This is the 18th in a weekly series of World Cup history lessons brought to you by our very own “Professor” Guy Bailey. He is not actually a professor; the only professor on staff is Jamie Clary. Well, sort of.
The 2006 World Cup
The 2006 World Cup was held in a united Germany for the first time (1974 was held in West Germany) after the beat off competition from Morocco, England and South Africa for the honour. The shockwaves were felt particularly in South Africa after FIFA President Sepp Blatter had made great store by promising to bring the competition to the continent but they consoled themselves with being awarded the Championships in 2010.
A record eight nations took part in the Finals for the first time – Angola, Ivory Coast, Czech Republic, Ghana, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Ukraine and Serbia & Montenegro. The format for the competition remained the same although FIFA invoked a byzantine method of separating teams level on points and goal difference; it went to head-to-head records between the tied teams, goals scored, goal difference and finally decided on the number of letters in the head coaches maternal grandmothers first name with the value of the name in Scrabble as a tie-breaker.
Group A saw the hosts paired with their dear old friends Poland, Costa Rica and Ecuador and started with a bang as Germany beat the plucky underdogs 4-2. Ecuador beat Poland then Costa Rica in their second match as Germany did Poland and Germany clinched the group with a 3-0 stomping of the relaxed Ecuadorians in the final match. Poland saving face with a 2-1 win over Costa Rica but not enough to go through.
Group B saw England entertain Sweden, Paraguay and previous colony Trinidad and Tobago. England took the early advantage with a 1-0 victory over Paraguay while Sweden labored in a goalless draw against the Trinidadians. Sweden recovered to beat Paraguay 1-0 in the second match whilst a lackluster England left it late to overcome Trinidad 2-0 and secure their place in the knock out stages. A 2-2 draw between Sven’s team and his homeland saw England topping the group and Sweden second in a reversal of the 2002 Group positions whilst Paraguay beat Trinidad 2-0 in the dead rubber.
Group C saw an exciting Argentina beat debutants Ivory Coast 2-1 while Holland had enough for the Serbs and Montenegrins winning 1-0. Argentina turned it on against the former Yugoslavs with a 6-0 demolition and Holland eliminated the Elephants with a 2-1 win. The final match between the Ivory Coast and Serbia & Montenegro was exciting and ended 3-2 to the Africans which was also the last match ever played by Serbia & Montenegro before the country dissolved later that year. Serbia would qualify for the 2010 World Cup in their own right whilst a cagey, goalless draw between Holland and Argentina saw the South Americans through as winners, the Dutch second.
Group D saw the dangerous Portuguese paired with their former colony Angola, Iran and Mexico. Master beat former servant 1-0 in the first match between the two and Mexico sorted Iran out 3-1 to lead the group. They stumbled to a goalless statement with the Angolans in the second match while Portugal sealed their progress with a 2-0 win over the Iranians and took maximum points with a 2-1 win over Mexico in the final match, Iran and Angola drawing 1-1.
Group E saw Italy play the Czech Republic, Ghana and United States in a tough round-robin. The Czechs stunning the US 3-0 in the first match including a screamer from Tomas Rosicky later of Arsenal, while Italy eased past a physical Ghana 2-0. Ghana then turned the group upside down by beating the Czechs 2-0 and the US upped their own game significantly to hold Italy 1-1. They were then shocked themselves as Ghana kept up the momentum with a 2-1 win to seal second place and Italy eliminated the Czechs with a 2-0 win of their own.
Group F of Death saw reigning champions Brazil with Japan, Croatia and country of Croatian Diaspora Australia. The Aussies beat Japan 3-1 in the first game to improve their never knowingly undersold confidence and a slow starting Brazil had to edge past the declining Croatians 1-0. Croatia were held 0-0 by the Japanese in the second match whilst Brazil sealed their progress with a 2-0 win over the Socceroos – the worst nickname in International Football. Brazil enjoyed a valedictory 4-1 win over Japan in the final match whilst Australia’s 2-2 draw with Croatia saw Australia through at the Croats expense.
Group G saw France face Togo, South Korea and Switzerland, the two Franco nations drawing 0-0 in their openers as South Korea, enjoying their improved reputation from four years previously topped the group after a 2-1 win over new boys Togo. They followed that up with an impressive 1-1 draw with France whilst Switzerland got their game faces back with a 2-0 win over the Togolese. France completed the sweep, 2-0 over Togo in the final game but were pushed into second as the Swiss beat South Korea to win the group and eliminate the pride of the peninsula.
Group H saw the rapidly improving Spanish paired with Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and the unpredictable Ukraine. The first match saw Spain lay down their marker as they crushed Shevchenko and all 4-0, Tunisia and Saudi drawing 2-2 in their match. Ukraine then went down the food chain, taking it out on Saudi also by 4-0 to give themselves a chance in the final match whilst Spain booked their second round place with a 3-1 over the Tunisians. They wrapped up a perfect record with a 1-0 win over Saudi in the final match and a late Shevchenko penalty took Ukraine through to their first knock out phase with a 1-0 win over the unlucky North Africans.
The second phase began brightly for the hosts as they took an early 2-0 lead against Sweden, two for Podolski, the Pole who opted to play for his adopted country rather than his birth land. The score remained 2-0. Mexico had their eyes on glory when they took the lead against Argentina until a Crespo equalizer took the match into extra time. Rodriguez putting the blue and whites through and maintaining Mexico’s dismal record away from their own continent. A nervy England had to rely on a Beckham free kick to get past Ecuador and a footballing Fight Club was created as Portugal edged past Holland 1-0 with a goal from Maniche accompanying a record 16 yellow cards and four reds. Australia screamed blue murder when a late Totti penalty (five minutes into injury time) eliminated them and a somnambulists dream encounter between Switzerland and Ukraine disappointed nobody when the Ukraine won 3-0 on penalties after the longest, scoreless 120 minutes of your life crawled by.
Brazil began to illuminate with a 3-0 win over Ghana and an exciting tussle between Spain and France saw Les Blues come from a goal down to win 3-1, Zidane’s goal in extra time signaling his intent that he had woken up and was intent on making a mark on his last World Cup.
The Quarter Finals began with a 1-1 draw between the hosts and Argentina, Germany equalizing late to force penalties which they inevitably won 4-2. Italy enjoyed their 3-0 stroll against the Ukraine and settled down to watch another feisty match with Portugal, this time drawing 0-0 with England although not before Ronaldo earned the opprobrium of a nation with a knowing wink after teammate and friend Wayne Rooney saw red for a reckless challenge. England’s bête noir, penalties saw them out at this stage again, 3-1, and the end of Sven Goran Eriksson’s controversial reign. The final quarter gave Brazil chance for revenge against France but the Indian sign held as Zidane ran the show against a lackluster Brazil, 1-0 the final score through Henry but a repeat of the 3-0 scoreline from 1998 would have been a better reflection of the match.
The first of the two all-European semi finals saw Italy stun the hosts in extra time with two late late goals from Grosso and a breakaway from Del Piero one minute before and one minute after the end of time to bring Italy to their latest final. The other match saw Cristiano Ronaldo get his comeuppance in style as France beat Portugal 1-0, a Zidane penalty marking another man-of-the-match display from a rampant Zizou.
Germany bowed out successfully in front of their fans with a 3-1 win in the playoff over Portugal, who enjoyed their best tournament since 1966.
The Final between Italy and France exploded into life in the 7th minute when Zidane scored in his second World Cup Final with another penalty before The Matrix, Marco Matterazzi equalized on 19 minutes. These two would have a profound effect on the outcome of the match later on. Luca Toni could feel hard done by as he hit the bar on 35 minutes and saw a header disallowed late on. France themselves felt they should have had a second penalty when Malouda was brought down by Zambrotta but the match went into extra time. Zidane thought he had won it for France with a bullet header which Buffon amazingly tipped over before the moment he will forever be remembered for. Matterazzi strolled past him and said something untoward which caused the volatile Frenchmen to explode and butt Matterazzi in the chest. The referee had no alternative but to send off the most influential player in world football moments before the penalty shoot out which he would have taken part in.
David Trezeguet, the man whose 2000 Golden Goal against Italy had given France the European Championship in addition to their World crown was the unfortunate player who missed his penalty and Grosso made the final score 5-3 on pens to seal the first World Championship since 1994 to be decided in this way. Italy claimed their fourth World Title, their first in 24 years. Miroslav Klose, the German, won the Golden Boot with a lower-than-average five goals and as a consolation prize Zinedine Zidane was awarded the Golden Ball for being the best player at the tournament.
Guy Bailey is a senior writer for The Yanks Are Coming. He can be reached at email@example.com.