Italy came through to the knock-out phase due to a tough backline, conceding only a singlel in the group phase, and a great display of attacking variation. They finished the tournament with ten different players accounting for their twelve goals. A close call came for the Azzurri in the second round, the Italians gaining a Francesco Totti penalty deep into the remaining minutes in order to eliminate the Australians out. The Italians had spent much of the game with only ten men on the field, following a controversial red card shown to centre-back Marco Materazzi. After this, their passag to the final became comfortable, first defeating the Ukraine 3-0 in the last eight, courtesy of two goals from Serie A golden boot winner Luca Toni, and then the 2–0 semi-final win over Germany, who were the runners-up in 2002 and also the host nation this time around. Italy netted in both goals in the remaining few minutes of extra time (through Fabio Grosso and Alessandro Del Piero), putting an end to the Germans' record of never losing a match in Dortmund. Following the first goal, the Germans, desperate to level, pushed players further up the field, awarding the Italians with the chance to go two goals up.

FRance started slowly in the group phase, carrying the momentum from their final group game (a 2-0 win over Togo) into the second round. The nations Golden Generation who had came out of retirement for the World Cup, came together with the more young talents of Thierry Henry and Franck Ribéry, and started to find their form as they came from behind to beat Spain 3-1, having conceded the first goal of the match in the 28th minute. They then eliminated out the favourites and defending winners, Brazil, defeating them 1–0 in the quarter-finals, allowing their opponents only one shot on goal in the process.

After the French defeated Brazil they beat Portugal in the semi finals, the nation who defeated England on penalties.The English were far from impressive during the finals,tipped by many to win the competition prior the start, they put on three unconvincing performances in the group phase and then defeated Ecuador, thanks to a David Beckham free kick. The Portugese defeated England on penalties in the last eight, in a match which Wayne Rooney got sent off and a game in which Hargreaves showed the entire England how much of a really good player he was, howveer Portugal were deserved winners.

After a dazzling start to the world cup, Argentina were eliminated on penalties in the quarter finals,suffering defeat to the hosts, Germany. It was a world cup which Miroslav Klose finished off winning the golden boot and Ronaldo ended it was the top goal scorer in world cup history with his three goals.

In an eventful final, Italy defeated France on penalties, however the match was marred by the late sending off Zidane, who went on to be named as the world cups player of the competition.

© 2006 World Cup Years Ltd.