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France Is Thorn for Brazil, 1-0

July 02, 2006|From the Associated Press

FRANKFURT, Germany — France stole Brazil's rhythm, its style, even its samba.

Along the way, the French also knocked the defending champions out of the World Cup.

The experienced and savvy French ousted the pretournament favorites, 1-0, in a stunningly one-sided quarterfinal game Saturday. Tacked onto France's 3-0 victory in the 1998 title match -- the last time Brazil lost in the World Cup -- it's clear the Brazilians have a nemesis at soccer's highest level.

The French were so much better at playing Brazil's natural, free-flowing game that the result never seemed in doubt after Thierry Henry volleyed in captain Zinedine Zidane's free kick in the 57th minute. The only magical moves on the field were French; the only dancing in the stands was being done by Les Bleus' ecstatic fans.

"This was not a lucky victory," Henry said. "I've always said this World Cup isn't about us dreaming of winning, but I have to say this victory is the stuff of dreams. Now we want to go all the way."

First France goes to the semifinals against Portugal on Wednesday in Munich. With Germany playing Italy in Tuesday's semifinal in Dortmund, this is the first all-European final four since 1982 in Spain.

"I did not prepare for this, and no one in our delegation prepared for this," Brazil Coach Carlos Alberto Parreira said of the loss.

Indeed, it was a shocking exit for the pretournament favorite.

The Brazilians had only one shot on goal and allowed huge defensive gaps all night. The French eclipsed Brazil's galaxy of stars with crisp passing, aggressive tackling and superior play in the air. Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Kaka were invisible or inept.

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