A different sense of occasion
- 9 Jul 06, 04:13 PM
OLYMPIC STADIUM BERLIN - World Cup finals are special events in the sporting calendar - each one is unique.
And already, after attending the 2002 final between Brazil and Germany in Yokohama, I can detect a different atmosphere in Berlin this afternoon.
The feeling surrounding the game in Yokohama four years ago was almost polite, with an appreciative Japanese crowd interspersed with supporters of the two sides taking part in the final.
It was in keeping with the tournament, but there is already more passion here as fans of France and Italy gather in their thousands at a stadium steeped in sporting and national history.
This is not a criticism of the Yokohama final, or indeed the Japanese fans who made a huge contribution to a great tournament, along with their South Korean counterparts.
Berlin's streets were lined with flags and fans of all nations this morning, but the noise left you in no doubt which countries were contesting the final.
This, for me, gives this final an extra sense of occasion compared to four years ago.
Two European football super-powers fighting it out on their own continent to secure the sport's greatest prize should provide a perfect finale to the World Cup.
Feelings are divided in the media centre, with the romantics hoping for one final fling from Zinedine Zidane, while others believe Italy can cap a steady improvement throughout the tournament with victory.
If I was a betting man - which I am not - I would go for a narrow Italy win.
The caterers are staying strictly neutral, however, ignoring the delights of French cuisine or a special pasta to serve up pork curry with rice.