expected, politicians jumped on the celebratory bandwagon.
President Jacques Chirac said: "I feel immense joy. The French team played admirably."
Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin applauded coach Raymond Domenech in a message sent Saturday night.
"You have achieved something formidable," said de Villepin.

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After 1 July

After 1 july quarter-finals of 2006 FIFA WorldCup, we saw different reactions from players & coachs. In below some of them are followed:

Consequences of France-Brazil Match:

Parreira takes blame for defeat

Brazil coach Carlos Alberto Parreira has taken responsibility for the holders' 1-0 defeat to France in Saturday's quarter-final encounter.
Parreira said: "I would like to thank the players. I didn't do my job as my job was to get to the final. "In Brazil when the national team loses the coach is to blame so I believe we will follow this script once again. "We never prepared for this moment.

This is a very difficult moment for all of us," he added. Parreira lavished praise on France's performance. "We were beaten by a very strong team who played an impeccable match," said Parreira. "There should have been at least one South American team in the semi-finals, its a shame for world football. "We made some silly mistakes and that cost us. "We had not expected to go out so early. Henry and Zidane were very dangerous. "I am not worried about my contract - it's something to sort out in Brazil when we get back after the World Cup." Ronaldinho, who endured a disappointing tournament, added: "It's always sad when a team that's used to winning suffers a letdown like this. "Now is the time to settle down and start thinking about what's next, and Brazil's future."

Zidane hails beautiful victory French playmaker Zinedine Zidane has described the 1-0 quarter-final win over Brazil as "beautiful". Zidane, who was inspirational on the night, said: "We needed a great match and we delivered. We knew we would have to be fit physically and we were. "
We fought closely together for a well-deserved victory. Now we'll try to win a place in the final. "This is so beautiful, we want it to carry on," added Zidane, who retires after the World Cup. Coach Raymond Domenech, whose side now face Portugal in the semi-finals, was ovberwhelmed by the performanc of his ageing team. Of course this is fantastic, exciting and everything but this is just a step forward," said Domenech. "What we want is the final and we have another match to win to get there."
"It was extraordinary. Sometimes there aren't any words to describe what you're experiencing,” said Domenech.
"I tackled with them, I shot with them. The old men are still around. "Portugal won't be easy but for the moment, let me enjoy this. There's only football to offer you great moments like this." Domenech said, his players should follow Zidane's example.
"He's playing so well because he realises the end of his career is near and he is giving it all he has," the coach said. "I would like all the players to play the next match as if it were their last." Goalscorer Henry said the game had gone according to plan. "We played well. We didn't steal anything from anybody. We had a tactical plan and it worked perfectly," he said. "We wanted to prove after what happened in 2002 that we were not rubbish," he added, referring to France's humiliating exit four years ago.

Consequences of England-Portugal Match:

Scolari praises England

Portugal coach Luiz Felipe Scolari praised England's courage after their dramatic World Cup quarter-final. England lost on penalties after holding on for almost an hour with 10 men following Wayne Rooney's dismissal.
"Congratulations to England, with 10 players they were incredible - it was an electrifying match," said Scolari. "We didn't take advantage, we shot too much from outside the area. England closed the way to goal very well and it was like playing against 11."
"I think it was a wonderful match, a really fine match. everything that we want from a football match in a good sense," Scolari said.
"There was passion, there were opportunities, the players were happy to play match like this and only penalties could decide who was the winner," he added.
"We have a possibility of victory in the next game as well and we get to the final," Scolari told Portugal's SIC television.
"But in principle, we are taking things step by step. We would be happy with any adversary." For the second successive tournament Portugal keeper Ricardo emerged as their saviour after stopping three of England's four penalties in the shoot-out.
He said: "It was great. I managed to stop three of them. I'm really happy." Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo scored the winning penalty and added: "I'm full of confidence and I shoot strong. "I was tired in the second half but I haven't played for a week so it was OK." Portugal will now face France on Wednesday for a place in the final. "We have four days to recover now so I think everyone's going to be ready," Ronaldo said.

Beckham stands down as captain
David Beckham has decided to resign as England captain after holding the position for six years. But the 31-year-old midfielder player wants to continue his international career.
"I feel the time is right to pass on the armband as we enter a new era under new coach Steve McClaren," said Beckham.
It was England caretaker manager Peter Taylor who made Beckham captain in 2000. "On 15 November 2000 Peter Taylor gave me the greatest honour of my career in making me the captain of England, fulfilling my childhood dream,” he continued.
"It has been an honour and a privilege to have captained our country and I want to stress that I wish to continue to play for England and look forward to helping both the new captain and Steve McClaren in any way I can. "
I came to this decision some time ago but I had hoped to announce it on the back of a successful World Cup. Sadly that wasn't to be. "This decision has been the most difficult of my career to date. But after discussing it with my family and those closest to me I feel the time is right. "Our performance during this World Cup has not been enough to progress further and both myself and all the players regret that and are hurt by that more than people realise.
"I wish to thank all the players for their support during my time as captain, as well as Peter Taylor, Sven and all the coaches. "I would also like to thank the press and, of course, all the England supporters who have both been great to me and my team-mates. I want them to know for me it has been an absolute honour. "
Finally, I have lived the dream, I am extremely proud to have worn the armband and been captain of England and for that I will always be grateful." Sevn Goran Eriksson said of Beckham's decision: "He's been a very good captain and very proud to do the job. "I was a bit surprised when he told me but you have to respect his decision. "It is now Steve McClaren's job to decide on Beckham's successor. He has a lot of choices that are more than capable of doing the job. It is very much up to him."

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France knock out Brazil: EURO 2006

France knock out Brazil: EURO 2006
France have booked their place in the 2006 FIFA World Cup semi-finals at the expense of holders Brazil, this after a Zinedine Zidane-inspired 1-0 win for Les Bleus in Frankfurt set up a last-four clash with Portugal.
Thierry Henry’s 57th-minute volley was the game’s solitary, all-important goal, and with Raymond Domenech’s side inspired by a vintage showing from Zidane, Brazil could have few complaints at the final whistle.
France now complete an all-European line-up in the tournament’s semi-finals, with their clash against England’s conquerors Portugal scheduled for 5 July in Munich, a day after Germany and Italy do battle in Dortmund.

Coaches' quotes:

Carlos Alberto PARREIRA (BRA)

I’m very sad, and so are the team. Getting knocked out was a situation that we hadn’t prepared for. We started the game well, and our passing was sharp. But our attackers always found it difficult, because France, just like the other teams that we have played, got all of their men behind the ball. But we tried and we had a few chances.
The French team played with a lot of spirit. (Zinedine) Zidane is a player that we know well, one of the great players of the last decade. But our defence marked tightly, so much so that their goal came from a set-piece.
Technically, we have a very good team, very experienced, but when you don’t win the title, it’s because there has been something missing. We had some problems, and we needed a little more preparation, probably in terms of fitness and getting the team to play as a unit. I’m not worried about whether or not I’m going to carry on as coach of the Seleção.


We had an overall strategy for playing against Brazil, as well as individual plans for dealing with their players. Against a team like that, you can’t take the game to them throughout the 90 minutes, but if you sit back too much, you allow them to exert their stranglehold. So the idea was to find the right balance, which we managed to do by retaining control of the game. I wouldn’t say that we dominated, but we did keep the necessary control. That said, we suffered quite a bit late on.

In football, there’s no such thing as a team having to play against 11 reigning world champions. We went out onto the pitch tonight on equal terms. I don’t want to single out any of my lads in particular. You all seem surprised by how well Zinedine Zidane played, but that’s just what you get with Zizou! I could mention any of the 14 players who did a job for us tonight, and even those who stayed on the bench made contributions. As against Spain, this victory belongs to the whole squad. It wasn’t so much Zidane followed by the others, but rather Zidane together with the others.
As I’ve been telling you for quite some time now, our target is to be in Berlin on 9 July. But rather than taking the next game for granted, I’m just saying that we’ve reached another stage this evening, an exciting stage, but nothing more. We are happy, but we won’t be telling ourselves that the semi-final is enough and we’ve done what we set out to do at the World Cup. We’re going to fight until the end and see where that takes us. Two years ago, we set out with the aim of putting the smile back on the faces of our supporters. I believe we’ve done a pretty good job of that, but I can assure you that there’s more to come!

Players' Quotes:

Zinedine Zidane (FRA), Man of the match

We kept things tight and closed ranks. Physically, we were able to keep going until the end and we've come away with a deserved victory once again. Now, we're going to try and win that Trophy. I've got no intention of stopping now. It's just so amazing!


I’m very sad, very disappointed with this defeat. We had plans to go much further, but it didn’t happen. France were the better team, and when all’s said and done, that’s football. We are proud of how we battled and what we sacrificed in order to get this far. France didn’t surprise us. We knew that they were a great team, and they showed that. They played great football, intelligent football that got the better of us.

Thierry HENRY (FRA)

We deserved to win. Our tactics came off. It’s risky to say that we are the favourites against Portugal. The most important thing is to take one step at a time. As regards the goal, it was just a case of being in the right place at the right time. My job was just to put the ball in the back of the net. But the goal isn’t the most important thing for me. The most important thing is that we showed that we can play as a team. To play against Brazil, you mustn’t respect them too much, otherwise they can finish you off.


There’s no point looking around for excuses. France played better than us. They didn’t have a lot of chances, and their goal came from a set-piece, but once they scored it was very difficult for us to turn it round. I think that the team as a whole didn’t play well tonight. Robinho made a difference when he came on, and he tried to give us a lift, but now we have to accept the criticism and start to get the young players ready for the next World Cup. We didn’t play as Brazil can.

Patrick VIEIRA (FRA)

Our players were well spread out across the pitch, and we filled every gap. We played very well. The game was testament to the hard work we have put in up to now. We’re getting better with each match, just as in 1998. Now we are really up for it. Portugal will be difficult opponents, but we know that we can beat them.


I’m just lost in the moment. I don’t like making plans for the future. I’m sad because we made a lot of people cry, including my family. Now it’s time to think about our club teams again in order to carry on doing well for the national team. I don’t think that there was any problem with our preparation. France were the better team, end of story. It hurts more when you don’t play. I’m much more nervous than when I’m playing.

In conclusion:

France fully merited this victory, orchestrated by the superb Zidane, whose performance was well worthy of the Budweiser Man of the Match Award. The 34-year-old was simply sensational in this match, supplying an inch-perfect cross for Henry’s goal and showing a superb range of passing and skills throughout the 90 minutes.

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