All eyes on World Cup final

It is going to be the biggest of all soccer matches as Italy takes on France in the World Cup finals in Berlin on Sunday night.

updated: February 25, 2007 11:35 IST
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It is going to be the biggest of all soccer matches as Italy takes on France in the World Cup finals in Berlin on Sunday night. Television companies are expecting a cumulative audience of almost 30 billion, which is about five times the world's population as soccer lovers are expected to tune into the match at different points in time. The French team trained hard on Saturday ahead of the clash, as it will be the last international match for players of the class of '98, which includes the likes of Zidane, Thuram and Barthez. Raymond Domenech's men were dismissed as ageing and over-the-hill, but that has changed over the past fortnight. They now are ready to match the Italians man-for-man and similarities in the two sides go beyond the colour of their first-choice jersey. "I think Italy are ready for the final, a bit like us. They got stronger, they have found their team, they have reinforced their results, they have ideas, they want to do well too, they are very motivated like the French team," said Willy Sagnol, member, French team. Past comparisons The two teams have played 32 times before, with Italy clearly dominating. The Azzuri have won 17 times, compared to just seven wins for Les Bleus. The games are a little more even in the World Cup encounters, with the Italians having won two out of the four games. The two teams' last meeting was their only clash in the title round of a major tournament. Dravid Trezeguet's golden goal had given France a 2-1 victory in the Euro 2000 Final. Mentally tough Italy has shown that they're mentally the toughest side in the tournament, having overcome the psychological effects of the match-fixing inquiry back home. This is a revenge match of sorts for Marcello Lippi's men, who had led for 90 minutes before losing to France in the Euro 2000 Final. "If we don't win, then we will be upset. All of us will be very upset, really, really upset," said Marcello Lippi, Coach, Italy. "We have done something very important, but that's the furthest thing from our mind. We have to win because the opportunity of playing in a World Cup final doesn't come along everyday," he added. At stake is not just the most coveted prize in football, but for men like Zidane and Henry, a last shot at immortality.