Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Germany Will Kick Sand in Brazil's Face

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Germany Will Kick Sand in Brazil's Face

Article excerpt

Byline: MICHAEL HART

THE memory of England's underachieving performance against Brazil remains fresh enough for me to believe that it will be German efficiency and discipline that emerges triumphant when football's two great powers meet in the World Cup Final in Yokohama on Sunday.

Having studied the tapes showing how England squandered a one-goal lead, spurning the opportunity to salvage their pride against 10 men, German coach Rudi Voller is convinced that his men have the mental and physical attributes necessary to succeed where David Beckham and the boys failed miserably.

What is hard to stomach is that only nine months ago England destroyed the myth of German invincibility in Munich. "We will be back," promised Voller after their 5-1 defeat. He was right.

They are not the Germany of old any more than this Brazilian team are equipped to emulate the glorious feats of their predecessors such as Pele, Tostao, Rivelino and Garrincha.

But Brazil have a jewel in their present collection. Ronaldo, the vulnerable, unpredictable, 25-year-old attacking genius, is the one man who could undermine Voller's best-laid plans.

Unlike in France four years ago, when the pressure of leading the attack is thought to have produced a fit in his hotel room shortly before the Final, Ronaldo looks sleek, confident and relaxed.

With six goals in six matches, he is the tournament's leading marksman and could be the first Brazilian to finish as top goalscorer since Garrincha and Vava shared the distinction in Chile in 1962.

The great Pele, never slow to offer an opinion, has banged the drum for Ronaldo with increasing enthusiasm as his goals helped propel Brazil past Turkey (twice), China, Costa Rica, Belgium and England.

Pele said: "The return of Ronaldo from injury was good news for Brazil.

Everyone knows how highly I rate him but I was beginning to think that he was running out of time. He played only a handful of games for Inter Milan in Italy last season.

"But he's playing now and he's full of confidence. This is the crucial factor for any striker. …

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