Estadio Jalisco, Guadalajara, 24.07.1999
– / Zé Roberto 62., Ronaldinho pen 72., 72., Alex 86., 88.
Erich Ribbeck’s B-team had what was probably the most testing of their three group fixtures in the opening match: Brazil. As expected, things did not start too well and the men in canary yellow were quickly into their stride, launching wave after wave of attacks against a scarily static German defence. Germany somehow made it to half time without conceding, and even went past the hour mark while keeping the Brazilians off the scoresheet.
It didn’t last.
Once Zé Roberto – who played in the Bundesliga for Bayer Leverkusen – had opened the scoring for A Seleção on sixty-two minutes, the floodgates opened. Ten minutes later a young and less hirsute Ronaldinho was awarded a penalty – his spot-kick was well saved by Jens Lehmann, but Brazil’s new buck-toothed maestro was on hand to tap in the rebound.
Substitute Alex scored two goals at the death to complete a comprehensive 4-0 thrashing, but had the Brazilians been more sure of themselves in front of goal over the entire ninety minutes it could easily have been seven or eight.
While the result bordered on the humiliating, those German supporters watching the game more closely would have however been less worried about the scoreline than the distinct lack of passion shown by Erich Ribbeck’s side: one might have expected the fringe players to put in more effort in order to stake a claim for a regular place in the squad, but instead they delivered a performance that was insipid, one-dimensional, tactically naïve and at times completely clueless.
Germany: Lehmann – Wörns, Linke – Matthäus (c) – Ricken, Ballack, Wosz, Heinrich (74. Maul) – Neuville (79. Gerber), Preetz (71. Marschall), Scholl
Brazil: Dida – Evanilson, Odvan, João Carlos, Serginho – Vampeta, Flávio Conceição (62. Alex), Émerson, Zé Roberto (82. Beto) – Ronaldinho, Christian (62. Warley)
Referee: Gilberto Alcalca (Mexico)
Assistants: Vladimir Bertiaga (Panama), Peter Kelly (Trinidad & Tobago)
Yellow Cards: Scholl / Emerson, Vampeta
Red Cards: – / –