The final match of the 2002 FIFA World Cup, played between Germany and Brazil at the International Stadium in Yokohama, Japan. It was the first (and, to date, only) World Cup meeting between the two sides. Brazil won the match 2–0, winning a record fifth title. Ronaldo, who became the record World Cup goalscorer at the 2006 tournament, scored two of his fifteen World Cup goals in the second half of the match, leading Brazil to the title and winning the Golden Boot award. This match also marked Brazilian captain Cafu's third appearance in a World Cup Final, a feat that has yet to be accomplished by any other player in the history of the tournament. Both teams had won their respective groups before advancing to the knockout stage, where Germany shut out all of their opponents en route to the final, while Brazil only allowed a single goal from England. Germany advanced past the surprisingly advanced United States and co-host South Korea, while Brazil knocked out England.
The title marked Brazil's fifth World Cup championship, which is more than any other nation has achieved, also being the first team to win all seven of their games without any extra time or penalty kicks. Germany lost the World Cup Final for its fourth time, another tournament record. They were attempting to tie Brazil for most championships with a win, as the team had already won three.
Prior to the tournament, Germany were plagued by a series of injuries to key players. Sebastian Deisler, a star player, would not be able to play in the tournament due to a knee injury suffered in a friendly match against Austria, only two days before the team left for Japan. The team's medical staff was at first confident that Deisler would be able to play, but later pulled him out due to fears of his safety. "At first we had a glimmer of hope, but now the most important thing to think about is the health of Sebastian rather than the World Cup," said team manager Rudi Völler. In addition, midfielder Mehmet Scholl and defenders Christian Wörns and Jens Nowotny all missed the tournament due to injury.
Germany began in the group stage in Group E, placed among Republic of Ireland and the low-ranking Saudi Arabia and Cameroon. In their opening match at the Sapporo Dome against Saudi Arabia they showed dominance, defeating them 8–0. Miroslav Klose scored a hat-trick, one of six different players on the German team to score a goal. In their next game against Ireland, Germany held a 1–0 lead throughout much of the game. However, with only a few seconds left in stoppage time, Irish player Robbie Keane, scored the equalising goal against German goalkeeper Oliver Kahn. The goal held and the match ended in a 1-1 draw, awarding Germany only one point in the standings. Needing a win to finish first in their group, Germany entered their final match against Cameroon one point ahead of the Irish in the group. However, Germany easily beat Cameroon in a 2–0 game at Shizuoka Stadium, with Klose scoring his fifth goal of the tournament. Germany finished first place in Group E with seven points (two wins and a draw), and advanced into the first stage of the knockout round.
In the first stage of the knockout round, Germany faced Paraguay, the runner-up in Group B, at Jeju World Cup Stadium. The game remained a very defensive one, as there were no goals scored in the first half and well into the second half. In the 88th minute, first-time, Oliver Neuville scored, winning the game for Germany. In the quarter-finals, Germany faced United States, who had surprisingly made it far into the tournament. Although they were significantly outshot 11 to 6, the Germans were still able to pull away with a 1-0 win. The single goal scored in the match came from Michael Ballack in the 38th minute.
In the semi-final, Germany faced the co-host nation South Korea at the Seoul World Cup Stadium. Like the game against Paraguay, it was a defensive struggle throughout the first half and into the second half. However, before any goals were scored, a key moment in the tournament occurred. In the 71st minute, Ballack picked up his second yellow card of the knockout round, therefore disqualifying him from the next game. However, just four minutes later into the game, Ballack came through for Germany and scored, which turned out to be the only goal of the game. With the 1-0 win, the Germans moved into the final to face Brazil, the first World Cup meeting between the two.
Brazil drew into Group C, along with China, Costa Rica, and Turkey. In the previous World Cup in 1998, Brazil made it to the finals but then lost 3-0 to the host nation France. In an interview, Brazilian midfielder Juninho Paulista stated that both the team and the people in Brazil were both somewhat pessimistic about the upcoming World Cup squad due to the loss to France. Following the 1998 loss, the team hired a new head coach, Luiz Felipe Scolari. Felipe preferred a more different style of football than previous coaches, which he called "bullyboy soccer". In this style of play emphasis is placed on aggressive play and hard tackling, which was in contrast to the more finesse play of previous Brazilian teams.
On June 3, Brazil played its first match of the group stage against eventual group runner-up Turkey. In stoppage time at the end of the first half, Turkey's Hasan Şaş scored, leaving Brazil down 1-0 at half time. In the second half, Brazil's Ronaldo responded quickly by levelling the scores at 1-1 in the 50th minute. The score remained tied until well late into the game. In the 86th minute, Turkish defender Alpay Özalan brought down Brazilian striker Luizão in the penalty area, prompting a red card for Alpay and a penalty kick that Rivaldo converted. The match score finished at 2-1, Brazil victorious. In their second game against China at Ulsan Munsu Football Stadium, the Brazilians fared much more easily. Roberto Carlos, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho, and Ronaldo all scored for Brazil, the first three goals being in the first half. With this win, Brazil also knocked the Chinese team out of the World Cup with their second loss. In their final game against Costa Rica, Brazil was very strong offensively. In a 5-2 win, Ronaldo scored two goals, one of four Brazilian players to score in the match. Brazil finished in first place in their group with nine points and scoring eleven goals, advancing to the round of 16 with ease.
Entering the elimination round with a perfect record, Brazil faced Group H runner-up Belgium in the first stage. The game remained scoreless at half time, as both teams had good goalkeeping. In the 67th minute, striker Rivaldo scored for Brazil. Ronaldo added on a second goal in the 87th minute, solidifying the win for Brazil at 2-0. England faced Brazil in the quarterfinals, and got ahead early with a goal by forward Michael Owen in the 23rd minute. The scores were levelled in the first half's stoppage time, when Rivaldo scored in his second straight match just before the half was called. Following half time, forward Ronaldinho scored for Brazil, putting them in the lead. Only seven minutes later, Ronaldinho was red-carded by referee Felipe Ramos Rizo of Mexico and therefore suspended for the next match. Although they played with only 10 men, the Brazilians were able to prevent a second goal from their English opponents and advanced into the semi-finals to face Turkey.
In the semi-final, the sans-Ronaldinho Brazil faced Turkey for the second time, at Saitama Stadium. The game, unlike the first meeting between the teams, had a strong showing of defense by both sides. The game was a scoreless tie at half-time, but this soon changed. Only four minutes after the half in the 49th minute, Ronaldo again came through for Brazil, scoring what ended up being the only goal of the match. With this low-scoring victory, the Brazilians moved on to attempt to win a record fifth World Cup title, against the aforementioned German squad.
Over 200 different nations and territories broadcast the final over radio and television. In totality, 232 different television channels broadcast the match, which was a new record for a World Cup Final (only later to be broken in 2006). The final had the highest television audience of the entire tournament, attracting over 63 million viewers in Nielsen-measured countries. The Germany-South Korea match was a close second, as much of the host nation viewed the game to support their team. It was the highest-viewed non-finals match in World Cup history.
The game was played at International Stadium Yokohama, where three other matches in the World Cup were previously held. The stadium was the largest in the tournament as well as the largest in the entire nation of Japan, seating over 70,000 spectators. In all, about 260,000 people attended matches in this stadium throughout the World Cup, which, at the time, was a new record.
The match ball for this game was the Adidas Fevernova, a ball specifically made for the World Cup. The ball's design was different from the normal "Tango" type of three-pointed shapes connecting each hexagon, instead introducing a different, triangle-like shape on four hexagons. This look and color usage was entirely based on Asian culture. It also featured a refined syntactic foam layer, to give the ball superior performance characteristics, and a three-layer knitted chassis, allowing for a more precise and predictable flight path. However, this ball was notoriously criticised for being too light, yet some spectacular goals were scored with it during the tournament. The ball was also blamed for a number of upsets that happened in the knockout stages. Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon called the ball "a ridiculous kiddy's bouncing ball," while Brazil's Edilson criticised the ball as being "too big and too light".