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Other Match Analysis ­

Malaysia 97 Final:
Uruguay v Argentina

South America's First U-17 Title:
Brazil v Ghana

1998 FIFA World Cup Qualifying:
Italy v England

1998 CONCACAF Gold Cup Final:
USA v Mexico

World Cup 98 Qualifications:
Japan v Iran

1998 World Cup Final:
France v Brazil

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France vs Brazil July 12, 1998 Score 3:0

  1. France Dynamic System of Play
  2. Brazil Dynamic System of Play
  3. Team Comarison
  4. The Two Super Stars Performance Zidane (France) vs Rivaldo (Brazil)

Fhe seventh country in the history of the FIFA World Cup to get its name on the list of winners was France. On 12 July, 80,000 spectators watched the French team defeat title-holders Brazil, thanks to two goals from their playmaker Zinedine Zidane and a third from Emmanuel Petit.

FIFA On-Line provides an analytical angle of this year’s World Cup Final as well as of the two finalist teams throughout the event with the following tactical and technical comments and graphical diagrams from SecondLook. The comments are extracts from the Official FIFA 1998 World Cup Report published in December 1998. A limited number of copies in English, French, Spanish or German will be available for the public to order from FIFA. Additional details, such as price and ordering procedures, will be made available via FIFA On-Line in January.

France Dynamic System of Play

France Dynamic
System of Play
France Dynamic System of Play
The above diagram depicts Frances's Team Spine. Each figure represents the zone on the field where that particular player touched the ball during the game. The lines between the figures represent the number of passes to each other. The thicker the line, the higher the number of passes, i.e the red line represents the most passes between the players (click on the image to view full size).
France played attacking football of a very high standard and as a well-balanced unit. Each player worked for the others and their team spirit was excellent. When substitutes came on they fitted immediately into the scheme of things.

In the centre of the defence France had Desailly and Blanc (who missed out on the final due to a red card against Croatia, but was well replaced by Leboeuf), both strong in the air and on the ground. They alternated in going forward with attacks. Both Lizarazu (left) and Thuram made surging runs down the wings to provide extra width for attacks, both delivering good crosses and Thuram going for goal himself when he saw an opportunity. Captain Deschamps was aided by Petit in organising the defensive part of midfield, while Karembeu (or Henry) and Zidane were responsible for the creative elements in the team's play. Djorkaeff shuttled back and forth between midfield and attack, and right up front they had Guivarc'h, later Dugarry and/or Trezeguet.

France used the basis of their solid defence to launch attacks with quick and accurate passing. Offensive moves usually started in the centre of defence via Blanc, Desailly or Deschamps. Using Thuram and Lizarazu down the flanks was one variation and these two were capable of providing good service to the forwards, or in the case of Thuram going for goal himself (he scored twice in the semifinal – his first-ever goals in the national team). The strengths of the team were their homogeneity, their good team work, the quality of their substitutes and the individual skills of Zidane.

Happy Ending: France, tournament winners
FIFA Magazine

So much has already been written by now about France's victory that there is little left for FIFA Magazine to add : a victory significant on so many levels, non-sporting as well as sporting, that it is difficult to know where to start.

But all things considered, France's success is hardly likely to be begrudged anywhere in the world. They were the best team over their seven matches; they had outstanding first-choice individuals from goalkeeper Fabien Barthez to defenders Lilian Thuram and Marcel Desailly, from the omnipresent midfield captain Didier Deschamps, to the goal-scoring midfielder Zinedine Zidane and the forceful Emmanuel Petit; they had exceptional reserve players, a vital component of any tournament squad; they had an astute and noble coach in Aimé Jacquet who refused to bow to media pressure; they had ambition, they had luck, they had home advantage, they had good internal organisation ... and they played to the maximum of their potential, maybe even more, lifted by the hopes of a nation who became increasingly fervent in their patriotic support as the team progressed, the multi-cultural nature of that support reflected in the composition of the team itself.

The extent of France's determination to do everything right was never more evident than in their third match in Group C, by which time they had already qualified for the second round. Jacquet introduced some notional second-choice players but these performed with such inspiration that the

2-1 defeat of Denmark was never in danger. From then on, even if a golden goal and a penalty shoot-out were required to dispose of Paraguay and Italy in the second round and quarter-finals, there was an increasing air of inevitability about the home team's steamroller ride to the ultimate achievement. Even Laurent Blanc's red card in the semi-final against Croatia served only to scratch the surface of disappointment.

The Final saw France at their best, Zidane claiming two headed goals from corners as the Brazilian defence looked on, and Petit running the length of the pitch to score the third in the dying minutes. In between, France ran the show, their midfield organisation and their growing confidence refusing to allow the Brazilians (whom Jacquet again afterwards still referred to as the best team in the world) to get into the game. By the end, a whole nation was already opening the champagne to acclaim their heroes, giving the game an unprecedented boost in the city where FIFA had been born 94 years ago and writing a new name in the World Cup records. The politicians from the Elysee Palace beamed in delight and they were not alone; France 98 had got its happy ending.

  1. The French National Team.
  2. Disciplinary summary for the tournament.
  3. Match Analyses by FIFA Technical Study Group and Official Match Reports.

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Brazil Dynamic System of Play

Brazil Dynamic
System of Play
Brazil Dynamic System of Play
The above diagram depicts Brazil's Team Spine. Each figure represents the zone on the field where that particular player touched the ball during the game. The lines between the figures represent the number of passes to each other. The thicker the line, the higher the number of passes, i.e the red line represents the most passes between the players (click on the image to view full size).
It was expected that defending champions Brazil would at least reach the final once again. With a squad of players of their quality it would be difficult for them to be seen as anything other than favourites – a role they would have to live with. And Zagallo's men were up to the challenge right through to the final, but there they met a rampant French team and appeared surprisingly uncertain and uninspired themselves.

The result of the final against France is well known, but the reason for the weak performance from the South Americans remains a mystery. Rumours about Ronaldo's health were still circulating weeks after the event. It is hard to imagine that a team of the quality of the reigning world champions would be so affected by the health of one player, even if that player was Ronaldo, or that their game would suffer so much.

Brazil's style has gone more from the romantic towards the pragmatic. This trend was noticeable in 1994 and it was more pronounced this time. The current realistic, efficient system offers fewer moments of magic, and this would not get an overwhelmingly positive vote from the fans – what they really want to see is swashbuckling attacking play.

With all the individual talent available, Brazil were still a compact team unit. But they had problems when they were behind, and they found themselves in this unusual position against Norway, Denmark and France.

The Brazilians used the same system that had brought them success four years earlier (basically 4-4-2, switching to 4-1-3-2 when the opponent had the ball and to 2-4-4 when they were in possession themselves). In goal Taffarel was calm and effective, showing good reactions, while in front of him Aldair and Junior Baiano were the central defenders and they were not always convincing. In the air their height made them formidable, but on the ground and in overall defensive play (positioning, tackling, speed) they were less impressive. Particularly in the final against France they were outpaced several times or by-passed with some sharp passing. But they alone cannot be held responsible for the defeat. The whole team was off the boil that evening and never reached their customary level.

On the flanks they had two outstanding players in Roberto Carlos (left) and Cafu (right), though both were better in going forward than in defending. Both were fast and skilful, both could hit accurate passes and in addition Roberto Carlos had a powerful shot. However their sorties down the wing left holes at the back, and these were not always blocked off well enough, neither by the midfielders nor by their defensive colleagues.

Compared to 1994, Dunga took on a different role. He went into the position that Mauro Silva had occupied, that of "windscreen wiper " in front of the defence. He was the undisputed boss of the team, directing, criticising and motivating his team mates. Cesar Sampaio played in the other defensive midfield position, whereas Rivaldo and Leonardo occupied the attacking midfield positions. Attacking down the flanks was an important part of Brazil's strategy, with Roberto Carlos and Cafu, the two wing backs, being very effective in this role. Both could hit accurate passes on the run and this meant trouble for any opposing defence.

The two strikers were Ronaldo and Bebeto. While Ronaldo would often drop back into midfield and then use his speed off the mark and his dribbling ability to penetrate, Bebeto remained up front, ready to pounce at the right moment. Ronaldo was also more prepared to get involved in tackles and to challenge for possession if the ball had been lost.

First Defeat in a World Cup Final: Brazil, Runners-up
FIFA Magazine

Ronaldo of Brazil celebrates his goal MARSEILLE - Ronaldo of Brazil (L) celebrates his goal in the second half with teammates Leonardo (C) and Bebeto. Brazil advance to the Final following a 4-2 win over the Netherlands in a penalty shoot-out. The match ended 1-1 after extra time. Photo by Jerry Lampen REUTERS
As always in the history of the World Cup, Brazil started as top favourites. If they had had to call on that extra little bit of luck in Pasadena in 1994 to beat the Italians on penalties in the Final, then in France they used it in the semi-final to overcome Holland.

And that was perhaps symptomatic of Brazil's tournament this time. Back in 94 there was considerable criticism - especially from back home - of the way the team played, not looking like certain champions all the way. But Carlos Alberto Parreira's team went on to win the trophy for the fourth time and brought decades of frustrated expectation to an end.

If that criticism was justified, the same can also be said for France 98, but it must quickly be added that Brazil still showed lots of class and that their second place was by no means unjustified.

Right from their opening match against Scotland, chinks were to be seen in their armour and these were never fully blocked, even if the team always looked capable of raising its game a notch or two when they had to.

Coach Mario Zagallo stuck pretty firmly to his chosen eleven and put the same captain in charge who had brought Brazil through four years earlier - Carlos Dunga. But four years is four years and he was not quite the commanding figure of 1994. The weak points of the team, and in the end these added up to their not being a totally integrated side and finally to their losing the title, can be summarised quickly. The defence did not look all that safe, especially in the centre, and the outer backs, Cafu and Roberto Carlos, were more impressive going forward than defending. Up front too, there was not the striking power of 1994. Bebeto was less successful than he had been in the USA despite his three goals, and even though Ronaldo put in four he was clearly not top fit nor in top form. A point worthy of note was that the team had to rely on midfielder Cesar Sampaio for three of their goals.

The main unanswered question remains, what was wrong with the team and with Ronaldo in particular that they were unable to create more chances? This was Mario Zagallo's fifth World Cup Final in one function or another, but the first time that Brazil had failed to win the most important football match in the world.

  1. Brazilian National Team.
  2. Disciplinary summary for the tournament.
  3. Match Analyses by FIFA Technical Study Group and Official Match Reports.

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The Two Super Stars
Comparing the two diagrams below, note that both Rivaldo and Zidane had a similar number of completed passes. Looking at individual performances, we can see that Zidane connected most often with Lizarazu (13 passes) while Rivaldo connected mainly with Roberto Carlos, Dunga and Denilson and only once with Ronaldo.

Rivaldo's Completed Passes Zidane's Completed Passes
Rivaldo's Analysis Zidane's Analysis
In the attacking part of midfield it was Rivaldo who was in charge, offering service to Ronaldo and Bebeto up front as well as using his deadly left foot to good effect. Heriting Brazil’s number 10 jersey, which always puts particular pressure on whoever wears it, Rivaldo had his greatest moments in the match against Denmark when he scored two goals. In the final, while managing to offer some good support to his forwards, he did was stifled by the French and unable to exercise the same dominating match control.
In midfield, Zidane was the dominant figure. Screened by Deschamps and Petit who worked unselfishly for the team, he was the focal point of the action. He would collect the ball in midfield and then try to set up chances, either for himself or for his team mates. Zidane is an exceptional player, full of ideas and creativity; a man who is difficult to replace. He can decide a game all by himself. Almost all attacks ran through Zidane. This would seem to make the team's moves predictable, but he was so creative that his ideas were always turning up new surprises.

Team Comparison
Team Comparison
The above diagram shows that Brazil had 45% more total passes than France with 60% more completed passes. Brazil overwhelmed France in the second half with 7 cornerkicks vs none for France but still could not score any goals. France scored 3 Goals inspite of being overwhelmed by Brazil.
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