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Golden Touch

June 28, 2002

World Cup championships are nothing new to Brazil and Germany, who have combined to win seven of the last 12. The highlights:

SWITZERLAND 1954

West Germany

The West Germans entered the final as one of the greatest underdogs of all time, facing the Hungarians, who had already defeated them, 8-3, in group play. But this was the game on which Germany's reputation for battling through under any circumstances was built. Hungary led, 2-0, after only eight minutes, but the Germans had equalized by the 19th minute. Five minutes from overtime, Helmut Rahn scored the winner. The German captain, Fritz Walter, died 11 days ago, possible inspiration for this year's German team.

SWEDEN 1958

Brazil

In its last game of group play, Brazil introduced the world to future greatness, as 17-year-old Pele made his first appearance, in a 2-0 victory over the Soviet Union. He didn't score that day, but had the lone goal in a quarterfinal victory over Wales, scored a hat trick in the semifinals against France and added two more goals in the final, including a 90th-minute score to close out a 5-2 victory over Sweden.

CHILE 1962

Brazil

If 1958 belonged to Pele, 1962 belonged to Garrincha. A short, bandy-legged winger whose nickname meant "The Little Bird," he had only made the national team four years before at the insistence of his teammates, who didn't share the reservations of the coaching staff over his irreverent personality. In Sweden, his crosses from the right side provided goals for Pele and Vava. In 1962, with Pele injured during the first round, he added goal-scoring to his arsenal. He scored twice in both the quarterfinals and semifinals, before Brazil put away Czechoslovakia, 3-1, in the championship game.

MEXICO 1970

Brazil

Brazil left England in 1966 after first-round elimination, complaining of rough treatment by the European teams. But if anyone thought the dynasty was at an end, the 1970 team proved them wrong. Scoring 19 goals in six games, it romped through a strong field, led by Pele and Jairzinho. A goal by Gerson in the 66th minute of the final broke a 1-1 tie, on the way to a 4-1 victory over Italy.

WEST GERMANY 1974

West Germany

The situation was similar to that of 20 years before. The West Germans suffered an embarrassing first-round loss, this one 1-0 to East Germany, and found itself in the final against an overwhelming favorite. The Netherlands, known for its proficiency in the fluid style of Total Football, showed its skills by holding possession of the ball for the game's first two minutes, gaining a penalty kick after an exhibition of precision passing and taking a 1-0 lead. But West Germany gave the home fans what they came for, tying the score in the 25th minute on Paul Breitner's penalty kick, taking the lead two minutes from the half on Gerd Muller's goal, then holding on for the victory.

Italy 1990

West Germany

In a tournament in which teams didn't so much advance as survive, it was perhaps fitting that the hard-working Germans would win. Their opponent, Argentina, was playing with four starters out because of an accumulation of yellow cards, and the game appeared headed to penalty kicks, as had both semifinals. In the 84th minute, however, Rudi Voeller, Germany's high-scoring forward and coach of the current German team, was taken down in the penalty area, and Andreas Brehme converted the kick for a 1-0 victory.

USA 1994

Brazil

The fears of soccer purists finally came true when a World Cup final was decided by penalty kicks, but Brazil earned its championship with a tournament-long run of strong play and the scoring of Romario and Bebeto. After outlasting the Netherlands, 3-2, in a quarterfinal game that may have been the best match of the tournament, and nipping Sweden, 1-0, the Brazilians played Italy to a 0-0 tie in intense heat at the Rose Bowl. The shootout is best remembered for Roberto Baggio, whose scoring had led Italy into the final, shooting over the bar on the final kick of the game.

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