Last Updated 06 | 06 | 2014 at 08:44

Sport

The 18th World Cup Edition - Germany 2006

Article By:
Pierre Sciberras

The quadrennial international football world championship tournament. It was held from 9 June to 9 July 2006 in Germany, which won the right to host the event in July 2000. Teams representing 198 national football associations from all six populated continents participated in the qualification process which began in September 2003. Thirty-one teams qualified from this process, along with the host nation, Germany, for the finals tournament.

Italy won the tournament, claiming their fourth World Cup title. They defeated France 5–3 in a penalty shootout in the final, after extra time had finished in a 1–1 draw. Germany defeated Portugal 3–1 to finish in third place.

The 2006 World Cup stands as one of the most watched events in television history, garnering an estimated 26.29 billion non-unique viewers, compiled over the course of the tournament. The final attracted an estimated audience of 715.1 million people. The 2006 World Cup ranks fourth in non-unique viewers, behind the World Cup in 1994, 2002, and 1990. As the winner, Italy represented the World in the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup.

The vote to choose the hosts of the 2006 tournament was held in July 2000 in Zürich, Switzerland. It involved four bidding nations after Brazil had withdrawn three days earlier: Germany, South Africa, England and Morocco. Three rounds of voting were required, each round eliminating the nation with the least votes. The first two rounds were held on 6 July 2000, and the final round was held on 7 July 2000, which Germany won over South Africa.

The success of Germany's bid was marred by a hoax bribery affair which even led to calls for a re-vote. On the night before the vote, German satirical magazine Titanic sent letters to FIFA representatives, offering joke gifts like cuckoo clocks and Black Forest ham in exchange for their vote for Germany. Oceania delegate Charlie Dempsey, who had initially backed England, had then been instructed to support South Africa following England's elimination. He abstained, citing "intolerable pressure" on the eve of the vote. Had Dempsey voted as originally instructed, the vote would have resulted with a 12–12 tie, and FIFA president Sepp Blatter, who favoured the South African bid, would have had to cast the deciding vote

198 teams attempted to qualify for the 2006 World Cup. Germany, the host nation, was granted automatic qualification, with the remaining 31 finals places divided among the continental confederations. Thirteen places were contested by UEFA teams (Europe), five by CAF teams (Africa), four by CONMEBOL teams (South America), four by AFC teams (Asia), and three by CONCACAF teams (North and Central America and Caribbean). The remaining two places were decided by playoffs between AFC and CONCACAF and between CONMEBOL and OFC (Oceania).

Eight nations qualified for the finals for the first time: Angola, Côte d'Ivoire, Czech Republic, Ghana, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Ukraine, and Serbia and Montenegro. Czech Republic and Ukraine were making their first appearance as independent nations, but had previously been represented as part of Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union respectively; Serbia and Montenegro had competed as Yugoslavia in 1998, as well as making up part of Yugoslav teams from 1930 to 1990. As of 2014, this was the last time Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Togo, Angola, Czech Republic, Poland, Ukraine and Trinidad and Tobago qualified for a FIFA World Cup finals.

Australia qualified for the first time since 1974. Among the teams who failed to qualify were 2002 third-placed team Turkey and Euro 2004 winners Greece. Additionally, Belgium failed to qualify for the first time since 1978, and Cameroon failed to qualify for the first time since 1986.

For the first time since the 1982 World Cup, all six confederations were represented at the finals tournament.

Squads for the 2006 World Cup consisted of 23 players, as in the previous tournament in 2002. Each participating national association had to confirm its 23-player squad by 15 May 2006.

The eight seeded teams for the 2006 tournament were announced on 6 December 2005. The seeds comprised Pot A in the draw. Pot B contained the unseeded qualifiers from South America, Africa and Oceania; Pot C contained eight of the nine remaining European teams, excluding Serbia and Montenegro. Pot D contained unseeded teams from the CONCACAF region and Asia. A special pot contained Serbia and Montenegro: this was done to ensure that no group contained three European teams. In the special pot, Serbia and Montenegro was drawn first, then their group was drawn from the three seeded non-European nations, Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico.

It had been predetermined that, as the host, Germany would be placed in Group A, thus being assured of the venues of their group matches in advance of the draw. FIFA had also announced in advance that Brazil (the defending champion) would be allocated to Group F.

The finals tournament of the 2006 World Cup began on 9 June. The 32 teams were divided into eight groups of four teams each, within which the teams competed in a round-robin tournament to determine which two of those four teams would advance to the sixteen-team knock-out stage, which started on 24 June. In total, 64 games were played.

Although Germany failed to win the Cup, the tournament was considered a great success for Germany in general. Germany also experienced a sudden increase in patriotic spirit with flag waving, traditionally frowned upon by German society since World War II, whenever the German team played. For the closing ceremonies, Matthias Keller composed a work performed simultaneously by the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra, the Bavarian State Orchestra and the Bavarian Radio Orchestra with conductors Christian Thielemann, Zubin Mehta, and Mariss Jansons, and soloists Diana Damrau, Plácido Domingo and Lang Lang.

Despite early success by Australia, Ecuador and Ghana, the tournament marked a return to dominance of the traditional football powers. Four years after a 2002 tournament in which teams from North America (United States), Africa (Senegal), and Asia (South Korea) made it deep into the knockout stages and Turkey finished third, all eight seeded teams progressed to the knockout stages, and none of the quarter-finalists were from outside Europe or South America. Six former champions took part in the quarter-final round, with Ukraine and Euro 2004 runners-up Portugal as the only relative outsiders. Argentina and Brazil were eliminated in the quarter-finals, leaving an all-European final four for only the fourth time (after the 1934, 1966 and 1982 tournaments).

Despite the early goals that flooded the group stages, the knock-out phase had a much lower goals per match ratio. A prime example of the dearth of goals was Portugal, which only scored in the 23rd minute of the Round of 16, and did not score again until the 88th minute of the third place play-off. No player managed to score a hat-trick in this tournament. Italy, Germany, Argentina, Brazil and France were the only teams to score more than one goal in a knockout match. Germany was one of the exceptions, tending to play an attacking style of football throughout the knock-out stage, which was reflected by the fact that they scored the most number of goals (14), with players from all three outfield positions (defence, midfield and forward) making the scoresheet.

Germany's Miroslav Klose scored 5 goals to claim the Golden Boot, the lowest total to win the prize since 1962. No other player scored more than three goals. No player from the winning Italian squad scored more than two goals, though ten different players had scored for the team, tying the record for the most goalscorers from any one team.

For the first time ever in the FIFA World Cup, the first and last goals of the tournament were scored by defenders. Philipp Lahm, the German left wingback, scored the opener against Costa Rica after only 5 minutes of the opening match. In the final, Marco Materazzi, the Italian centre back, out-jumped Patrick Vieira and headed in the last goal of the 2006 FIFA World Cup.

The tournament had a record number of yellow and red cards, breaking the previous record set by the 1998 World Cup. Players received a record-breaking 345 yellow cards and 28 red cards, with Russian referee Valentin Ivanov handing out 16 yellow and 4 red cards in the round of 16 match between Portugal and the Netherlands, in a match known as the Battle of Nuremberg. Portugal had two players suspended for each of the quarter-final and semi-final matches, respectively. FIFA President Sepp Blatter hinted that he may allow some rule changes for future tournaments so that earlier accumulated bookings will not force players to miss the final, should their teams make it that far. The tournament also saw English referee Graham Poll mistakenly hand out three yellow cards to Croatia's Josip Šimunić in their match against Australia.

The high number of yellow and red cards shown also prompted discussion about the referees. FIFA Officials and President Sepp Blatter received criticism for allegedly making rules too rigid and taking discretion away from referees.
In the opening match of the tournament, Germany and Costa Rica played a game which ended 4–2 for the host in the highest scoring opening match in the tournament's history. Germany went on to win the Group A after edging Poland and breezing past Ecuador 3–0. Despite the defeat, Ecuador had already joined the host in the Round of 16 having beaten Poland and Costa Rica 2–0 and 3–0, respectively.

In Group B, England and Sweden pushed Paraguay into third place after narrow victories over the South Americans. Trinidad and Tobago earned some international respect after a draw with Sweden in their opening game and managing to hold England scoreless for 83 minutes, until goals from Peter Crouch and Steven Gerrard sealed a 2–0 win for the Three Lions. Sweden qualified for the knockout rounds after drawing 2–2 with England to maintain their 38-year unbeaten record against them.

Both Argentina and Netherlands qualified from Group C with a game remaining, Argentina topping the group on goal difference having hammered Serbia and Montenegro 6–0 and beating Côte d'Ivoire 2–1. The Dutch picked up 1–0 and 2–1 victories over Serbia and Montenegro and Côte d'Ivoire, respectively. Côte d'Ivoire defeated Serbia and Montenegro 3–2 in their final game, in Serbia & Montenegro's last ever international before the break-up of the country.

Portugal coasted through in Group D, picking up the maximum number of points, with Mexico qualifying in second. Iran missed chances against Mexico in their opening 1–3 defeat and were eliminated in their match against Portugal. They fought hard against the Portuguese, but went down 2–0. Their last game against Angola ended in 1–1 draw. The Africans had a respectable first World Cup tournament after earning draws with Mexico (0–0) and Iran.

In Group E, Italy went through to the Round of 16 conceding just one goal (an own goal) in the group phase against the United States. The US bowed out of the tournament after disappointing results against the Czech Republic and Ghana, 0–3 and 1–2, respectively, despite a 1–1 draw (finishing with 9 vs 10 men) against Italy. Tournament debutant Ghana joined Italy in the round of 16, following victories over the Czech Republic and the United States. Daniele De Rossi was suspended for 4 games following his sending-off against the United States.

Group F included the reigning World Champions Brazil, Croatia, Japan, and Australia. Playing in their first World Cup for 32 years, Australia came from behind to defeat Japan 3–1, and, despite losing 0–2 to Brazil, a 2–2 draw with Croatia was enough to give the Australians a place in the Round of 16 in a game where two players were sent-off for second bookings and one for a third booking by English referee Graham Poll. Australia became the first Oceanian team to reach the knockout stages. The Brazilians won all three games to qualify first in the group. Their 1–0 win against Croatia was through a goal late in the first-half by Kaká. Croatia and Japan went out of the tournament without a single win.

France only managed a scoreless draw against Switzerland and a 1–1 draw against South Korea. With captain Zinedine Zidane suspended, their 2–0 win against Togo was enough for them to advance to the knockout round. They were joined by the group winners, Switzerland, who defeated South Korea 2–0, and did not concede a goal in the tournament. South Korea won their first World Cup finals match outside their own country in defeating Togo, but four points were not enough to see them through to the round of 16 (the only team for which this was the case), while Togo exited without a point.

Spain dominated Group H, picking up the maximum number of points, scoring 8 goals, and conceding only 1. Ukraine, despite being beaten 4–0 by Spain in their first World Cup game, took advantage of the weaker opponents to beat Saudi Arabia 4–0 and scrape past Tunisia 1–0 thanks to a 70th minute penalty by Andriy Shevchenko, to reach the Round of 16. Saudi Arabia and Tunisia went out of the tournament having 1 point each, thanks to a 2–2 draw against each other.

The knockout stage involved the sixteen teams that qualified from the group stage of the tournament. There were four rounds of matches, with each round eliminating half of the teams entering that round. The successive rounds were: round of 16, quarter-finals, semi-finals, and final. There was also a play-off to decide third/fourth place. For each game in the knockout stage, a draw was followed by thirty minutes of extra time (two fifteen minute halves); if scores were still level there would be a penalty shoot-out (at least five penalties each, and more if necessary) to determine who progressed to the next round. Scores after extra time are indicated by (aet), and penalty shoot-outs are indicated by (pen.).

In the second round, conceding two early goals in the first twelve minutes to Germany effectively ended the Swedes' hopes of progressing to the quarter-finals. Argentina struggled to get past Mexico until a Maxi Rodríguez goal in extra time put the Albiceleste in the quarter-finals. Australia's journey ended when Italians were awarded a controversial penalty deep into the remaining seconds of the match. The Italians had spent much of the game with only ten men on the field, following an equally controversial red card shown to centre back Marco Materazzi. In a 0–0 match, Switzerland failed to convert any of their three penalties in the penalty shoot-out against Ukraine to see them exit the competition with an unwanted new record in becoming the first team in a World Cup to fail to convert any penalties in a shootout. Their elimination also meant that they became the first nation to be eliminated from the World Cup without conceding any goals (and indeed the only nation ever to participate in a World Cup finals tournament without conceding a goal).

England struggled past Ecuador but won 1–0 thanks to a David Beckham free kick. Brazil won 3–0 against Ghana, in a game which included Ronaldo's record 15th World Cup goal. Der Spiegel reported that the match was influenced by an Asian betting syndicate. Portugal defeated the Netherlands 1–0. The only goal came courtesy of a Maniche strike in an acrimonious match, which marked a new World Cup record with 16 yellow cards and 4 players being sent off for a second bookable offence. France came from behind to defeat Spain 3–1 thanks to goals from Franck Ribéry, Patrick Vieira, and Zinedine Zidane.

Germany and Argentina ended 1–1 after extra time; the hosts edged out the Argentinians 4–2 on penalties to go through to the semifinals (this was the first time Argentina had lost a World Cup penalty shootout: up until this match, both Argentina and Germany had participated in three penalty shootouts, winning all of them). In Gelsenkirchen, when England faced Portugal, Wayne Rooney was sent off, and Portugal won the penalty shoot-out 3–1 after a 0–0 draw to reach their first World Cup semi-final since the days of Eusébio 40 years earlier, and ensure manager Luiz Felipe Scolari's third consecutive tournament quarter-final win over Sven-Göran Eriksson's England.
Italy defeated quarter-final debutants Ukraine 3–0. France eliminated Brazil 1–0 to advance into the semi-finals. Brazil only managed one shot on goal, while Zinedine Zidane's dribbling earned him Man of the Match and his free-kick to Thierry Henry resulted in the winning goal.

With Argentina and Brazil eliminated in the quarter-finals, an all-European semi-final line up was completed for only the fourth time (after the 1934, 1966 and 1982 tournaments). 

The semi-final between Germany and Italy produced an extra time period that went scoreless until the 118th minute, when Italy scored twice through Fabio Grosso and Alessandro Del Piero, putting an end to Germany's undefeated record in Dortmund. With this win, Italy continued their dominance over Germany.

In the second semi-final, Portugal lost to France 1–0 in Munich. In a repeat of the Euro 1984 and Euro 2000 semi-finals, Portugal were defeated by France, with the decisive goal being a penalty scored by France captain Zinedine Zidane.
The hosts got three goals in 20 minutes in the second half with the help of 21-year-old left midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger. His first goal beat the Portuguese goalkeeper Ricardo with pace over his head. Only 4 minutes later, Schweinsteiger's free kick 30 metres from the left of the penalty box, driven low across goal, was connected with Petit's knee to become an own goal for Portugal. The German did not stop, and netted his second goal, which swerved away to the keeper's left, in the 78th minute.

Portugal were strong in possession but lacked punch in attack; unable to convert 57% possession into goals. Pauleta had two clear chances from 15 metres, but both times hit tame shots that did not trouble keeper Oliver Kahn, who was playing in his last match for the German national team. Portugal got a consolation goal with the help of substitute Luís Figo (also playing the final international game of his career), who almost immediately provided the precise distribution needed to unlock the German defence. A cross from the right wing on 88 minutes found fellow substitute Nuno Gomes at the far post, who dived in for the goal. The game ended 3–1, a result which gave the tournament hosts the bronze medals and left Portugal in fourth place.

The final started with each side scoring within the first 20 minutes. Zinedine Zidane opened the scoring by converting a controversial seventh-minute penalty kick, which glanced off the underside of the crossbar and into the goal. Marco Materazzi then levelled the scores in the 19th minute following an Andrea Pirlo corner. Both teams had chances to score the winning goal in normal time: Luca Toni hit the crossbar in the 35th minute for Italy (he later had a header disallowed for offside), while France were not awarded a possible second penalty in the 53rd minute when Florent Malouda went down in the box after a tackle from Gianluca Zambrotta.

At the end of the regulation 90 minutes, the score was still level at 1–1, and the match was forced into extra time. Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon made a potentially game-saving save in extra time when he tipped a Zidane header over the crossbar. Further controversy ensued near the end of extra time, when Zidane head-butted Materazzi in the chest in an off-the-ball incident and was sent off. Extra time produced no further goals and a penalty shootout followed, which Italy won 5–3. France's David Trezeguet, the man who scored the golden goal against Italy in Euro 2000, was the only player not to score his penalty; his spot kick hit the crossbar, landed on the goal line and went out. It was the first all-European final since Italy's triumph over West Germany in the 1982 World Cup, and the second final, after 1994, to be decided on penalties. It was also Italy's first world title in 24 years, and their fourth overall, making them the second most successful World Cup team ever. The victory also helped Italy top the FIFA World Rankings in February 2007 for the first time since November 1993.

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