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Brazil-Germany: Heavyweight clash

Ronaldo steers Brazil into the final
Ronaldo steers Brazil into the final  


YOKOHAMA, Japan (CNN) -- Brazil and Germany -- undisputed giants of the World Cup -- meet for the first time in Sunday's final for what promises to be a showdown of contrasting styles.

Brazil's free-flowing high-scoring attack, led by Ronaldo, Rivaldo and Ronaldinho, come up against a German side that has conceded just one goal, winning their last three games 1-0.

After a tournament of upsets, the match in Yokohama, Japan, is between the two most successful teams in World Cup history.

Brazil have won the tournament four times and are in their third consecutive final. Germany are three-times champions.

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Rudi Voeller's men have defied the pundits and surprised their fans. After having to play off against Ukraine to make the finals, they have failed to hit top form but have ground out victories, led from the back by their 33-year-old captain and goalkeeper, Oliver Kahn of Bayern Munich.

"I have a feeling we are going to be world champions, I can't really explain why," said Kahn. "Brazil are probably the best team in the world in terms of individual players. But the team with the most gifted players do not always win."

Miroslav Klose is Germany's leading scorer with five, but three of those came in one match against the desperate Saudis.

Crucially, they go into Sunday's final without leading midfielder Michael Ballack, whose yellow card in the semifinal against co-hosts South Korea minutes before he scored the winner, meant a suspension. (Full story)

Brazil on the other hand welcome back their third R, Ronaldinho, who sat out the semifinal after being sent off against England.

He will resume a devastating partnership with Ronaldo, the tournament's top scorer with six, and Rivaldo, who has five having scored in every game up until the semifinal.

Brazil have swept their way to the final with some stunning goals, including Ronaldo's brilliant semifinal winner against Turkey. (Full story)

Kahn: Out to stop the 3Rs
Kahn: Out to stop the 3Rs  

Ronaldo is back to his best and the tournament has been a personal triumph for a striker who has battled back from a string of injuries since his unhappy appearance in the final at France 98.

He has also repaid the faith of coach Luis Felipe Scolari who was condemned by fans for leaving veteran striker Romario at home.

But "Big Phil" knows nothing short of winning the World Cup will satisfy a nation where football is a source of immense unity and pride.

"Germany is a traditional team, cold, calculating. We respect them deeply," he said.

Another man on the verge of history is Brazil captain Cafu, who will be the first player to appear in three finals.

With 70,000 fans in the stadium and a TV audience predicted to top one billion, the pressure is also on the referee, Italian Pierluigi Collina.

In a tournament marred by poor decisions and angry recriminations, the 42-year-old accountant has a chance to restore the fans' faith in officials. (Full story)

"We try to do our best, absolutely we try to do our best. Sometimes it is not enough, but it is the same thing for players," Collina told The Associated Press.

"I try to keep my feet on the ground, but it is very difficult. I have refereed a lot of matches in my career, but the World Cup final is something totally different from all the other things."





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