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Saturday, July 01, 2006

Fifa world cup 2006 Brazil out to redress balance

Fifa world cup 2006 : Brazil out to redress balance

For many Brazilians, Saturday's eagerly-anticipated quarter-final against France carries an extra edge. The Seleção's 3-0 defeat in the 1998 FIFA World Cup Final against Aime Jacquet's French side still lingers in the collective memory, meaning media and fans alike have a score to settle.

Judging by the rhetoric coming from the Brazil camp this week, however, nothing could be further from the minds of the players. Revenge does not enter into it. Instead in a game that will pit club colleagues against one another, there will be mutual respect and friendship between players on both sides.

As Brazil captain Cafu explained, the reigning champions simply cannot afford to approach the match with thoughts of getting their own back. "It's not revenge, it's a game. If we carry that feeling into the match, it won't be good for us," he said.

Cafu was Brazil's starting right-back on that fateful night of 12 July 1998 but he added that every player in the squad was focusing solely on the present: "That sense of revenge comes from outside the squad. As far as we are concerned, I’m sure that no player has spoken about it. We mustn't let it affect us."

Past encounters
When Brazil and France met in Saint-Denis, they had already played each other twice in the final stages of the FIFA World Cup, winning one game apiece. France's 3-0 Final win gives them a slight historical edge over the five-times champions going into this latest match.

The nations' first encounter was in the semi-finals of the 1958 finals in Sweden. That was the year the great Pele announced his arrival on the world stage, and against the French, the boy who was to be king did not disappoint. He struck a hat-trick as the South Americans ran away with the game, winning by five goals to two, and booking their place in the Final. There they play their Swedish hosts and defeated them by the same scoreline.

Fast forward 28 years to 1986. In Mexico, the two teams were among the favourites for the Trophy when they met at the quarter-final stage in the heat of Guadalajara. The game finished 1-1 after extra time, French keeper Joel Bats making a crucial penalty save from Brazil’s creative inspiration, Zico.

A penalty shoot-out ensued, which France won 4-3, but not without controversy. Les Bleus' hard-working midfielder Luis Fernandez fired his spot-kick against a post but then saw his effort roll into the Brazilian net off the back of the unfortunate goalkeeper, Carlos.

Twelve veterans of '98
The main difference between Saturday’s match and those that went before is that both sides will field players with first-hand experience of the countries' last meeting. No fewer than 12 players, six from each side, took part in that 1998 Final.

On the Brazilian side, Cafu, Roberto Carlos and Ronaldo started the match, while Dida, Emerson and Ze Roberto were on the bench. The Seleção’s coach in France, meanwhile, was Mario Zagallo, currently assistant to Carlos Alberto Parreira. Of Raymond Domenech’s France squad, Fabien Barthez, Zinedine Zidane and Lilian Thuram were in the starting XI, while Thierry Henry, David Trezeguet and Patrick Vieira took their place among the substitutes, with Vieira coming on for the last 15 minutes of the game.

After ’98, we won the World Cup in 2002, the Confederations Cup in 2004, we won our qualifying group, and the Copa America in 2004," said the Real Madrid player. "That helps us to forget what happened in 1998."

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