US SoccerUS Soccer

June 13 Match Previews

Costa Rica vs. Brazil
Suwon World Cup Stadium (Capacity: 44,047)
Suwon, Korea – Group C – 3:30 p.m. local time
Live on ESPN at 2:25 a.m. ET

Brazil is one of just three teams to post two wins in their first two games, and the South American squad has been the most impressive of the group.  With wins over China and Turkey, Brazil seemed much more like the team that has advanced to two straight finals, instead of a team that struggled to qualify. 

Brazil’s “3 R’s” - Rivaldo, Ronaldo and Ronaldinho - headline a potent attack, and Juninho Paulista has returned to the team to marshal the midfield.  So far the team has not missed injured captain Emerson.  Ronaldo and Rivaldo have each scored two goals in the first two games, and Ronaldo appears to be hitting the form that made him a two-time World Player of the Year. 

Costa Rica is part of the three-team crew from CONCACAF that is yet to record a loss in the tournament.  Costa Rica played very well in the second half against Turkey, with Winston Parks recording a late equalizer and nearly scoring the winner minutes later.

Costa Rica clinches a spot in the second round with a win or a draw, and can still get through with a loss pending the result in the Turkey-China game that is being played at the same time.

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
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

Costa Rica
2002 World Cup quaslifying: Finished first in CONCACAF Final Group (7-1-2; 17 GF, 7 GA)
World Cup final appearances: 2 – 1990 (13th), 2002
Overall Record in WC: 2-2-0
Manager: Alexander Guimares (CRC)
World Cup Roster
1-Erick Lonnis, 18-Alvaro Mesén, 23-Lester Morgan, 2-Jervis
Drummond, 3-Luis Marín, 4-Mauricio Wright, 5-Gilberto
Martínez,14-Juan Jose Rodriguez, 15-Harold Wallace, 21-Pablo Chinchilla,22-Carlos Castro, 6-Wilmer López, 8-Mauricio Solis,
10-Wálter Centeno,13-Daniel Vallejo, 19-Rodrigo Cordero, 7-Rolando Fonseca, 9-Paulo Wanchope, 11-Rónald Gómez, 12-Winston Parks, 16-Steven Bryce, 17-Hernan Medford, 20-William Sunsing.

Turkey vs. China
Seoul World Cup Stadium (Capacity: 63,942)
Seoul – Group C – 3:30 p.m. local time
Live on ESPN2 at 2:25 a.m. ET

Turkey is in a fortunate unfortunate position.  The Turks are unfortunate that even if they get a win, they still need a favorable result in the other Group C match to assure them a spot in the next round.  Fortunately for them, they are playing group weakling China and the team they need help from in the group is an on-form Brazil. 

Turkey’s best player so far in this tournament has been goalkeeper Rustu Recber, but he does not figure to factor into the match against China.  The Chinese have yet to score a goal in this World Cup, and since this is there first World Cup they haven’t scored in World Cup history. 

China, one of four nations playing in their first World Cup, are known more for their coach than for any of their players.  Bora Milutinovic, the “miracle worker” who has guided four teams to the second round of the World Cup, was unable to work his miracles on an overmatched China team.  With this team, Bora worked all his miracles in helping them qualify for their first-ever World Cup. 

2002 World Cup qualifying: Won Asia “Group 2” (6-1-1; 13 GF, 2 GA)
World Cup final appearances: 1 – 2002
Overall Record in WC: First appearance
Manager: Bora Milutinovic (SER)

World Cup Roster
1-An Qi, 22-Jiang Jin, 23-Ou Chuliang, 2-Zhang Enhua, 3-Yang Pu, 4-Wu Chengying, 5-Fan Zhiyi, 7-Sun Jihai, 14-Li Weifeng, 17-Du Wei, 21-Xu Yunlong, 6-Shao Jiayi, 8-Li Tie, 9-Ma Mingyu, 11-Yu Genwei, 13-Gao Yao, 15-Zhao Junzhe, 18-Li Xiaopeng, 19-Qi Hong, 10-Hao Haidong, 12-Su Maozhen,16-Qu Bo, 20-Yang Chen

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)
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 

Mexico vs. Italy
Big Eye Stadium (Capacity: 43,000)
Oita – Group G – 8:30 p.m. local time
Live on ESPN at 7:25 a.m. ET

This game is a rematch from the 1994 World Cup, where the teams battled to a 1-1 draw in the first round in Washington, D.C. A 1-1 draw on Thursday will not guarantee Italy a spot in the next round and will secure Italy’s spot at the top of Group G.

Italy, one of the tournament co-favorites (which it turns out is a kiss of death in Korea/Japan), needs a result against a Mexico team that has put together back-to-back one-goal wins.  Even with a positive result, Italy will not know about their future until the completion of Ecuador–Croatia.     

Italy feels cheated after a 2-1 loss to Croatia – one of the more unjust results of the tournament. Christian Vieri had one goal disallowed on a questionable offsides call, Francnesco Totti’s free kick hit the left post and then rolled across the goalline, and Filippo Inzaghi was whistled for a questionable foul that took away a goal.  But in the end it was the renowned Italian defense that faltered, allowing Croatia to score twice in a three-minute span. 

The Italian offense has consisted of little more than Christian Vieri, who has scored all three of Italy’s goals through two games.  Alessandro Del Piero has been largely relegated to the bench, and Filippo Inzaghi returned to the line-up against Croatia after sitting out the opener.  One of the two Juventus strikers needs to step it up if the Italians are going to live up to their hype. Mexico’s Cuahetemoc Blanco will pose a formidable threat to Italy’s backline, which is one of the best in the business.

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
Manager: Javier Aguirre (MEX)
Championship Honors: 1999 Confederations Cup champions; 1993, 1996 & 1998 Gold Cup champions
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

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
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 

Ecuador vs. Croatia
International Stadium (Capacity: 70,654)
Yokohama – Group G – 8:30 p.m. local time
Live on ESPN2 at 7:25 a.m. ET

Croatia must like their chances for three points against winless Ecuador. With the top two spots in Group G still up  in the air, Croatia has the fortune to play the group’s bottom feeder.

After being surprised by Mexico in the opener, Croatia squeezed out a 2-1 win against Mexico – with a little help.  Croatia scored twice in three minutes and then saw two goals called back and a free kick hit the post.

Ecuador is one of four teams playing in their first World Cup, and the South Americans have yet to record their first World Cup point.  Ecuador played well against Mexico, going ahead through Agustin Delgado’s first half goal. 

Delgado and Croatia will struggle to score against Croatia, who gave up only two goals during qualifying play, the fewest of any nation in the world. 

Croatia finished in third place in 1998 at their first World Cup.  In France, Croatia led the eventual champions France 1-0 in the second half, but faltered in the final 45 minutes and lost 2-1.  The Golden Boot winner from the 1998 World Cup, Davor Suker (six goals in ’98), is back, but is yet to tally in this World Cup.

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)
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

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
Manager: Mirko Jozic (CRO)
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,