Jeju World Cup Stadium, Seogwipo, 15.06.2002
Neuville 88. / –
Having safely negotiated their first phase group and scoring eleven goals in the process, Rudi Völler’s German side would make their way across to South Korea, having played their first three matches in Japan. They would head to the city of Seogwipo – located on the island province of Jeju south of the Korean peninsula – to take on Group A runners-up Paraguay, a team that had just about scraped into the second phase after pipping South Africa to second spot on goal difference by runaway group winners Spain.
Paraguay were a tactical, hard-working side that offered nothing spectacular – apart perhaps from their eccentric goalkeeper José Luis Chilavert who saw himself as free-kick specialist. The Paraguyans had nullified France at the same stage four years earlier before finally being unlocked in extra time, and going into this match Völler and his team would clearly be expecting something similar. History would also be against the South Americans: in their five previous World Cups, they had never made it into the last eight.
Following the dismissal of defender Casten Ramelow in the Mannschaft’s final group match against Cameroon the Nationaltrainer would be forced to alter his hitherto unchanged side, and would also make a few tactical changes as well. Völler would play a more conventional 4-4-2 against the South Americans, replacing the suspended Ramelow with Marko Rehmer and pulling Torsten Frings back into a new defensive quartet, while further up the field additional changes would be made with Dietmar Hamann and Christian Ziege being replaced by the more workmanlike Jens Jeremies and Marco Bode. Up front, the versatile Oliver Neuville would be brought in for the disappointing Carsten Jancker to partner the tournament’s top goalscorer Miroslav Klose.
Seogwipo’s Jeju World Cup Stadium would be one of the tournament’s smaller grounds, and a crowd of just over twenty-five thousand would welcome both teams onto the pitch. Germany would once again be in their traditional black and white outfit, while the Paraguayans would be kitted out in their just as familiar red and white horizontal striped shirts, blue shorts and blue socks.
On what was a warm and slightly afternoon – Germany’s first afternoon kickoff after three evening starts – Guatemalan referee Carlos Alberto Batres would get things under way.
Paraguay ‘keeper José Luis Chilavert is finally beaten, and goalscorer Oliver Neuville charges off in celebration
Four years previously in France, Paraguay had taken the hosts and eventual winners into extra time following a goalless draw; this time, we would be spared the additional thirty minutes as a dominant German side finally and deservedly broke the deadlock with almost perfect timing. Rudi Völler’s decision to start with Oliver Neuville would prove to be inspired.
It had not been a classic performance by any means, but it was another win, another clean sheet, and the Nationalmannschaft were through to the quarter-finals – where they would take on surprise package the United States in Ulsan.
Germany: Kahn (c) – Frings, Rehmer (46. Kehl), Linke, Metzelder (60. Baumann) – Schneider, Ballack, Jeremies, Bode – Klose, Neuville (90. Asamoah)
Paraguay: Chilavert – Arce, Cáceres, Ayala, Gamarra, Caniza – Bonet (84. Gavilán), Acuña, Struway (90. Cuevas) – Cardozo, Santa Cruz (29. Campos)
Referee: Carlos Alberto Batres González (Guatemala)
Assistants: Curtis Charles (Antigua & Barbuda), Dramane Danté (Mali)
Fourth Official: Hugh Dallas (Scotland)
Yellow Cards: Schneider, Baumann, Ballack / Acuña, José Cardozo
Red Cards: – / Acuña 90.+2.