When the World Cup began, Frenchman Zinedine Zidane looked tired, and his Real Madrid teammate, Brazilian Ronaldo, was overweight.
The two Galacticos were dismissed as past their prime, but they played key roles Tuesday in leading their teams into the quarterfinals, where they meet Saturday in Frankfurt.
An inspired Zidane led France to a 3-1 win over favored Spain, scoring an insurance goal in stoppage time. Ronaldo scored the first goal in Brazil's 3-0 victory over Ghana, setting the all-time World Cup record with his 15th career goal.
Both players have led their teams to World Cup titles. Zidane's two first-half goals, both on headers, propelled France past Brazil, 3-0, in the 1998 final. Ronaldo scored twice in the second half to lead Brazil past Germany, 2-0, in the 2002 World Cup final.
"That 1998 final is a glorious memory for the French people," says the 34-year-old Zidane, who will retire after the World Cup. "And we'll hope to recreate that feeling here in Germany. Brazil is a great team, but we'll be well prepared for them."
Ronaldo's strong play in Brazil's last two games has come as no surprise to his coach, Carlos Alberto Parreira.
"He's calm, confident, and he's smiling again," Parreira said of Ronaldo.
"Ronaldo and Zidane are two monsters in the world of football," Parreira added. "Zidane is at the end of his career, but Ronaldo has a few more to go. Don't forget that he's only 29 and he could play for another four or five years. I can see him playing another World Cup if he's motivated."
IN AND OUT.
Brazilian midfielders Emerson and Kaka are both nursing knee injuries suffered in the win over Ghana but should start on Saturday. Robinho should again be available after sitting out the Ghana game with a thigh injury. He could start in place of Adriano, who scored against Ghana - his 25th goal in 35 international games.
France and Brazil have met three times in the World Cup, most recently in 1998 when host France lifted the World Cup trophy for the first time by beating Brazil, 3-0, in the final. Three starters on each team from that game are playing in the 2006 World Cup: Fabien Barthez, Lilian Thuram and Zidane for France and Cafu, Roberto Carlos and Ronaldo for Brazil. France beat Brazil on penalty kicks in the quarterfinals of the 1986 World Cup. Pele's hat trick propelled Brazil past France, 5-2, in the semifinals of the 1958 World Cup.
Brazil (4-4-2): 1-Dida (90 caps-0 goals); 2-Cafu (148-0), 3-Lucio (54-2), 4-Juan (42-2), 6-Roberto Carlos (130-10); 17-Gilberto Silva (42-3), 11-Ze Roberto (83-6), 8-Kaka (38-10), 10-Ronaldinho (70-30); 9-Ronaldo (102-65), 7-Adriano (35-25).
France (4-2-3-1): 16-Fabien Barthez (84 caps-0 goals); 19-Willy Sagnol (42-0), 15-Lilian Thuram (118-2), 5-William Gallas (44-1), 3-Eric Abidal (11-0); 4-Patrick Vieira (91-6), 6-Claude Makelele (47-0); 22-Franck Ribery (7-1), 10-Zinedine Zidane (105-29), 7-Florent Malouda (16-2); 12-Thierry Henry (82-35).
Spaniard Luis Medina Cantalejo was involved in one of the most controversial calls of the 2006 World Cup. He awarded a last-minute penalty to Italy in its round-of-16 match against Australia when Fabio Grosso went down under Lucas Neill's "challenge."
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Expectations low for England-Portugal
Saturday's England-Portugal quarterfinal match in Gelsenkirchen doesn't promise to be a thing of beauty. Ask both coaches
"I'm not a trainer who lies and says that I want to win beautifully with the beautiful game," says Portugal coach Luiz Felipe Scolari. "I want results. England and Portugal both do. Some of those who have played beautifully are already at home."
Adds England coach Sven Goran Eriksson, "To win the World Cup, I am prepared to do whatever. If that means to play bad football all the way, OK, come on. Who cares?"
If the play of the two teams is any indication, things don't bone well for a classic at the Veltins-Arena.
Portugal's previous game against the Netherlands set one World Cup disciplinary record (four red cards) and tied another (16 yellow cards). Physical challenges were followed by play-acting and all sorts of delaying tactics.
England captain David Beckham says his team is ready to rumble.
"We're English and, typically, we love physical games," he said. "We relish a high tempo with tackles flying in."
Beckham rejected FIFA president Sepp Blatter's claim that England's defensive tactics were out of touch with the tone of the tournament.
"We feel under pressure to perform and win games," Beckham said, "and that's what it's all about -- winning games. It's up to us to enjoy ourselves and win football matches."
IN AND OUT.
Midfielders Deco and Costinha are both suspended, but their replacements, Armando Petit and Simao Sabrosa, are experienced. Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo, who was injured in the win over the Netherlands, may not be ready to face England. Gary Neville should return at right back for England with Canadian product Owen Hargreaves moving into midfield.
Portugal beat England on penalty kicks in the quarterfinals of Euro 2004. They met in two of Portugal's three previous appearances in the World Cup. England won, 2-1, in the 1966 semifinals; Portugal defeated England, 1-0, in their opening game at the 1986 World Cup.
England (4-5-1): 1-Paul Robinson (25-0); 2-Gary Neville (80-0), 5-Rio Ferdinand (51-1), 6-John Terry (28-1), 3-Ashley Cole (50-0); 7-David Beckham (93-17), 8-Frank Lampard (44-11), 16-Owen Hargreaves (32-0), 4-Steven Gerrard (46-9), 11-Joe Cole (36-6); 9-Wayne Rooney (32-11).
Portugal (4-5-1): 1-Ricardo (53-0); 13-Miguel (32-1), 16-Ricardo Carvalho (28-1), 5-Fernando Meira (34-2), 14-Nuno Valente (26-1); 8-Armando Petit (40-4), Maniche (35-6), 11-Simao Sabrosa (47-10), 7-Luis Figo (124-32), 17-Cristiano Ronaldo (35-12); 9-Pauleta (85-47).
Argentine Horacio Elizondo officiated the opening game of the World Cup. He handed a red card to Beckham six years ago when Manchester United was playing in the 2000 Club World Championship.
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