LiveBlog: Brazil vs. France
South America fails once again on European soil. Brazil were outplayed by France tonight in a very entertaining game and France progresses on Henry’s goal to face Portugal in the semi-finals.
Final: Brazil 0-1 France
Full-time: Brazil is out of the World Cup. France has produced a stellar display of rock-solid defense and sparkling Zidane to beat the World Champions. All of Germany is cheering as they’d much rather face France than Brazil. Based on their performance tonight, France can lay just as much a claim to tournament favourites as anyone. They allowed Brazil no shots on goal for 90 minutes, created chances and ran Brazil ragged chasing Ribery around the field. They will now take on Portugal in the semis.
90:45 – Cicinho drives a cross in from the right and Ze Bob skims it off the inside of his boot but it is not on goal. Good chance.
90:00 – Saha shoots after being released by Zidane. Great save by Dida. At the other end Ronaldo has a great shot saved by Barthez. It only took 90 minutes but Brazil finally have a shot on goal for the game.
88:46 – Ronaldinho’s free kick is well struck but just over the bar. Thuram was booked for Ronaldo’s dive. That’s too bad.
87:22 – Ronaldo with a massive DIVE over Thuram’s outstretched leg. Nowhere near being touched but the ref fell for it. Brazil free kick right on the edge of the French area in front. I hope they don’t score like this.
85:12 – Henry leaves the field and Louis Saha takes his place. Saha’s job will be to hold the ball up and get kicked in the corner. French fans singing loud now.
84:33 – Ronaldo pops up to shoot from 19 yards out. His shot is wide and he kicks the French defender’s foot on his follow through. Bit ginger afterwards.
83:10 – More pressure from Brazil now, laying seige to the French defensive third. France has been very quiet on the break since Ribery, Fraternitie, Equalitie left the game.
81:45 – Malouda comes out of the game and Sylvain Wiltord comes in. Not really a defensive move by France. They may not be settling for the one goal.
80:22 – As I bag the man, Ronaldinho plays a good header into the middle of the French box. Robinho controls with one touch and blasts his shot high over the bar. Needed a better finish and it was a good chance. Wake up call for France.
79:20 – Amazingly, Brazil still without a shot on target all game. Barthez is having a picnic in goal for France. Ronaldo has gone missing again and I can’t remember the last time Ronaldinho touched the ball.
78:04 – Robinho comes into the game, replacing Kaka. What a bench Brazil has at their disposal. Robinho will have to breathe some life into Brazil’s attack. It has stalled completely.
75:47 – Cafu comes off and Cicinho replaces him. Is this the last we’ll see of Cafu in World Cups? Ribery comes out of the game too. Gouvou takes his place. Ribery has been France’s best player after Zidane. I would have liked to have seen him finish the game if he had any gas left in the tank. He was terrorizing Brazil.
74:38 – Nice one-two between Ribery and Henry down the right wing. Lucio earns himself a yellow card after going through Henry late. Lucio’s got the record and now it doesn’t matter who he kicks and when.
73:22 – Sagnol gets a yellow card for hammering into Kaka and blocking his run.
72:03 – Zidane showing he’s got life in his old legs with a fancy spin move to beat a tackle before playing on. He wants the ball tonight and France is playing all the better for it.
71:37 – Ribery again beats a couple players, leaving them on the deck in his wake. He passes to Henry who shapes to shoot. Dida is just off his line, but Henry’s eventual shot is right at him.
70:00 – Ronaldo goes down in the box and is lucky not to get a yellow card for diving. Perhaps because he has one already. France breaks AGAIN and Dida makes a fantastic diving save at Ribery’s feet right on the edge of the 18 yard box. Brazil have no answer for him tonight.
68:42 – Ribery’s speed causing Brazil problems. He gets the ball after France clears the area and before Brazil knows it the ball is at halfway and they’re breaking again. The answer is to foul and they do so on Vieira after Ribery plays him in.
67:08 – Game opening up now. France’s corner is cleared and Brazil breaks quickly through Adriano. The ball comes to Cafu and Vieira crunches him in a great tackle that earns a goal kick and Brazil gets nothing.
65:45 – Brazil with some nice passing but the move breaks down after the last pass is deflected off Gallas and safely to Barthez. Kaka involved and Adriano too.
63:48 – France breaks with speed and Ribery, Fraternitie, Equalitie clashes with Bob Carlos. Replay shows Ribery falling on Carlos, Carlos elbowing Ribery and Ribery retaliating by kicking Bob Carlos in the butt. Ref waves play on and drama is averted.
62:52 – Juninho comes out of the game and Brazil chases the goal with Adriano taking his place.
61:01 – Great chance for France! Ribery beats Cafu in the corner and lays the ball across the face of goal. Juan deflects it goalwards and puts Dida out of the action. The ball dribbles along the goal line but trickles wide out of reach of Zidane who was trying to get his old legs in there.
59:43 – There will be inquests as to what happened in Brazil’s defense on the goal. Henry was completely unmarked at the back post. Not one yellow shirt within 5 yards of him. How do you let a player like Henry run free?
58:06 – Great for the game. Brazil has to attack for the next half hour. How soon will desparation set in? France giving the critics a show. Brazil needing to dig deep.
56:04 – GGGGGOOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLL!!!!!!! Henry scores from a Zidane free kick from wide on the wing. Henry drifts to the far post and no one picks him up. Totally unmarked and onside for the first time tonight.
53:33 – Henry is called offside after he puts the ball in the back of the net. He was onside when the free kick was knocked in, but after it came off the head of a team-mate, Henry was stranded in an offside position despite his protests. He needs to both look at the replay and study the rule book.
52:10 – Henry reels in a ball into the box. He needs just a solid back heel and Vieira has a clear shot from 10 yards. Not quite enough juice on it though and Brazil clears.
50:31 – Kaka knocks over Zidane. Respect your elders, young man.
47:58 – Barthez has an attack of the crazies. First his tries to kick clear a ball that he should have caught. Then he comes a country mile for a ball, catches it then runs into his own player and drops the ball. Luckily for France, his mistakes are not punished by Brazil.
47:15 – Ronaldinho has ditched the headband for the second half. Wonder if that was his decision or FIFA’s.
45:40 – Vieira has the first chance of the second half and it was a good one. A free kick knocked into the area and he gets a clear header that is just winde. Henry is upset because he was right behind him and probably had a better leap.
Half-time Highlights: Big talking point at the half was the tackle from behind by Juan. The referee was right in not pulling out the red. There was another defender on Vieira’s shoulder. It was a bad foul but the Frenchman was not clear in on goal.
The handball by Ronaldo, however, is a different matter. The ref kinda pussed out on that one. If he’s going to give the free kick then it has to be a penalty. Where the ref positioned the wall, it was well inside the penalty area and Ronaldo was in the box when he was judged to have handled it. Brazil survives and probably deservedly so. It would have been a harsh penalty.
Half-time: No goals at the half but a much more entertaining game so far than the earlier quarter-final. Zidane has been everywhere for France and has dominated this game like he did in ‘98. France has been the more adventurous team and created better chances, although neither team has really tested either ‘keeper. The best chance of the game would have fallen to Vieira if not for Juan’s professional foul. Zidane was heavily involved in that build-up, beating a couple players before laying a perfect pass into Vieira’s path.
Brazil have shown flashes of skill and speed but have yet to really crack France’s very organized defense. Saginol has been equal to anything Bob Carlos has thrown at him. Abidal has had more work to do and had more trouble with Cafu, but when the first line fails, Gallas and Thuram have been rocks.
45+: Chaos reigns in the Brazil penalty area. Zidane’s free kick hits the wall which is every Brazil player. The ball is eventually cleared and the ref blows for half time. Ronaldo is unhappy about the card and lets the ref know all about it.
45:48 – Zidane stands over the ball of the free kick that Vieira earned. Henry hammers it into the wall and Ronaldo is judged to have handled it even though he could not have known much about it. It’s outside the box but only just. Ronaldo gets a yellow card for that and I think that’s harsh. Brazil lucky not to give away a penalty there.
43:40 -Now we see some spark from Brazil. Cafu is released by Ronaldinho and his cross is low and hard but cleared by France who break down the other end. Zidane plays Vieira into space and he charges thourhg the middle Juan hacks him down and is lucky he’s not the last defender. Ref pulls out the yellow and Juan is suspended should Brazil progress.
41:33 – France enjoying the majority of possession and frankly looking the better for it, doing more with it. Brazil not out of it by any means, but they have not controlled the ball and not done much with it. Ronaldo has barely been seen since his early header and Juninho is yet to stamp his authority on the game.
40:40 – Some wonderful close in passing by France between Zidane, Ribery and Henry. Lovely to watch even though it goes nowhere in the end.
38:29 – Apologies for the delay on the LiveBlog. Things are running a little slow here in Germany. Unlike the game we’re watching which has some excellent touches of speed.
37:08 – Cafu in the thick of it again, fouling Malouda about 30 yards out at the edge of the box. Zidane plays it in and Malouda gets a goalward header. It’s just over though.
36:23 – Zidane controlling things for the French. A slide rule pass to release Abidal down the left, but he can’t control and keep his footing and Cafu gets a toe in to clear for Brazil.
34:49 – Some scrappy play in midfield sees possession change hands (feet) a couple times in quick succession.
32:32 – Ribery on a run inside gets checked by Silva. Zidance plays it into the box but Brazil clears easily.
30:06 – France earn a corner. Sagnol tries to cross but is defelected for another corner. Malouda takes and Dida punches clear. As the ball is played back in Henry is again offside. Does he look at the line?
28:55 – Ronaldo coming very deep to get the ball, looking very fancy in his yellow boots tonight. He plays a one-two with Ronaldinho but his shot is blocked on the French 18 yard box.
27:34 – Nice work by the French down the left side this time. Zidane’s nice touch at halfway to Abidal to Malouda who crosses and Bob Carlos has a flying header to knock it out for a corner.
26:05 – Zidane’s free kick from Lucio’s foul is hit with pace but is high over the bar and no trouble for Dida.
25:28 – Lucio commits a foul and the new record is set. 4 games, 25 minutes. Who can match that?
25:10 – Ribery, Fraternitie, Equalitie has been quiet so far and the ball has been on that side plenty for the French.
24:01 – Cafu gets a yellow card for tugging at the jersey of Malouda. Good call by the ref.
23:04 – Lucio has done it! Well done, young man. He hasn’t committed a foul in 4 games and 23 minutes and counting.
21:15 – Lucio in the thick of things in defense. He’s not pulling out of tackles and willing to kick Vieira in the penalty area (he got the ball too). Don’t think he’s thinking of what’s at stake here.
20:22 – Lucio with a strong run forward, linking up with Kaka. Stay out of trouble Lucio, I want you to get that record.
18:55 – France enjoying some good possession down the right side. The cross comes in but surprise, surprise, Henry is called offside.
17:04 – Lucio is poised to become to player who has the longest time before commiting a foul in the World Cup. If he makes it to the 23 minute mark, he’ll have the record. He’ll take the mantle from Carlos Gamarra of Paraguay.
15:50 – An almost identical ball from Ronaldinho is looking for Kaka down the same wing but it is just too hard for him and France have a goal kick.
14:42 – Ronaldinho shows some class with a diagonal ball to Ronaldo who had drifted wide. His cross is low and hard but no support to finish the nice move.
13:30 – Scrambles in the Brazil 18 yard box. Tackles flying in but all ball. France wins a corner. The ball breaks out to Ribery and he blasts high over the bar.
11:39 – At the other end, Henry has a shot from outside the area that Lucio blocks with his face. He’s a bit groggy and gets some attention. France plays on against a ten man Brazil and Henry has a shot blocked from 8 yards.
10:40 – Free kick for Brazil is bent in by Ronaldinho. Ronaldo at the back post gets a clear header but can’t do much with it and it goes wide.
07:34 – Already more offside calls in the first minutes of this game than we saw in all of the England-Portugal game. This game is being played at a much higher tempo too.
06:38 – Zidane getting stuck in early, throwing his body into tackles. Looks like he came to play today.
04:42 – Another free kick for Brazil. Juan is clear and tries to back heel it into the goal. He’s called for offside and the shot goes high anyway.
02:47 – Ronaldinho sporting an ‘R’ headband. Since when was it all about him? Is he starting to believe his own hype? He wins a free kick 25 yards out.
01:05 – Bright start for France. Some nice touches for Zidane early on. All the big names of football are in the crowd tonight. Platini, Joao Havelange, the ever-present Beckenbauer. Even Jacques Chirac made the trip over to see his team.
00:01 – We’re off! Replay of the ‘98 final and let’s hope we see as many goals tonight. The winner faces Portugal in the semis. Brazil carrying only one yellow card (Juan), France with three. Zidane, Ribery and Vieira are France’s backbone and to lose any of them should France progress would be a huge blow.
5 minutes to go: France in white tonight. Not sure why they could not play in blue, unless they’re feeling lucky in white. More messages from the captains to stamp out racism in the game before the national anthems.
10 minutes to go: Some match-ups this game that could prove critical in how the teams do tonight:
Ribery vs Cafu/Bob Carlos – A couple of ageing players up against a youngster who’s confidence is growing with every game. Both Brazil’s wing-backs still have some spring in their step but as the game goes on Ribery’s speed may create some opportunities out wide.
Ronaldinho vs whoever marks him – With some more freedom in a wider and more forward role, Ronaldinho might just be about to have the game we’ve been waiting to see from him ever since those Nike ads starting making the rounds. I don’t expect France to man-mark him, but I imagine Vieira will not be far from his side for most of the night.
20 minutes to go: Over on the France team blog, remembering the previous World Cup meetings between these two teams we have some entertaining games. France has won the last two encounters. I just hope we don’t go to penalties again. I don’t think my heart, or my fingers, can take any more.
30 minutes to go: Interesting news on the Brazil line-up over on the Brazil team blog. Looks like Ronaldinho will be playing in a more forward role, while Juninho Pernambucano will take on the midfield distribution. It seems like a more attacking formation, with more creativity. Juninho has impressed me with what I’ve seen of him and I’m looking forward to seeing him start.
Pre-game: Who do you think will win?
France has surprised a lot of folks, getting this far in a tournament with an ‘old’ squad. Probably most French supporters are only now just getting behind their team after their late heroics against Spain. With Zidane enjoying some good touches on the ball, Ribery causing problems out wide, and Henry constantly testing the offside trap (and doing some great acting work on the side), France have shown they can score if you’re not paying attention.
Against Ghana, Brazil defended like schoolboys. No one was making a challenge and Ghana was able to string short passes together on the edge of the area that would have severely punished the World Champions if Ghana could finish. If they do so again today, France will tear them apart. Brazil seem to have been going through the tournament doing just enough to win. When Japan scored first against them, it was like waking a sleeping lion. They blasted 4 past the hapless Japanese. One or two goals will not be enough for a comfortable win tonight.
My prediction: Brazil 3-2 France.