By Mike Collett
LONDON, April 30 (Reuters) - This is the fifth and final part of a brief history of the World Cup finals covering the tournaments from 2002 through to the preparations for 2014: Part Five: The tournaments from 2002 to 2014 - - - 2002 SOUTH KOREA AND JAPAN Final: June 30 2002: International Stadium, Yokohama BRAZIL 2 GERMANY 0 Attendance: 69,029
The decision to stage the first World Cup in Asia in South Korea and Japan was one of the most profound FIFA have made.
Decades of animosity between the two countries had created a situation that would have resulted in national shame for whichever nation lost the vote to host the tournament.
Their shared and difficult history was something that even FIFA could not solve and, in July 1996, FIFA did the most pragmatic and sensible thing by making them joint hosts.
The competition threw up surprise after surprise, starting with the opening match in Seoul when debutants Senegal beat holders France 1-0.
This, clearly, had the makings of a World Cup with a difference.
But that was just the start. France and Argentina departed early, while the co-hosts, swept along on a tide of passionate support, exceeded expectations as South Korea reached the semis and Japan the second round, where they lost to a good Turkish side.
Brazil avoided the errors the other fancied nations were committing.
They won all three group matches against Turkey (2-1), China (4-0) and Costa Rica (5-2) before beating Belgium 2-0 in the second round.
That set them up with a quarter-final against a strong England side who somehow lost their way after being a goal ahead against 10 men, after Ronaldinho was sent off.
Before departing, Ronaldinho had scored with a free kick that flew over David Seaman's outstretched arm from 40 meters to secure Brazil's 2-1 victory.
Germany, South Korea and Turkey also made it through to the last four. Brazil beat Turkey 1-0 and Germany beat South Korea by the same score.
Despite having reached the deciding match of the previous 16 World Cups 12 times between them, Brazil and Germany had never previously met at a World Cup.
Brazil were the hot favourites, Germany were difficult to beat and it was not until the 67th minute that Brazil broke through, Ronaldo scoring the first of his two goals.
The second arrived 12 minutes later as he finished as tournament top scorer with eight goals. - - - 2006 GERMANY Final: July 9 2006: Olympic Stadium, Berlin ITALY 1 FRANCE 1 (Italy won 5-3 on penalties)
After some of the major upsets of the 2002 finals, a sense of order returned to the 2006 tournament in Germany, a very different country from the one that staged the 1974 finals when Germany was still divided.
Although Juergen Klinsmann's hosts were knocked out in the semi-finals, it was a celebratory tournament, with the innovation of "Fan Miles" a great success and Germans displaying patriotic support for their team, something rarely seen in the country since the Second World War.
The traditional powers all survived the opening phase and six former champions made it to the last eight: Germany, Argentina, Italy, England, Brazil and France with Ukraine and Portugal the others.
Although there was a dearth of goals in the later stages, Ronaldo set an all-time World Cup scoring record with his 15th goal in the finals, beating Gerd Mueller's record of 14 established in 1974.
Germany recovered from their 2-0 defeat to Italy in the semi-finals to beat Portugal in the third place playoff, leaving the stage set for the final between Zinedine Zidane's France and the impressive Italians.
Both teams scored inside 19 minutes with Zidane giving France the lead from the penalty spot after seven minutes and Marco Materazzi equalising for Italy 12 minutes later.
Those two players were involved in the most dramatic moment of the tournament near the end of extra time when Zidane, in the last act of his dazzling career, headbutted Materazzi in the chest and was sent off.
Italy claimed their fourth World Cup after winning the shootout 5-3 with David Trezeguet, who scored France's golden goal winner against Italy in the Euro 2000 final, the only player to miss a penalty.
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2010 SOUTH AFRICA
Final: July 11 2010: Soccer City, Johannesburg
SPAIN 1 NETHERLANDS 0
Spain, who won the European title in 2008, became the eighth different country to be crowned world champions at the end of a disappointing finals which were the first to be played on African soil.
A World Cup that promised so much, failed to deliver on so many levels.
Of the six African countries taking part, only Ghana survived the group stages and South Africa became the first hosts to be eliminated in the first round.
Many matches were played in freezing weather in stadiums where the atmosphere was killed off by the incessant drone of vuvuzelas.
To top it off, the final itself was the worst since 1990 with only an extra-time goal from Spain's Andres Iniesta separating the teams as Spain became the first side from Europe to win the World Cup outside their own continent.
Referee Howard Webb handed out 14 yellow cards in the final and sent off John Heitinga of the Netherlands before Spain recorded their fourth successive 1-0 win after beating Portugal, Paraguay and Germany by the same score on their way to the final.
The tournament had started brightly for the hosts with Siphiwe Tshabalala scoring a stunning first goal in a 1-1 draw with Mexico, but even a win over 2006 finalists France could not stop them being eliminated.
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Final: July 13 2014, Maracana Stadium, Rio de Janeiro
Brazil will host the World Cup for the first time since 1950 from June 12 to July 13 and will be favourites to become world champions for the sixth time.
They played some excellent football to beat Spain 3-0 in last year's Confederations Cup final in Rio de Janeiro, and there is huge optimism that Luiz Felipe Scolari can repeat his 2002 achievement of making Brazil champions again.
The build-up to the finals has been overshadowed by long delays in stadium construction and the violent protests that marred last year's Confederations Cup hang over the tournament.
FIFA and local organisers are optimistic those scenes will not be repeated, but nothing can be ruled out as the tournament approaches.
(Reporting by Mike Collett; editing by Josh Reich)