Brazil v Turkey - Ulsan, Korea - 4:55 a.m. ET (ESPN2)
Croatia v Mexico - Niigata, Japan - 2:25 a.m ET (ESPN2)
Italy v Ecuador - Sapporo, Japan - 7:25 a.m. ET (ESPN2)
Brazil v Turkey
Ulsan Munsu Football Stadium (capacity: 43,003)
Group C – Ulsan, Korea - 6 p.m. local time
U.S. Television Information: Live on ESPN2 at 4:55 a.m. ET
This match has been played out in the Korean press all week, so don’t expect either team to hold back when they step on the field in Ulsan. Many rate these two sides as the class of Group C, and the offensive firepower trotted out by both sides should make for an exciting affair. Turkey will be led by Hakan Sukur and Brazil counters with the three “R’s” – Ronaldo, Rivaldo and Ronaldinho. Brazil struggled in qualifying, finishing third in CONMEBOL qualifying and losing six times in 18 qualifiers. Brazil has advanced to the last two World Cup finals (topping Italy in penalties in 1994 and losing to France in 1998), but are not one of the favorites in this year’s edition. Turkey is playing in their first World Cup since 1954 and only the second World Cup in their country’s history. A quarterfinal berth in Euro 2000 signaled a revival in Turkish football, and many rate Turkey as favorites to finish behind Brazil and advance into the second round. Brazil won the only previous meeting between the two teams, topping Turkey 1-0 in a friendly on May 1, 1956.
2002 World Cup qualifying: Finished third in CONMEBOL Final Group (9-6-3; 31 GF, 17 GA)
World Cup final appearances: 17– 1930 (6th), 1934 (14th), 1938 (3rd), 1950 (2nd), 1954 (5th), 1958 (1st), 1962 (1st), 1966 (11th), 1970 (1st), 1974 (4th), 1978 (3rd), 1982 (5th), 1986 (5th), 1990 (9th), 1994 (1st), 1998 (2nd), 2002
Overall Record in WC: 53-13-14
Manager: Luiz Felipe Scolari (BRA)
Championship Honors: 1958, 1962, 1970 & 1994 World Cup champions; 1919, 1922, 1949, 1989, 1997, & 1999 Copa America champions; 1997 Confederations Cup champions
Fast Facts: Brazil is the only country in the world to appear in every World Cup Finals. … In addition to winning a record four World Cups, they have also reached the final on two other occassions. … Both Rivaldo and Romario had eight goals in qualifying. … Only four teams in South America had more defeats than Brazil’s staggering total of six.
World Cup Roster
1-Marcos, 2-Cafu, 3-Lucio, 4-Roque Junior, 5-Edmilson, 6-Roberto Carlos, 7-Emerson, 8-Gilberto Silva, 9-Ronaldo, 10-Rivaldo, 11-Ronaldinho, 12-Dida, 13-Belletti, 14-Anderson Polga, 15-Kleberson, 16-Junior, 17-Denilson, 18-Vampeta, 19-Juninho Paulista, 20-Edilson, 21-Luizao, 22-Rogerio Ceni, 23-Kaka
2002 World Cup qualifying: Finished second in UEFA “Group 4” (6-1-3; 18 GF, 8 GA); defeated Austria in home-and-home playoff 5-0 on aggregate score.
World Cup final appearances: 2 – 1954 (9th), 2002
Overall Record in WC: 1-2-0
Manager: Senol Gunes (TUR)
Fast Facts: Qualified for their first World Cup in 48 years, the third longest span ever for a country between two World Cups (behind Egypt and Norway at 56 years) … Were led in qualifying by forward Hakan Sukur with a team-best six goals.
World Cup Roster
1-Rustu Recber, 12-Omer Catkic, 23-Zafer Ozgultekin, 2-Emre Asik, 3-Bulent Korkmaz, 4-Fatih Akyel, 5-Alpay Ozalan, 16-Umit Ozat, 7-Okan Buruk, 8-Tugay Kerimoglu, 10-Yildiray Basturk, 13-Muzzy Izzet, 14-Tayfur Havutcu, 18-Ergun Penbe, 19-Abdullah Ercan, 20-Hakan Unsal, 21-Emre Belozoglu, 22-Umit Davala, 6-Arif Erdem, 9-Hakan Sukur, 11-Hasan Gokhan Sas, 15-Nihat Kahveci, 17-Ilhan Mansiz
Croatia v Mexico
Big Swan Stadium (capacity: 42,700)
Group G – Niigata, Japan - 3:30 p.m. local time
Live on ESPN2 at 2:25 a.m. ET
Mexico has never topped Croatia, losing 2-1 in Seoul in 1999 and falling 3-0 in Zagreb in 1992. Croatia has quickly become a soccer power, finishing third in their first World Cup appearance (1998) and then going undefeated and winning their qualifying group for this year’s tournament. In France ’98, Croatia led eventual champions France in the second half of the semifinal, before France’s late comeback carried them to the finals. Croatia was impressive in qualifying, giving up only two goals while scoring 15. Bosko Balaban paced the team, scoring five qualifying goals. Mexico struggled in the first half of CONCACAF final round qualifying, but finished strong to clinch a spot in their 12th World Cup. Mexico will play without downed captain Claudio Suarez, their most experienced defender.
2002 World Cup qualifying: Won UEFA “Group 6” (5-0-3; 15 GF, 2 GA)
2001 Overall Record: 6-1-5
World Cup final appearances: 2 – 1998 (3rd), 2002
Overall Record in WC: 5-2-0
Record vs. USA: Never met
Manager: Mirko Jozic (CRO)
Fast Facts: Will be making their second straight appearance at the World Cup, after a miraculous run to third place in France in 1998 … Became only the third nation in World Cup history to capture the bronze medal in their first tournament appearance, joining the United States (1930) and Germany (1934). … Davor Suker won the Golden Boot in France ’98 with six goals. … Croatia gave up only two goals during qualifying play, the fewest of any nation in the world.
World Cup Roster
1-Stipe Pletikosa, 12-Tomislav Butina, 23-Vladimir Vasilj, 2-Anthony Seric, 3 Josip Simunic, 4-Stejpan Tomas, 6-Boris Zivkovic, 15-Danijel Saric, 17-Robert Jarni, 20- Dario Simic, 21-Robert Kovac, 5-Milan Rapajc, 7-Davor Vugrinec, 8-Robert Prosinecki, 10-Nico Kovac, 13-Mario Stanic, 14-Zvonimir Soldo, 16-Jurica Vranjes, 9-Davor Suker, 11-Alen Boksic, 18-Ivica Olic, 19-Goran Vlaovic, 22-Bosko Balaban
2002 World Cup qualifying: Finished second in CONCACAF Final Group (5-3-2; 16 GF, 9 GA)
2001 Overall Record: 11-12-4
World Cup final appearances: 12 – 1930 (13th), 1950 (12th), 1954 (13th), 1958 (16th), 1962 (11th), 1966 (12th), 1970 (6th), 1978 (16th), 1986 (6th), 1994 (13th), 1998 (13th), 2002
Overall Record in WC: 8-19-10
Record vs. USA: 28-8-4; 109 GF, 49 GA
Most Recent Match vs. USA: Mexico 1, USA 0 in Mexico City; July 1, 2001 (Borgetti)
Manager: Javier Aguirre (MEX)
Championship Honors: 1999 Confederations Cup champions; 1993, 1996 & 1998 Gold Cup champions
Fast Facts: Have successfully qualified for their 12th World Cup, the most of any country in the CONCACAF region. … After earning just four points in their first five games (which included their first-ever home qualifying loss at Estadio Azteca), new head coach Javier Aguirre led a rebirth for the team in finishing 4-0-1 and eventually finishing in second place. … Were led in scoring by Cuauhtemoc Blanco and Jared Borgetti with five and three goals, respectively.
World Cup Roster
1-Oscar Perez, 2-Francisco Gabriel De Anda,3-Rafael Garcia, 4-Rafael Marquez, 5-Manuel Vidrio, 6-Gerardo Torrado, 7 -Ramon Morales, 8-Alberto Garcia Aspe, 9-Jared Borgetti, 10-Cuauhtemoc Blanco, 11-Braulio Luna, 12-Oswaldo Sanchez, 13-Sigifredo Mercado, 14-German Villa, 15-Luis Hernandez, 16-Salvador Carmona, 17-Francisco Palencia, 18-Joahan Rodriguez, 19-Gabriel Caballero, 20-Melvin Brown, 21-Jesus Arellano, 22 -Alberto Rodriguez, 23-Jorge Campos
Italy v Ecuador
Sapporo Dome Stadium (capacity: 42,122)
Group G – Sapporo, Japan - 8:30 p.m. local time
Live on ESPN2 at 7:25 a.m. ET
Italy open the tournament in Japan as one of the favorites to lift the Cup on June 30. The Italians will likely worry more about injuries and starting line-up squabbles than they will about Ecuador, a team that surprisingly finished second in South American qualifying. The talent in the Italian side, and a look at the bench confirms that this team is deep as well as it is talented. Stars Alessandro Del Piero, Filippo Inzaghi and Gianluigi Buffon are all expected to start the match against Ecuador on the bench. The Italians have participated in 14 previous World Cups, winning three and finishing higher than 10th only once (12th place, Mexico City 1986). Ecuador, meanwhile, will be appearing in their first World Cup in their country’s history. The team surprised everyone by finishing ahead of Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Colombia and others in CONMEBOL qualifying. Included in their qualifying campaign is a pair of consecutive home wins against World Cup qualifiers Paraguay and Brazil. How this team competes on the world stage remains to be seen, but any advancement out of the group would have to be considered a huge coup for this South American side.
2002 World Cup qualifying: Won UEFA “Group 8” (6-0-2; 16 GF, 3 GA)
2001 Overall Record: 6-1-2
World Cup final appearances: 15 – 1934 (1st), 1938 (1st), 1950 (7th), 1954 (10th), 1962 (9th), 1966 (9th), 1970 (2nd), 1974 (10th), 1978 (4th), 1982 (1st), 1986 (12th), 1990 (3rd), 1994 (2nd), 1998 (5th), 2002
Overall Record in WC: 38-12-16
Manager: Giovanni Trappatoni (ITA)
Championship Honors: 1968 European Cup champions; 1934, 1938 & 1982 World Cup champions
Fast Facts: Three-time winners of the World Cup, equal with Germany and one behind Brazil. … Have qualified for 11 consecutive World Cups and their 15 overall appearances is also even with Germany (and just two behind Brazil’s 17). … The Italians surrendered just one goal in their final seven qualifying matches (after opening with a 2-2 draw in Hungary). … Were led offensively by Filippo Inzaghi’s seven goals and Alessandro Del Piero’s five tallies. … Were finalists at World Cup USA ’94, losing on penalties to Brazil.
World Cup Roster
1-Gianluigi Buffon, 12-Christian Abbiati, 22-Francesco Toldo, 2-Christian Panucci, 3-Paolo Maldini, 4-Francesco Coco, 5-Fabio Cannavaro, 13-Alessandro Nesta, 15-Mark Iuliano, 23-Marco Materazzi, 6-Cristiano Zanetti, 8-Gennaro Gattuso, 11-Christaino Doni, 14-Luigi Di Biagio, 16-Angelo Di Livio, 17-Damiano Tommasi, 19-Gianluca Zambrotta, 7-Alessandro Del Piero, 9-Filippo Inzaghi, 10-Francesco Totti, 18-Marco Delvecchio, 20-Vincenzo Montella, 21-Christian Vieri
2002 World Cup qualifying: Finished second in CONMEBOL Final Group (9-5-4; 23 GF, 20 GA)
2001 Overall Record: 6-4-4
World Cup final appearances: 1 – 2002
Overall Record in WC: First appearance
Manager: Hernan Dario Gomez (COL)
Fast Facts: Making their first appearance in a World Cup. … One of four rookie nations in the 2002 tournament (China, Senegal and Slovenia are the others). … Were the darling of 2002 qualifying, finishing in an improbable second place in CONMEBOL. … Led on the field by goalscorer Agustin Delgado and the crafty veteran midfield play of Alex Aguinaga.
World Cup Roster
1-José Francisco Cevallos, 12-Oswaldo Johvani Ibarra, 22-Daniel Viteri, 2-Augusto Poroso, 3-Iván Hurtado, 4-Ulises De La Cruz, 6-Raul Guerron, 8-Luis Gomez, 15-Marlon Ayoví, 17-Geovanni Espinoza, 23-Walter Ayoví, 5-Alfonso Obregon, 7-Nicolás Asencio, 10-Alex Aguinaga, 14-Juan Carlos Burbano, 16-Cléber Chalá, 19-Edmundo Mendez, 20-Edwin Tenorio, 21-Wellington Sánchez, 9-Iván Kaviedes, 11-Agustín Delgado, 13-Angel Fernández, 18-Carlos Tenorio