Ahead of England’s eagerly-awaited clash with Brazil, ExtraFootie looks back to the 2002 World Cup, scene of La Selecao’s fifth and latest World Cup triumph.
As the famous saying goes; ‘The English invented football, the Brazilians perfected it.’ And this was expertly demonstrated at the 2002 World Cup.
The 17th staging of the World Cup was the first tournament in its history to be hosted by two countries simultaneously (Japan and South Korea) as well as the first ever World Cup held in Asia.
Boasting the likes of Ronaldinho, Rivaldo and Ronaldo (or the 3 R’s), along with full-backs Roberto Carlos and Cafu, as well as midfielder Gilberto Silva, Luis Felipe Scolari’s men swept all aside before eventually lifting the famous Jules Rimet trophy for a record fifth-time.
In total, the Samba boys netted 18 goals and conceded just four and won every single match as they blew away the opposition with attacking flair, Brazilian flamboyance and ruthless efficiency upfront.
In one of the more watchable tournaments in recent years, ExtraFootie pin-points 3 things we cherished most about the Green and Yellows in 2002.
1. Rivaldo’s Theatrics!
Ok we admit it’s a controversial choice! We do not so much admire the former Barcelona ace’s theatrics, but rather cherish just how it so obviously makes Rivaldo look like a pathetic, cheating, diving, play-actor.
In a tournament laden with sublime goals, the 37-year-old's theatrics in the group game against Turkey (which Brazil won 2-1) was amongst the most unforgettable moments of the tournament. He deserved an Oscar.
2. Great goals
The Samba boys blasted home 18 goals on their way to the title, some of which were real scorchers. How about Roberto Carlos’ sizzler of a free-kick against China? Or Ronaldo’s exquisite run and finish against the Turks in the semi-final. Many may even point to Ronaldinho’s was-it-wasn’t-it shot-come-cross against England, which, if it was the former makes it a simply superb strike.
However, our favourite is Rivaldo’s simply outstanding chest and volley against Belgium in the last 16. In what was arguably Brazil’s hardest game of the whole tournament, the former FIFA World Player of The Year’s tremendous effort finally broke down a spirited Belgium side as Scolari’s men eventually secured a 2-0 win. “It was riveting. It was ruthless and it was Rivaldo!” gushed a schoolboy-esque Motty at the time. Who are we to argue?. Check out the goal at 1:52.
The buck-toothed star is considered by many to be amongst the greatest strikers in history, and the former Galactico showed why when after two career threatening injuries and months of rehabilitation, O Fenomeno came back with a bang and he helped himself to 8 goals as he lit up the tournament.
To cap it off, the World Cup’s all-time leading goalscorer made up for his 1998 final no-show by bagging a brace against Germany in Japan’s Yokohama Stadium. Check out the best of the rest of ‘Ronnie’s’ goals in World Cup 2002 below.