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STARS BEGIN TO SHINE

STARS BEGIN TO SHINE

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The 2006 World Cup is down to the last eight teams, as the race to be crowned champion for the 18th edition of the football’s premiere competition narrows in Germany.

Six of the eight teams reaching this phase have lifted the title. Those that have tasted the moment of rare glory are Germany, Argentina, Italy, England, Brazil and France.{{more}}

The quarter final stage starts today Friday dominated by the presence of South American and European teams. Germany meets Argentina in Berlin and Italy plays against Ukraine in Hamburg.

Tomorrow England meets Portugal in Gelsenkirchen and Brazil plays France in Frankfurt.

Three times holder Germany emerged winner over Sweden 2-0 in the round of 16, while Argentina, two times champion edged out Mexico 2-1 in extra time in a hard-fought encounter.

Another three-time winner of the world cup Italy, had a 1-0 triumph over Australia, with first timer in the finals Ukraine recording a 3-0 win on penalties at the expense of Switzerland. Full time and the thirty minutes of extra time did not affect the goalless match.

England, won the World Cup only once in 1966. They eked out a 1-0 win over Ecuador.

Their quarter final opponents Portugal had a similar scoreline in their favour when they met Holland in a match filled with aggressiveness. There were four red cards, two each on either side.

Current holder and five times winner Brazil beat a spirited Ghana 3-0, to set up their meeting with 1998 winner France.

The 29-year-old Ronaldo’s fifth minute goal for Brazil, and his third in this year’s finals, puts him as the all time leading goal scorer in the world cup finals. His fifteenth goal broke Gerd Mueller’s record.

The French, who ended second in group G behind the Swiss, came from behind to beat group H winner Spain 3-1.

France and Ukraine are the only second place teams from the preliminary stage that have gained spots in the quarter finals.

Semi-final action is set for Tuesday July 4 and Wednesday July 5.

Tuesday’s match-up pits the winner of the Germany versus Argentina against the winner of the Italy versus Ukraine encounter.

The other semi-final bout sees the winner from the England versus Portugal match meeting the winner of the Brazil versus France clash.

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