In 2006, the 18th World Cup was held in Germany from June 9 to July 9. After a qualifying process in which 198 countries competed, the tournament’s final phase will feature 32 teams, including the automatically qualified host nation Germany (for the first time since the rule was introduced 1938, the reigning champions was no longer automatically qualified). Angola, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Ukraine, Czech Republic, and Serbia and Montenegro will all be making their first appearances in the World Cup.
The greatest controversy in Italian football history, Calcipoli, involving match-fixing, erupted just before the championship, and several stars in the Italian squad were influenced in some way. The incidents will have a positive effect on their results, rather than the other way around.
The system consisted of four teams in each division, with two teams progressing to the knockout stage.
Cities and arenas
The matches will be held in twelve different stadiums in twelve different cities. The final will be held at the Olympiastadium in Berlin, which has a seating capacity of 72,000.
The match between Germany and Costa Rica, which featured six goals, was named the tournament’s opening match with the most goals. The tournament as a whole, however, was marked by few goals per match, almost a new low record.
Argentina may have been the most impressive squad in the group stage. Argentina won 6-0 against Serbia and Montenegro in the second match, with one of the goals becoming perhaps the best in the World Cup: 24 passes were made before Esteban Cambiasso’s second goal. After yet another dream goal, this time a shot by Maxi Rodrguez, Argentina will kill Mexico in the Round of 16. In their next match, however, they would lose on penalties to Germany.
Germany, who had breezed through their group and thrashed Sweden in the Round of 16 before facing Argentina, would lose their next match to Italy.
Italy will also win the final against France, which was settled by a penalty shootout for the second time in World Cup history. Prior to Italy’s equaliser, France had taken the lead on a questionable penalty. However, the most talked-about incident was Zinedine Zidane’s headbutt on Italian defender Marco Materazzis, which earned him a red card.
After a penalty shootout, Italy defeated France 5-3 in the final.