Once again, the Confederations Cup refused
to let us down. A tournament containing more than enough drama to whet
appetites for the World Cup a year hence excelled itself as Brazil
reached the final at the expense of the home nation. The latter of two
goals from Adriano, taking the Internazionale striker's total here to
three in four matches, secured a date in Frankfurt on Wednesday with
either Argentina, who gave Brazil a sound beating in a World Cup
qualifier in Buenos Aires recently, or Mexico.
Adriano proved too good for both Robert Huth and Jens Lehmann a quarter
of an hour from the end. At last the German crowd were silenced. But
they had been given plenty of encouragement by Jurgen Klinsmann's team,
who, though scarcely the most formidable defensively, have a refreshing
willingness to attack. The partnership of Kevin Kuranyi and Lukas
Podolski, with Michael Ballack just behind, could ripen nicely in the
next 12 months, while Sebastian Deisler in midfield and Arne Friedrich
at right-back are developing into major influences.
Brazil, as usual, have class to spare and the problem of how to fit both
Adriano and Ronaldo (missing here) into the attack without overlooking
young Robinho will test their coach, Carlos Alberto Parreira. By and
large, though, Parreira will concentrate on team structure, as in 1994
when he guided Brazil to the world title in the United States.
They have since, of course, taken it for a fifth time - compared with
Germany's trio of triumphs - and for this meeting of football's most
successful countries only five players who had started the most recent
World Cup final were in the original 22. Although, contrary to
supposition, not all Brazilians learn the game by strolling down from
the favelas to play on Copacabana beach, the weather did offer a
notional advantage to the world champions.
Yet Germany were often the more incisive side and hardly deserved to
trail midway through the first half, albeit for just a minute. It
happened after they gave away a free-kick 40 yards out and Adriano shot;
fortune favouring him as the ball deflected off Fabian Ernst's shoulder,
leaving Lehmann flat-footed.
Germany equalised when a corner by Deisler prompted the customary
team-wrestling contest, amid which Podolski steered a header out of
Dida's reach. Brazil were second best for a spell, but as half-time
approached they regained the lead through the first of two penalties in
As Adriano burst into the area, Huth lumbered. He first tugged at the
Brazilian, then tried to shove him off balance and finally resorted to
tripping him - and still appeared surprised when the Chilean referee,
Carlos Chandia, pointed to the spot! Although a couple of Germans
actually protested, Ronaldino whipped the ball past Lehmann to end that
particular argument, only for another to begin within minutes. And now
the action switched to the other end.
Again Huth was involved. Again he had little to offer but barely
concealed physical aggression. He went forward for a corner and thrust
an elbow into the Adam's apple of a remarkably phlegmatic Roque Junior.
Huth, moreover, kept his forearm high, pushing Roque Junior back while
employing his other arm to tug at his adversary's shirt. But the referee
and his assistant had spotted a sly trip by Emerson on Ballack just
before, so this time he ruled in Germany's favour and Ballack stepped up
to bring the hosts level.
Brazil had the better of the second half and, shortly after Lucio headed
too high, booked their ticket for Frankfurt. Roque Junior forced the
ball upfield, Robinho flicked it on and Adriano's clever shuffle took
Huth out of the game before a low drive whistled across Lehmann.