The teams of the Confederación Sudamericana de Fútbol [CSF] are having a fine World Cup, much to the despair of their UEFA brothers. While european teams resort to mutiny are we seeing a South American revolution?
So much for the theory that a ‘winter’ World Cup might suit the european teams. As we say goodbye to France the temptation to have a giggle is tempered by the thought that ‘you’ could be next.
Today England and Germany could go out unless they discover the sort of winning form and consistency that has eluded them so far. Of the other ‘big’ european sides both Italy and Spain are in real danger of missing qualification for the next round.
If Italy, with two draws so far, should fail to beat Slovakia then, incredibly, a third draw for New Zealand would see them take second place in group F. The Aussies would love that! Spain, the pre-tourno favorites, could lose out to Switzerland if they fail to beat group leaders Chile on Friday.
That would be the worst UEFA performance in the history of the tournament.
Only Holland have shown form suggesting they are potential winners. But, they would meet Brazil in the Quarter Finals, so that’s probably the end of that.
In stark contrast the CSF form has been impressive; Uruguay, winning group A in style without conceding a goal; Argentina, winning group B without dropping a point; Brazil, winning group G and qualifying with a game to spare; Paraguay, the likely winners of group F; and Chile, who can top group H with just a draw against Spain.
So, what’s going on?
The reasons for european failure are many but my guess is that money is a good place to start. Ridiculous pay and perks, and a lifestyle divorced from reality, make ‘star’ players genuinely confused when challenged by anyone. Not least a coach.
You can imagine a player like John Terry, used to wielding enormous power at Chelsea, being surprised when he fails to influence Capello. Capello is a man who has handled much bigger egos, successfully, at Madrid, Roma, Juventus and Milan. I’d like to think that Beckham, who must have seen it first hand at Real, gave Terry enough rope and just sat back and enjoyed the show.
The undignified behaviour of some european teams, and their play, has been upstaged by the fear-free, exuberant football from Uruguay and Argentina, in particular. On top of that they seem to be having fun, and most of all, they seem to care [give a shit].
That last point could shine a light on the reason for the South American resurgence. In the words of Uruguayan legend Enzo Francescoli yesterday ‘I played for the Uruguay national team for 12 or 13 years and gave my all for the shirt’.
It may be a cliche but I can’t think of one England player saying that without it raising a snigger.