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Euro 2012 - a World Cup without Brazil?

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Tim Vickery | 09:20 UK time, Monday, 4 June 2012

A Rio newspaper on Sunday asserted that the European Championship is a World Cup without Brazil and Argentina. It is an expression used on both sides of the Atlantic - but that does not make it fair.

European teams have disputed the last two World Cup finals but the continent also provides some of the dullest teams in the tournament. The phrase is unfair on Africa and Asia, where South Korea have made a consistent contribution to recent World Cups. If they needed home advantage to reach the semi-finals in 2002, then so did England in 1966 and France in 1998 to register their only wins.

The phrase is also deeply unfair on the rest of South America, a continent which gave ample proof of its current strength two years ago in South Africa. Chile came up with their best-ever performance away from home by making the second round. Paraguay reached the last eight for the first time - and gave champions Spain their most even game on the way to the title. And Uruguay got to the semi- finals.

There could hardly be a greater compliment paid to South American football - the team that came fourth in the world only came fifth in the continent's qualifiers. They had to book their place in South Africa via a play-off with Costa Rica.

There are two key moments in the history of South America's national teams. The first is the birth of the Copa America in 1916, and its staging on an almost annual basis until the Wall Street crash of 1929.

Frequent Copa Americas led to an exchange of ideas and a dynamism of competition which rapidly raised standards of play. This helps explain how Uruguay were able to astonish Europe with the innovative beauty of their play when they won the Olympic gold medals of 1924 and 28 - events which led directly to the birth of the World Cup.


Jose Salomon Rondon helped Venezuela to a point against Uruguay. Photo: Getty

The second key moment comes in 1996, when the continent's ten countries were placed in one big group for World Cup qualifying, playing each other home and away in a marathon competition.

This gave South American national teams the type of calendar that European sides take for granted. Previously there could be gaps if two years between competitive matches. Now there was a regular calendar, with guaranteed income from TV. This meant that countries could keep a side together, grow in confidence and tactical nous, and that there was money available to hire good coaches and invest in youth development.

The benefits of the first moment, back in 1916, were reaped by Uruguay, Argentina and Brazil. The benefits of the second moment 80 years later have been distributed more widely. Given its small population Uruguay's decline was seen as inevitable but they have been able to recapture some of their former glory. The likes of Ecuador and Venezuela were seen as a joke, a South American San Marino and Faroe Islands. Not any more. Ecuador have now gone to two World Cups and Venezuela are quite entitled to see themselves on the way to making their debut in the competition.

That feeling is all the stronger after they held Uruguay to a 1-1 draw in Montevideo on Saturday. Perhaps the stand-out aspect of the game was the maturity of the Venezuela team. They set out to frustrate Uruguay and deny them opportunities. They were looking comfortable until falling behind to a typically intelligent piece of movement from Diego Forlan.

After the interval, Venezuela were forced to be more ambitious and, as the second half wore on, they opened up with more attacking substitutions. They played with the assurance of a team confident that its moment would come.

Big centre forward Jose Salomon Rondon was the spearhead. Seven minutes from time, errors from two Uruguayan substitutes gave him the opportunity to meet Juan Arango's cross with a header which nestled in the corner and earned the team a point.

When Venezuela first started winning games a decade ago under coach Richard Paez, their football was inclined to be carefree and loose. Cesar Farias has imposed a different mentality. His team have scored four and conceded four in their five matches of the current campaign. Only Paraguay, who have a game in hand, have scored fewer. No one has conceded less.

Farias is also showing impressive man management skills. He is bringing in players based in Europe with a Venezuelan connection. Saturday's side included two such examples - Athletic Bilbao centre-back Fernando Amorebieta and former Switzerland Under-21 attacking midfielder Frank Feltscher.

This Saturday Venezuela host Chile in round number six. European coaches would do well to take notice - their team might even be drawn against Venezuela in the 2014 World Cup.

Comments on the piece in the space provided. Questions on South American football to vickerycolumn@hotmail.com, and I'll pick out a couple for next week.
From last week's postbag:

In the 2013 Confederations Cup in Brazil, it is more or less the same teams participating again, such as Brazil, Australia and Mexico. To avoid this, I feel we should increase the number of teams from eight to 16.

We could have two teams from each of the six confederations, plus Brazil as hosts and the three best teams from the 2010 World Cup who have not qualified otherwise. Vasuki Coomaran

I'm against your proposal because I don't think that what happens on the field in the Confederations Cup is of much relevance. It is a test event, a chance for FIFA and the host nation to work on the organisational side of things. We have the real World Cup with 32 teams. I don't think we gain anything having a mini one with 16.

The resurgence of Vasco de Gama in recent times has been good to see and key to their success has been centre-half Dede. What are the chances of him moving to Europe this summer? Tim Emerton

The chances are improved by Vasco's financial problems - they've been late paying their players. He is a hugely impressive centre-back, quick and strong, dominant and classy. There is perhaps a worry that he might struggle to adapt off the field, but in purely footballing terms he would be an excellent acquisition for a top European club.

Comments

Page 1 of 2

  • Comment number 1.

    Good to see Lionel Messi leading Argentina by example. I have not seen so much of these qualifiers as Sky and ESPN have not got the rights and we have lost the indepth coverage in the UK we used to have, but he has struggled to perform for Argentina as he does for Barcelona I believe, but I saw the Ecuador game and he was outstanding and the crowd showed their appreciation.

    Maybe Messi can finally get Argentina to the world cup in style and then complete his claim for best player ever, by winning Argentina the title on South American soil.

    I fancy Argentina for the title. I feel Brazil may not be able to live up to the fans demands in 2 years time and Argentina might pick up the pieces.

  • Comment number 2.

    What do ye make of the farce that is Ronaldinho-Flamengo?

    Just read the story about his brother in the Flamengo club shop!

    From the outside looking in, cause seems to be a very messy in/formal agreement between the club and a company that invests in players in South America. Of course, that is putting aside the erm usual Ronaldinho antics.

  • Comment number 3.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 4.

    I always find the view that the Euro's are better than the World Cup a bit shallow. Usually the argument being that the Euro's has stronger teams in the group stages than those in the World Cup. That may be the case but if/when the Euro's are expanded to the same size of the World Cup then I would argue the quality of the groups in the Euro's would be at most on par.

    Could the reason the so called lesser teams in the World Cup do not generate the same public interest as say the Euro's, be down to player familiarity and exposure? Could it be that because the viewers do not know enough about a country and its players they simply decide it is not a worthy watch? A good example of this would be Ghana in the 2010 World Cup, where despite admittedly not knowing much about them they were refreshing to watch.

    Looking at the winners of the Euro's in the last 20 years, could anyone genuinely argue that the likes of Denmark and Greece (with all respect) would be capable of winning the World Cup? To me that shows the quality, prestige and honour of winning the World Cup is higher than the Euro's.

    Not knocking the Euro's at all, Im looking forward to them, but for me the best tournament is always the World Cup.

  • Comment number 5.

    I love watching South American football and so when a South American player travels to the Premier League they are brilliant to watch. Teams like Ecuador, Paraguay e.t.c play fast, attacking football which make them fun to watch. I really hope the Euros are going to be attacking - I have a bad feeling that they may be completely defensive minded...

  • Comment number 6.

    Out of curiosity, What is your opinion on the recent strong development of the Mexican youth sides? I realise it isn't quite South American football, but the senior side's win against Brazil last night brought it to my attention. They seem to be placing well at U-17, U-20 and U-23 levels.

  • Comment number 7.

    Whereas I sympathise with those that feel the reference to the World Cup as Euros + Argentina and Brazil is dismissive of Africa, Asia and the Americas (excluding Brazil and Argentina), it's a fair one, particularly if you are looking purely at the pool of serious contenders for the final (semifinalists). No doubt, the World Cup is far more prestigious and interesting because of the shear variety of styles and football cultures on show (not to mention the fans).

    Nonetheless, if you had to pick 10 teams that would be considered favourites to win the 2014 World Cup, how many wouldn't be a member of the above description? Sure, you have the occasional surprise package every once and a while like Uruguay and South Korea (although I dispute the legitimacy of their inclusion in this list as an example considering the appallingly biased refereeing which gifted them wins against both Spain and Italy). Nevertheless, since 1990, the two surprise packages named above are the only teams to make it to the semis.

    Do I dispute the other regions' right to a fairer allocation of World Cup slots? No. Giving them the opportunity to compete at this level will gradually (hopefully) result in more of them achieving the standards set by the traditional elite. But 2 semi-finalists in 20 years inevitably means those regions are justifiably being labelled as "filler".

    This is not a matter of political correctness. This is an assessment purely based on performance. Once we start to see African, Asian and American teams other than Brazil and Argentina regularly upsetting the apple cart, this perception will change.

    For now, it is simply an accurate depiction of the current state of affairs.

  • Comment number 8.

    I feel sad right now due to our (I'm Peruvian) defeat to Colombia at home yesterday. This was a game we had to win but with 6 of our usual starting-11 out injured it was always going to be hard against this very good Colombian side. However, I feel we played better regardless of our limitations and we really only lost because of a single mistake in defence at a crucial moment in the game. It is disappointing to lose like that, especially when you see that we deserved a point at least. It is now back to square one and we must try to beat Uruguay in Montevideo next Sunday.

    For those of you who don't follow South American football, these qualifiers are shaping up to be the hardest-fought ones since the introduction of the current format in 1996. The only team that really seems to be way below the rest is Bolivia and even us, Peru, who did so badly in the last qualifiers, are playing much better. Even with only 3 points out of a possible 12 so far, I think we still have a good chance. We must now beat every team at home (including Argentina, which is doable, as Venezuela have already shown) and take at least 5 points away from home (Bolivia, Paraguay and Colombia seem places where we could take something away from).

    Anyways, next weekend's round of games will be just as exciting. I personally don't expect anything more than a defeat in Uruguay but I hope we can take at least a point or even win (we've already done it there 7 years ago so why not again?). In any case, crunch time will be our following two qualifiers in September, which are both at home against Venezuela and Argentina. We should get 6 points from those and, if we don't, we ought to get at least 4, anything less and it is realistically bye-bye World Cup for another 4 years.

  • Comment number 9.

    Hi Tim

    I have tickets for me and my Son for Brasil v Egypt at the Millennium Stadium here in Cardiff on the 26th of July. Yes, I am 'doing' the Olympics.

    Any idea when the Brasil squad will be announced? Who should we be looking out for, so, in a few years time, when they move to Man City for £140m each, we can say 'we saw him when he was a tiddler'?

    Can't Wait of Cardiff

  • Comment number 10.

    ample proof of its current strength because Chile made the 2nd round for the first time?

    Think youre stretching yourself a bit there.

  • Comment number 11.

    I would argue that the Copa America is now a stronger tournament than the Euros, or at least is the equal of them.

    Look at what we have ahead of us for the next month. Germany, Spain and Holland are strong teams, and Italy and France are decent teams. The other eleven - England included - are mediocrities which can only advance by playing anti-football like Greece in 2004.

    Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay are at the level of Spain, Germany and Holland, while Chile, Colombia, Venezuela and Paraguay are at least as strong as Italy and France, and better than England or Croatia.

    I live in Australia, where we are still blessed with Setanta Sports, who broadcast every South American qualifier except for Argentina's matches, which are on our terrestrial ethnic minority broadcaster, SBS.

    I think South America has chosen wisely in playing its continental championship just 1 year into the 4 year World Cup cycle. Brazil and Argentina are effectively already using their 2014 teams in the matches they play - Brazil's Olympic eleven is also its 2014 eleven.

    In contrast, you just have to look at England to see what is wrong with playing the Euros 2 years into the cycle. Terry, Cole, Lampard, Gerrard and Barry were in their first choice starting line-up, yet all will be too old when 2014 comes around.

    By the way CDG90, you are a brave man asking Tim to comment about Mexico. He will point out that Mexico City is as far from Rio as London is from Mumbai. (It's as certain a bet as any future comments about Ricardo Teixeira containing the words "bloated, whiskey-sodden elite".)

    And CDG90, don't read too much into Mexico beating Brazil yesterday. Brazil's team is very young and Mexico had "home" advantage in Dallas.

    Speaking of which, next time you see the claim that there are more American fans who go to the World Cup than any other nationality, take it with a pinch of salt. I was at South Africa 2010, and yes, there are more American passport holders than any other two nationalities put together (even English and Dutch). But the thing is, they are all dressed in green shirts and sombreros. There are 32 million Mexican Americans, around half of whom have financial means which are not just far beyond most of the 112 million Mexicans in Mexico, but also are far beyond most British football fans.

    Mexican Americans love their football, and there are 11 million in California alone, and 8 million in Texas. People talk about football's economic powerhouse moving to East Asia, but you can make a strong argument that there is now a four way split developing between Europe, East Asia, Brazil and Mexican America.

    FIFA is already recognising this. At the 2010 World Cup, the hospitality packages were for corporate types in private boxes, and when they sold poorly FIFA introduced packages combining good seats in the stand with tented hospitality, which Mexican American fans bought like hot cakes.

    This time around, FIFA isn't selling its stadium tickets for World Cup 2014 to the public for another year, but is already selling the top category of stadium seats (not boxes) with tented hospitality at a rate of $1000 per match and they are selling well, especially in the USA to people with Mexican names. It's looking increasingly likely that most of the Category 1 seats will be sold out for the knockout stages and major countries' group matches before seats without hospitality even go on the market.

    Fans have a choice. They can hope to pay $250 per match if they are lucky in a ticket ballot, or they can stump up $1000 per match now to guarantee their tickets and get some cocktail sausages and drinks for their extra money.

  • Comment number 12.

    @PaddedCell asks about the Brazil team he will be watching at the Olympics.

    You lucky blighter. English (and Welsh) fans seem not to understand that other countries take the Olympics extremely seriously, and that this Brazil team will be vastly superior to any other team (apart from Barcelona) that you will be able to watch in England for the next couple of years.

    For a start, you will be among the first Europeans to watch Neymar in person, and he is the most exciting young Brazilian talent for decades. But you will also get the playmaker Ganso, the pacey Lucas Moura and the excellent striker Leandro Damiao. And the over-age players will be pretty tasty too - almost certainly Thiago Silva and Hulk, plus AN Other.

    I've got tickets for a Quarter Final, Semi Final and the Final, and I'm hoping to get to watch Brazil, Spain and Uruguay, each of whose Olympic teams could realistically go far as full senior teams in 2014.

  • Comment number 13.

    1998 in France, 2nd Round. Brazil 4 - 1 Chile. In group stages they drew all three games. 2010 in South Africa, 2nd Round. Brazil 3 - 0 Chile, but this time they won 2 of 3 games in group stages. Not the first time in the 2nd round, and since they didn't take the chances they had against Spain, they got a tough 2nd round draw (Portugal would have been winnable). Ditto for their Copa America performance, they need a top striker otherwise they'll always end up as the bridesmaid, thereby proving point that outside of Europe it's USUALLY only Brazil and Argentina who have the firepower to get to the final.
    That said, I always prefer to see a South American side play than everyone but the top 2 European sides (Spain & Germany). A European championship with 24 teams is coming up, from 2016. The quality will surely be diluted, maybe even 6-4-0 Scotland will qualify.

  • Comment number 14.

    I guess the not only Pataguay troubled Spain in 2010, but also Switzerland (the only country to beat Spain in recent years!).

  • Comment number 15.

    I guess not only Paraguay troubled Spain in 2010, but also Switzerland (the only country to beat Spain in recent years!).

  • Comment number 16.

    Good blog as usual Tim, South American football is definitely as strong as European football. Not sure about Paraguay being Spain's most even game at the last world cup though, I remember them losing to Switzerland, and being taken to extra-time in the final. In fact, Honduras were the only team they beat by more than 1 goal in all 7 games in the tournament.
    @dimitrivdr: I think you are being very harsh on Uruguay, they are currently ranked number 3 in the world rankings (the only non-European team in the top 5), they were the only non-European team to reach the semi-finals of the last world cup and they won the last Copa America to be held (in 2011). They have also won the world cup twice (same amount of times as Argentina), and have made the semi-finals or better or more occasions than Argentina, so why are you deeming them so inferior. Also out of the five teams to have won the world cup more than once, three are South American. Could you name the 10 teams you consider to be favourites as you eluded to in your comment. In the 2010 tournamnet, only three of the eight group-stage table toppers were European (Spain, Germany, Netherlands) with four South American and also USA, again showing a more level playing field than you seem to believe.

  • Comment number 17.

    Tim, I saw the Brazil vs Denmark, USA and Mexico games. This team looks like a work in progress with loads of potential. Question for you, do you see Oscar and Ganzo ever playing together in midfield?

  • Comment number 18.

    Messi, Neymar, Lavezzi, Cavani, Aguero - The most exciting players in world football today. None will be at Euro 2012.....very few European players to really get excited about watching at the moment

  • Comment number 19.

    And Falcao..!

  • Comment number 20.

    Venezuela are indeed shaping up to be a scarily dangerous side. As a Chilean (well, an Anglo-Chilean to be precise...) I dread every time we face them. I'm sure every team that visits them - even now - feels confident. But the reality is that they are solid team, tough to break down.

    Personally, I'm not at all positive with this Borghi side. To play a fast-paced, free-flowing game in the style of Bielsa requires A LOT of effort and practice. Borhi doesn't seem to have done his homework - none of the players run fast enough and they don't play with enough conviction. Coming back from Chile last summer I was delighted to sit to one of the squad's relatives. He told me that his brother was completely disillusioned with Borghi. The thing with Bielsa is that ALL the team believe 100% in the system... We were very, very lucky against Bolivia. If Bolivia were a better side, they would have snuck in three or four goals.

    To address the blog post more (sorry to have veered off topic) - the world cup itself is testament to the fact that it consists of far more than Europe. Every four years, at least in the group stages, all the South American sides completely outperform the European sides. Everyone acknowledges this, too. (Despite this fact, television programming is still very reticent about broadcasting the South American qualifiers...) South America teams play with far more bite and 'garra'; without this, the tournament would be very, very tame. One only need remember the first round of games in the first instalment. After a succession of dull, cautious sides came Chile with a fearless approach. Everyone's jaw dropped.

  • Comment number 21.

    @comment 18/19 - Neil, no there's no exciting talent in europe - Xavi, Iniesta, Silva RVP, Gotze, Robben, Ribery, Eriksen, Balotelli, Ozil, Mata, Nasri, Benzema, Sneijder shall i go on? oh yes and Ronaldo! Not sure about everybody else but i'm looking forward to it. The only sad part is i couldn't add any English players to that list!

  • Comment number 22.

    yakubusdiet

    I'd have to disagree. The latter stages of the World Cup are dominated by European teams - look at the manner in which Germany destroyed Argentina, and the Germans are even stronger now. Paraguay are a brutal team to watch, the fact that they reached the Copa America final without actually winning a game is embarrassing.

    If Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay were playing in the Euros this summer I would still say a Spain-Germany final would be the most likely outcome.

  • Comment number 23.

    funny Tim, I always heard the saying as "without Brazil AND Argentina"... never only "without Brazil".

  • Comment number 24.

    23 - I'm not responsible for the headline - if you read the text you'll find the full expression in the first sentence.

  • Comment number 25.

    Paraguay's Copa America campaign (when they reached the final without winning a game) was the last gasp of the Gerardo Martino regime.
    But a year earlier in the World Cup I don't think they were brutal to watch at all - proof being their performance against Spain. Switzerland beat the eventual champions with blanket defence, the much vaunted Germans hardly crossed the half way line, Holland were certainly brutal - Paraguay were the one side with the swagger about them to go toe to toe with Spain.

  • Comment number 26.

    What about Bolivia, do they show any signs, at senior or youth level; on or off the pitch; of copying the rise of Venezuela and Ecuador? Do they have any up-and-coming players in which to build a team around for 2018?

    http://maddenblog.wordpress.com

  • Comment number 27.

    A World Cup without Brazil and Argentina? Fact is that apart from Europe's top 5 or 6 (Spain, Italy, Germany,Holland, France,) and the aforementioned 2 from South America, there are about 20 or so nations who are in the second tier. This includes the likes of England, Portugal, Sweden, Czech Republic from Europe, the United States, Mexico, South Korea, Japan, Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire, Egypt, Nigeria..... The statement is patronizing to Asia and Africa in particular !!!!

  • Comment number 28.

    Spain doesn't deserve the World Cup. They received the referees help in most of the games.

  • Comment number 29.

    *referees'

  • Comment number 30.

    Venezuela is a nice surprise, and now it appears that Bolivia is now the whipping boy in South America(Boggles the mind how they still took points off Argentina). But a side a team should fear in the next World Cup, if they make it, will be Colombia. Talented up front, great manager in Pekerman, and if they can work off the chinks in the back(get rid of Yepes)then they will be a team nobody will want to run into. South America has become more than Brazil and Argentina, it seems like every WCQ there is a surprise. I doubt the WC leaves South America in 2014, Argentina if they can fix the MF and get rid of Pablo Zabaleta,and Clemente Rodriguez, and start to give Matías Rodríguez of Universidad de Chile, or Gino Peruzzi from Velez a chance they will improve. Young but yet talented.

  • Comment number 31.

    Tim - got to pull you up on one throwaway comment... South Korea needed a lot more than home advantage to get to the semis in 2002. Ask the Italians or Spanish... or more appropriately, FIFA? (Off topic but should never be forgotten as an illustration of what FIFA considers what's "for the good of the game")

  • Comment number 32.

    It boggles the mind how people always bring up South Korea needed help to reach the World Cup semis when Spain needed the referees' help in most games in order to win the World Cup.

    Also, why didn't the referees help Japan in 2002.

  • Comment number 33.

    *?

  • Comment number 34.

    @dimitrivdr let me remind you Uruguay are ranked 3rd behind Spain and German ahead of many European clubs. They have serious talent therefore before making comments take your european tinted glasses off.

  • Comment number 35.

    I like how before the World Cup European people expected the likes of Greece and Denmark to do well but they were outclassed by South Korea and Japan.

  • Comment number 36.

    After Mexico's 2-0 win over a very strong Brasil side, are you, and others in Brasil still backing them? I said when he was sacked that getting rid of Dunga based on one bad result (Although an important one) was ridiculous.

    Seems pretty clear Brasil have gone backwards the past 2 years. The team has no clear identity, no clear style of play, seems to select players randomly, and is horribly inconsistent as a result. Dunga must be laughing his socks off!

    ......................i'll still back them to win the next World Cup though. lol

  • Comment number 37.

    What bias, prejudice and utter nonsense. Uruguay was the best South American team, Ghana was better than all European teams bar 3. Of the teams in the Euro 12 Ireland, Greece, Poland, Ukraine, Denmark, England, Croatia, will struggle to beat any top African team and yet, the so called western media continuously to be stuck in precolonial behaviors and attitudes.
    The funny thing about football is that in Africa, no European team is feared as they are all thought of as collection of men that learnt football unlike Africans, Spaniards and South Americans that have skills.

  • Comment number 38.

    I agree with 27. - Brazil + Argentina + Germany + Italy + Holland + Spain + 2 = the top 8 in the world - the additional 2 are not restricted to Europe by any means - Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria, South Korea, Japan, France, Portugal, etc could all vie for those last two spots - if we expand it to the top 16 in the world we could easily have a 8-3-3-2 split between Europe-SouthAmerica-Africa-Asia - hence in my view why Africa and Asia have been given more berths at the World Cup in the last 15-odd years - the title of the blog is almost like a throwback to the mid-1970s - just look at the composition of the last 16 in the World Cup for the last 20-odd years - just because we in Europe didn't necessarily know much about these teams didn't stop them from making their presence felt

  • Comment number 39.

    Let's not forget New Zealand - the only unbeaten side at the last World Cup

  • Comment number 40.

    I don't think the statement is that far off the truth, actually. With 16 teams in the final tournament, a look at the FIFA rankings (yes, not the be all and end all, I know), if Europe were to invite 2 'guest teams', in the same way CONMEBOL does for the Copa America, these would be Uruguay and Brazil. The other 14 European teams are all ranked within the first 18. The only top 16 teams not present in this hypothetical scenario would be Argentina, Chile and Ivory Coast. Actually, with the tournament expanding to 24 as of France 2016, I would be for 1 or 2 guest teams from outside UEFA. Not sure if it's better to have (for example) Macedonia in the finals, or Brazil....

  • Comment number 41.

    I'm sorry Tim I love your columns but your defence of S American football in comparison to European is feeble, Europe is the centre of the world in football terms, it may have some of the 'dullest' teams but it also has the vast majority of the best ones, thats just simple fact borne out every four years.


    and koickersane Spain is in Europe.

  • Comment number 42.

    Tim, It is a shame the rest of the BBC doesn't share your passion for South American football. In fact the BBC seems to be one of the worst offenders as far as coverage of South American football (with the obvious exception of your blog) and world football on the whole (zero coverage of the african cup).

    At the weekend I tried to find out the scores for the World Cup qualifications and they didn't (and still don't appear) on the site. However you can find out that Malta beat Luxemburg 2-0 in a friendly and that Honduras beat El Salvador 3-0 in another friendly. I can't for my life see why these results are more important than South American world cup qualifiers where many of the most skillful players in the world are playing.

  • Comment number 43.

    @40 DutchCourage, European teams are overvalued in the FIFA World rankings because of the criteria in the formula used. FIFA has this performance ranking of confederations in the past three World Cups (they use it as a multiplier).

    UEFA and CONMEBOL get a multiplier of 1 (FIFA actually tweaked the multiplier calculation so that UEFA is equal to CONMEBOL). CONCACAF has a multiplier of 0.88, AFC and CAF has a multiplier of 0.86 and OFC has one of 0.85.

    For example, if a team plays against either Albania or Qatar they would gain more points if they won against Albania simply because Albania is in Europe (even though Albania and Qatar have the same ranking - 84). If they lost to Albania they would lose less points than they would against Qatar (although the loss scenario depends on whether they are from a "stronger" confederation than Qatar).

    Since teams mainly play against teams from their own confederation this means European teams will gain more points when they win and lose less points when they lose than countries from other confederations. So for example, a European team ranked 18th is overvalued compared to an African team ranked 18th. The African team would be stronger because his points are harder to come by.

    Also, FIFA ranking averages points over periods so playing a lot more games and winning doesn't really help your ranking much if your opponents are weak as they drag down your average (I say this because people might say Europeans play less international games so they would gain less points; that's a myth).

  • Comment number 44.

    koickarsane

    Firstly, as someone else has pointed out, Spain is in Europe.

    Secondly, I highly doubt African teams wouldn't fear playing Germany, Holland and Spain, and to a lesser extent Portugal, France and Italy. Your point about European football being a more collective, team game is certainly true, but I would say only South Americans, and the Japanese, could claim to be technically better. African teams are not renowned for flair and individual flamboyance, and Ghana certainly weren't technically the best in South Africa.

    Too many people base their opinions of European football on England, and ignore the rest of Europe. In 5 years time I think the 3 best players in the world will be Neymar, Thiago Alcantara and Mario Gotze. 2 Europeans, 1 South American.

  • Comment number 45.

    I usually enjoy your articles Tim, however with this one I’m reminded of something an English bloke once wrote “The lady doth protest too much, methinks”. You being the lady.

    It’s great to watch different styles of football, that’s one of the things that makes the world cup so enjoyable. Trying to say one is “better” than the other is pointless.

  • Comment number 46.

    @43, I made a mistake with the loss scenario but the point still remains.

  • Comment number 47.

    Chile made the second round of the World Cup in France 98, then in South Africa in 2010, for the second time in a world cup outside of Chile.
    In 1962 (exactly 50 years ago this month) Chile hosted the World Cup and finished third, after beating Switzerland (3-1), Italy (2-0), the USSR (2-1) and Yugoslavia (1-0), and losing to eventual Champions Brazil in the semifinals.
    In 1930 Chile beat France and Mexico before losing to Argentina, and missed the semifinals, and finished 5th overall in the table.

  • Comment number 48.

    @ 7

    Couldn't have said it better myself.

    It really is not an unfair assessment of the current situation and state of world football. Whilst there has been, in the recent past, a few WC's where an African team have surprised everyone, they dont always get as far as people imagine they did, and havent ever made a semi. Other than that, there have been the two "blips on the radar" of S Korea and Uruguay to an otherwise total domination of WC SF's of European teams plus Brazil and Argentina. In fact from 2002 you have to go all the way back to 70's, when Uruguay made the SF, to find a team outside the Euro/BR/AR group.

  • Comment number 49.

    45 - I'm not trying lto argue that South American national teams are better than the Europeans - though I do certainly think that qualification in South America is better, because no one is making up the numbers.

    But the best national teams at the moment are European, which is not really surprising. All of their players are congregated in the major leagues, which nowadays are global leagues, so they are exposed to the best in the world on a weekly basis. Even if they have fewer players to call on than in the past (because of the foreign presence), then those they can call on are battle hardened - providing this can be combined with the retention of a collective footballing identity (which is to my mind one of the areas where England have probably struggled) then they are well placed for success.

    Nevertheless, it is striking that South America produced 4 of the last 8 in South Africa - and that unlike some of the European teams, none of the South Americans were just cluttering up the competition.

  • Comment number 50.

    ..... and anyway the main point of the comparisons was to draw people in to an article that funnelled in on the Venezuelan national team!

  • Comment number 51.

    I thought the Copa America was a World Cup without Germany and Italy ;)

    Not including Spain as it still remains to be seen if they will remain strong once their golden generation retires...

  • Comment number 52.

    @49 "...Nevertheless, it is striking that South America produced 4 of the last 8 in South Africa - and that unlike some of the European teams, none of the South Americans were just cluttering up the competition..."

    exactly, shouldn't that tell FIFA something about the sheer number of european qualifying places?...Quite a few of them are just a waste of space when they make it to the World Cup. It would be much more attractive for football fans to see some african team that's willing to give it a go at least.

  • Comment number 53.

    I agee with you Tim that the Dutch were 'brutal' in the Final in 2010 - and I am living in Holland. Amazingly there are many many people here who do NOT want Holland to win the Euro championships because they do not like Bart van Marwijk's style of play and the fact that he plays the 'thug' Nigel de Jong (he has SEVERLEY injured 3 players in the Premiership) and his son-in-law Mark van Bommel in the midfield. Both should have been sent-off in the World Cup final because of their persistent foul tactics. There is a feeling here that there there is no need to play both hard men together and the team would benefit from having van der Vaart replace one of the two, but van Marwijk persists with his negative tactics. Many hope that a group stage exit will lead to van Marwijk standing down. It is the 'group of death' with Germany, Denmark and Portugal being the other 3 countries.

  • Comment number 54.

    Tim - “though I do certainly think that qualification in South America is better, because no one is making up the numbers.”
    I don’t. And I reckon if I was a plumber from the Faroe Islands playing against England at Wembley I’d be loving it!

    I watched about 15 minutes of the Uruguay vs Venezuela game last weekend, I was surprised at the amount of “midfield tennis” for two national teams. I did enjoy some different football though, they seem to have more space.

    It’s difficult to compare qualifying in South America and Europe, they’re on a different scale. Are you saying that all 10 South American teams should automatically qualify for the world cup? You might be right. How would that affect standards and motivation over the long term?

    I did a bit of googling and found that five South American teams did not qualify for the 2010 world cup:
    Ecuador 6th
    Colombia 7th
    Venezuela 8th
    Bolivia 9th
    Peru 10th

    Which of the 13 European qualifiers were “cluttering up the competition”, and should have been replaced by one of the South American teams?

    Denmark group 1 winners
    Switzerland group 2 winners (ranked 13 in the world at the time)
    Slovakia group 3 winners (Czech Republic and Poland were in their qualifying group)
    Germany group 4 winners
    Spain group 5 winners
    England group 6 winners (pre-tournament choices only)
    Serbia group 7 winners (France, Romania and Austria were in their qualifying group)
    Italy group 8 winners
    Netherlands group 9 winners
    France play-off winners
    Greece play-off winners (ranked 16 in world at the time, Euro champs 6 years earlier)
    Slovenia play-off winners (beat Russia in the play-off)
    Portugal play-off winners

  • Comment number 55.

    Europe, Africa and South America has too many World Cup spots.

  • Comment number 56.

    *have

  • Comment number 57.

    764dak - so what is your solution? Give more to CONCACAF so we have Canada, Trinidad, Barbados, Guatamala, Belize etc. or perhaps more to the Asians so that Uzbekistan, Malaysia, Thailand (all BIG names of football) can take part. The Africans still complain that they should have more places. I moaned when they increased the number of participants in the Finals from 16 to 24 and then, heaven forbid, it went to 32. I dread to think of the day when Blatter or his FIFA successor gets voted in by promising to increase the number to 40 plus. It will happen.
    The Euro championships are being devalued as in 2016 we will see an increase in numbers which lowers the standard and extends the competition........BUT .... makes more money, which is all that matters these days.

  • Comment number 58.

    "The phrase is unfair on Africa and Asia, where South Korea have made a consistent contribution to recent World Cups. If they needed home advantage to reach the semi-finals in 2002, then so did England in 1966 and France in 1998 to register their only wins."

    You're 100% correct Tim. Any England fan who tries to deny that any home advantage they had in 66 wasn't boosted by the fact FIFA was run by them back then is deluded.

    I also agree that the statement in your opening paragraph is hugely unfair on nations from other continents in previous World Cup's who achieved far more than the media led us to believe they were capable of.

    However, I enjoy the continental tournamenets far more than i do the World Cup, which, other than France 98, is always a massive disappointment. Euro 2008 was easily the most entertaining 3 weeks of of football I've ever seen (possibly because i wasn't waiting for England to get knocked out before i could start enjoying it), and that's because the pool was arguably stronger than that of any World Cup, and i guess that could be where the 'World Cup without Brazil' reference may have some relevance. As much as the world cup is about teams from all over the globe getting the chance to make a name for themselves, I'd love for the world cup to be downgraded in size, probably to about 16 teams, to increase the quality of teams on offer.

  • Comment number 59.

    I think the 3 Euro teams, Holland Spain and Germany are way ahead of Brazil and Argentina at the moment. Having watched the Brazil vs Mexico game, the brazilians really lacked guile and firepower up front. Damiao and Hulk are one dimensional, Neymar is weak and overrated, he would not be a success in the Euro leagues. Pato is too inconsistent and injury prone. If Mano does not start picking Kaka, Ramires Diego and maybe even Fabiano, this Brazil team is preparing for failure. I'd like to hear Tim's view on this, he has been very quiet on Brazil's preparation for 2013/2014 and Mano Meneses failures. At least Dunga won the Copa America and the Confed Cup by setting up his teams to be more cohesive and incisive..Dunga was a winner and experienced after his 1994 WC triumph, Mano is out of his depth and lacks the ability to pick the right players. How much longer before Brazil change managers?
    As for Argentina, they too are a work in progress, so many talented forwards but a weak defense. If they were to come up against a strong Euro team they will fail also..

  • Comment number 60.

    This article is as biased as the expression it seeks to address with a mere passing mention of the African continent as if it were just a country. But for poor officiating and outright intent official elimination I think some African countries have played the most exceptional football ever witnessed at the World Cup.

  • Comment number 61.

    This article is as biased as the expression it seeks to address with a mere passing mention of the African continent as if it were just a country. But for poor officiating and outright intent of official elimination I think some African countries have played the most exceptional football ever witnessed at the World Cup.

  • Comment number 62.

    Tim, I enjoy your articles but this one does seem to start off on the defensive. It's interesting you say that the headline was in a Rio newspaper. I don't think that opinion is shared in Europe at all, there is huge respect for South American football.
    There is still a condescending attitude towards some of the Africa/Asia/Oceania teams who make it to World Cup final tournaments. See Wesley Sneijder comments last week for an example.

  • Comment number 63.

    Thee criticisms of the Brazil Olympic team surprise me. They have played 3 games in a week, while the Copa Libertadores is continuing.

    The coach still hasn't worked out who two of his senior players are going to be to top up the Under-23s, so it is quite literally a work in progress.

    But would any Euro 2012 team not fear a team whose 4-2-3-1 can have Pato up front with Neymar, Ganso and Lucas Moura just behind?

    I'm not that excited about the upcoming Euros, but I'm virtually counting the days til I get to watch Brazil at the Olympics!

  • Comment number 64.

    @ paddedcell - one to watch out for is Oscar the little number 10 from Internacional... not sure what Tim thinks of him but looks an amazing talent...

    The Brazilian Olympic side will feature many players who are in line for a World Cup 2014...

    expect to see the likes of Neymar, Sandro, Pato, Lucas Moura, Oscar, Bruno Uvini (sp?), goalkeeper Rafael, danilo...

    still the big decision to made over the 2 over 23´s...

    Thiago Silva will I am sure captain the side...

    Enjoy.. watching neymar alone bullying

  • Comment number 65.

    @54 "...Which of the 13 European qualifiers were “cluttering up the competition”, and should have been replaced by one of the South American teams?"

    Maybe you should read that part again...Tim never mentioned those dull european teams should've been replaced by a South American team. He only mentions they're dull. I'd add they suffer from big stage panic and just try not to lose.

    In 2010?...Switzerland...parked the bus in every single game, even against Honduras when they needed to win!

    Slovakia, Slovenia...yawn... Greece...they're just not made for the big stage. And in general, any team that doesn't even try to win...Ireland and Norway also come to mind from previous world cups...and when you think it can't get any worse...you get England and Ireland in the same group...zzzzzzzzzzzz

    I'd start with taking 2 spots from Europe and giving them to Africa and Asia, yes, they may be naive in their play but at least they'll be more entertaining.

  • Comment number 66.

    @59 "At least Dunga won the Copa America and the Confed Cup by setting up his teams to be more cohesive and incisive."

    Dunga's Brazil was a solid, very efficient team of hardworkers that played to Brazil's strength, the counterattack.

    The current team?...not only Neymar, but the whole Brazil team is weak and overrated and considering they won't have any really competitive games until the WC they're setting themselves up for another "Maracanazo", although I doubt they will even make it to the final this time.

    Brazil could be a very strong team if Dunga was still in charge but they want to go back to the Jogo Bonito without players talented enough to support such style, including Neymar, who still needs to learn a lot about playing football.

  • Comment number 67.

    @57, For starters, OFC should get one automatic World Cup place. Also, North America and Asia should get more places.

  • Comment number 68.

    764dak -you are you on about? You say North America should get one more place.
    There is only Canada left in North America after the USA so are you advocating an automatic place for Canada? I think you may be thinking about Central America and as I said previously these teams all come under the CONCACAF banner. As it is they get 3 automatic places now which many people feel is one too many, as the USA and Mexico always qualify and then it is one from anyone (Costa Rica, Jamaica etc).
    It would be totally ludicrous to give CONCACAF another place (I think that is what you mean).

  • Comment number 69.

    @ kippax_white and TheChamp_IS_Here: At no stage did I say that Uruguay lack talent, nor do I wish to diminish their achievement at the 2010 World Cup. In fact, I won a significant sum of money on a bet predicting they would grab third place. Let's face facts, it was the exception, partly thanks to their incredible attitude and a brilliant front line.

    We shouldn't forget the context of their achievement. They won a group with a poor South African side that probably wouldn't have qualified if they weren't hosts, a Mexican side that was beaten 3-1 in the next round by Argentina and drew 0-0 against a France side that had completely imploded. Their route to the semis involved wins against South Korea and Ghana. The first time they came up against European opposition, the dream was over. The next time they played a European side (Germany) they missed out on 3rd place. Total number of European sides beaten: 0.

    You then refer to their World Cup wins and semi-finals reached in past World Cups. I thought we were talking about the modern game, as in the last 20 years. Forgive me if I deem World Cups won in 1930 and 1950 and semi-finals of 1954 and 1970 irrelevant to the "current state of affairs".

    As for FIFA rankings, let's be honest, they are not necessarily representative of the strength of a team. Greece has spent most of the last 10 years in the top 20 (and even managed 8th!!!) of the FIFA rankings. Does this make them automatic favourites to win the World Cup? Of course not. That's why the World Champion is not based on the FIFA rankings, but on tournaments, where the best have to beat each other to earn that title.

    Based on results of tournaments since 1990, a grand total of 7 teams (outside the traditional elite) out of a possible 48 reached the final 8. Of those, only 2 beat a European side to get to that stage. That's 2 out of 48.

    I'm not saying that teams outside the traditional elite aren't catching up. I'm just saying they have a way to go before we stop referring to the World Cup as the Euros + Argentina and Brazil.

  • Comment number 70.

    How is it ludicrous to give CONCACAF another place? The Uruguayan team that went to World Cup barely scraped by Costa Rica in a play-off. Costa Rica's U-23 team barely lost against Colombia in Copa America and they beat Bolivia 2-0 (could have easily been 6-0). Honduras played badly in World Cup because of injuries and fitness issues and yet Switzerland still parked the bus against them when they had to win. CONCACAF should get 4 automatic spots (and no playoffs)

    Asia should get more spots. The only problem with Asia is that a small team such as North Korea might sneak through while stronger teams don't qualify.

  • Comment number 71.

    Euro = World Cup - (CONMEBOL + CONCACAF + AFC + CAF + OFC) + 3 more UEFA teams

  • Comment number 72.

    I thought this weekends matches would see the "bigger" teams move away from the rest in the CONMEBAL table but Uruguays slip up means that the group is still quite tight.

    I sat and watch Messi tear apart Ecuador at will and was quite surprised by their capitulation. Their defence (apart from Ayovi) looked wuite vunerable and with barely 20 caps between them they lacked the experience for a big game. Messi and Di Maria seemed to breeze past the midfield and the defence were pensive at best.

    I don't think Ecuador were particularly terrible but Argentina didn't give them a look in. In the 2nd half Argentina needed only to soak up and counter attack.

    http://footballintheclouds.wordpress.com/2012/06/03/messi-rules-in-the-monumental-6/

    The Ecuadorians lay the blame at coach, Reino Ruelda and if theu are beaten on Sunday versus Columbia its hard to see him holding on to his job.

    5 teams should join Brazil at the World Cup 2014 (5th place will play-off with an Asian qualifier) so 2 extra should join perenial qualifiers Argentina,Uruguay and Paraguay.

    Venezuela have been impressive but not exactly surprising as they were excellent in last years Copa America. I'm not sure if they will last the distance but surely will be in the mix with Chile,Columbia and Ecuador for the remaining 2 places.

    I'm going to the Ecuador vs Columbia game on Sunday afternoon. It should be a sell out in the Atahaulpa and a terrific experience. I've been told to expect an early start and to bring my boots.(Ecuadorians still don't appreciate the fact that i'm Scottish and this a normal matchday experience for me).

    I've murmurings that Falcoa is injured, which should improve Ecuadors chances but Columbia still have a fine team. A wn puts Ecuador back in contention, a home loss is fairly disasterous.

    Tim, I,ve heard you talk a fair bit about Giovani Dos Santos and wonder what your opinion on him is now. Especially as a Spurs fan and his goal against Brazil at the weekend (Did he mean it???).

    http://footballintheclouds.wordpress.com/2012/06/04/the-conundrum-that-is-giovanni-dos-santos/

    Not sure if Spurs and Redkna-pp will persevere with him but there is no doubting his talent.

  • Comment number 73.

    @ 68

    Mexico is part of North America, regardless I agree, it would be ridiculous to have another team from the Concaf group which is really poor.

  • Comment number 74.

    All this talk about which confederation deserves more spots is ridiculous. The World Cup does not have the strongest teams.

    I will use the Olympics as an example. You're only allowed up to 3 100m sprinters in each gender in the Olympics (not including relays). The 4th or 8th fastest American could be faster than the fastest Icelandic or Zimbabwean or Ecuadorian but that would not matter. At the end of the day the fastest person in the world would still win just like how the strongest team in the world will win the World Cup.

  • Comment number 75.

    Also, in the World Cup only 6 of 13 European teams made it to the knockout round. How are these 7 European teams more worthy of a spot than a team from another confederation that won't make it to past the group stage? Is it just because they are in Europe? How is that fair?

  • Comment number 76.

    Still, not as bad as the BBC Pundits "expert" picks for the Euro winner. Alan Hansen's is especially informative as he has seemingly invented his own rules for qualifications from the group stages by including Germany, Netherlands and Portugal as 3 of his 4 picks.

    You will note now the BBC have realised this misjudgement and Hansen has only 3 picks (compared to everyone else) with commentary still alluding to Portugal being successful.

    Typical schoolboy howlers like this from shocking BBC punditry. Why on earth is he paid 1.5m per year?

  • Comment number 77.

    I think the representation of teams from the different federations at the World Cup is about right. I don't think it's fair to compare the entertainment at World Cup 2010 with Euro 2008 as there have been plenty of exciting World Cup tournaments and dull European Championships.

    I don't think increasing the number of teams participating in Euro 2016 is a good idea and we certainly don't need any more teams competing in a World Cup.

    I personally think Euro 2012 will good to watch as a lot of teams seem to be set up to play attractive, attacking football - apart from England of course!

  • Comment number 78.

    @76

    Well if you are going to be such a pedant yourself, then you could at least have got his salary correct. Mr Hansen was recently required to take a pay cut and is now on a paltry 1m a year, not that it has anything to do with the subject matter mind.

  • Comment number 79.

    78.At 15:26 6th Jun 2012, Frank Black wrote:
    ____________________________

    Hahaha!! I did read that it was 1.5m but I couldn't remember what it was reduced to. Still, he gets paid 1m for sitting around 1/2 days per week complaining about poor defending, lavishing praise on LFC and saying he's never seen a worse utd side (each season). Not to mention his occassional articles on the beeb website and some "expert" predictions / analysis. Even the armchair pundits are on a par with Hansen if not more inciteful.

    Tim never reads past the first day, but still interesting points you raise. I'm not sure how credible they are however. Granted Uruguay are riding high at the moment, but Argentina & Brazil are comparitively weaker. You only have to look at the dominating FIFA rankings. Or even the semi finalists in the last WC. A couple of people (players / managers) have said that it is harder to win the Euros than WC, and I'd be inclined to agree.

  • Comment number 80.

    @79

    If Gyan had managed to convert that penalty against Uruguay then there would have been no South American teams in the semis of the last World Cup.

    I'd say it is currently easier to progress from the group stages of a World Cup than in the Euros. In the knockout stages the World Cup is probably slightly tougher (primarily because you need 4 victories instead of 3 to win the tournament). So overall i'd say it was about even.

  • Comment number 81.

    @79

    I assume you meant armchair pundits were more insightful?

  • Comment number 82.

    80.At 15:58 6th Jun 2012, BaggiosPonytail wrote:
    __________________

    But in the last 16 you could be playing a side that's still quite poor. I mean the top sides get separated from each other anyway so they generally meet in the quarters, but in the Euros it's tough games from the knockout. Some of the groups are massively tough as well. Group D aside, England's is pretty tricky as well.

  • Comment number 83.

    81.At 16:07 6th Jun 2012, BaggiosPonytail wrote:
    @79

    I assume you meant armchair pundits were more insightful?
    ______________________

    Ah yes!! I haven't even checked my own faux par!! Indeed I meant that armchair pundits offer more insight and valuable snippets of knowledge than this:

    ""It is the usual suspects in the final for me. Spain won it last time and they won the World Cup in 2010. They have got the best players so they are the favourites and rightly so, but that doesn't necessarily mean they will win it, and it will be close.

    "As well as the Germans and the Dutch, I think Portugal are in the mix too. Cristiano Ronaldo has been unfortunate before now to play in Portuguese sides at major finals that have been really negative, so he has not shown in tournaments how good he is."

    I have also noticed that they have gone back to showing his 4 predictions and added extra commentary:

    "[Alan's predictions recognise three of his heavily-fancied teams are all in Group B. However, he is tipping the two teams that qualify to do well at Euro 2012.] "

    OR just say that he got it wrong, the commentary he made could have been written by a 10 yo and the 10 yo probably wouldn't have made the same schoolboy error either!

  • Comment number 84.

    @82

    I would agree with you about the last 16 matches. Looking at the last two tournaments where England reached the semi final stage is a good example.

    1990 World Cup

    Last 16 - Belgium

    Quarter Final - Cameroon

    Semi Final - West Germany

    Euro 96

    Quarter Final - Spain

    Semi Final - Germany

    I'd say Spain were tougher opponents than either Belgium or Cameroon. But in the World Cup England had to win an extra match.

  • Comment number 85.

    @81

    Actually, inciteful might be closer to the mark, certainly those on McNulty's blogs ;)

  • Comment number 86.

    @83

    Yes I think most people stopped taking Hansen seriously after his famous 'you won't win anything with kids' comment about United at the start of the 95/96 season.

    I think Spain will miss Puyol at the back and Villa up front so are probably weaker than in the previous two tournaments. Portugal still rely too heavily on Ronaldo and I can't see them getting out of their group.

  • Comment number 87.

    84.At 16:21 6th Jun 2012, BaggiosPonytail wrote:
    ____________________

    I understand that there's an extra match involved, but for me the difference would lie if the extra match was against Germany / Spain / Holland etc or whether it was against Belgium / Ecuador etc. I think there's a stark difference there.

    I mean look at the Group Stages as well.....WC was USA, Algeria, Slovenia versus France, Sweden, Ukraine. I know which group I'd rather have!!

    I have to agree, I think the Euros are tougher.

  • Comment number 88.

    @ Frank Black

    Perhaps you're right!! I know I am partial to the odd WUM now and then but there are a few habitual wummers on there. Speaking of a McNulty blog, no mention on the managerial merry go round?

    @ BaggiosPonytail

    Hansen's been clueless for a while now. I mean he was one of the first football pundits, but you look at the ones in England on the channels and many are either failed managers or players that haven't bothered to manage. Says it all about the quality of their analysis. I mean could you see a team dominating with the likes of Hansen, Lineker, Shearer, "Lawro" or Dixon in charge?

    I think Spain will be fine but it will be interesting to see if they drop their tiki taka style to gain some width. I can see teams parking the bus and playing for draws. They have players like silva, munian, pedro etc that can offer that width, but I get the impression they'll start with xavi, iniesta, alonso, busquets, fabregas.

  • Comment number 89.

    @ 87

    Having thought about the tournaments England have appeared in since 1986 I think you are probably correct.

    World Cups in 1986, 1990, 1998, 2002, 2006 and 2010 - 6 tournaments and progressed from the group stage each time.

    Euros in 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000 and 2004 - 5 tournaments and only progressed from group stage twice (in 1996 and 2004).

    Ok I agree, Euros are slightly tougher.

  • Comment number 90.

    89.At 17:15 6th Jun 2012, BaggiosPonytail wrote:
    ____________________

    Although it's odd that the likes of Holland (quite dominant in the Euros) have never won WC!!

  • Comment number 91.

    @ 90

    Had it not been for internal disputes at several tournaments in the last 20 years they probably would have by now. They have also come up against some superb sides in World Cup finals - West Germany in 1974, Argentina with home advantage in 1978 and of course Spain last time.

  • Comment number 92.

    @90

    The Dutch have only won the Euros once though and even on that occasion they needed a last gasp win against Ireland to get out of their group. I tend to agree that it is more difficult to get out of the groups but the same is probably the case in the Copa.

  • Comment number 93.

    @ Baggio & Frank

    My apologies with Netherlands, I thought they'd won it twice with Germany on 2 wins as well!! Italy then a surprise given they've won WC far more times!!

    I think that's forever the missing piece with the Dutch team and total football. Whilst it was revolutionary and won many plaudits they unfortunately had very little in terms of international success. Although the Ajax team can claim 3 back to back CL wins.

  • Comment number 94.

    @ 92

    Well if Russia had beaten Greece 3-1 rather than 2-1, Spain would have qualified ahead of them and history would be different now!! And it was close because we hit the post a couple of times as well!!

  • Comment number 95.

    @ 94

    Well yes, those are the fine margins. Of course it happens in the World Cup also but I would guess without less often. The better teams generally negotiate the groups more easily.

  • Comment number 96.

    87. At 16:56 6th Jun 2012, eduard_streltsov_ghost wrote:

    "I understand that there's an extra match involved, but for me the difference would lie if the extra match was against Germany / Spain / Holland etc or whether it was against Belgium / Ecuador etc. I think there's a stark difference there.

    I mean look at the Group Stages as well.....WC was USA, Algeria, Slovenia versus France, Sweden, Ukraine. I know which group I'd rather have!!

    I have to agree, I think the Euros are tougher."

    This example with England is a bad one since their only win was against a European team.

  • Comment number 97.

    Statistical analysis and predictions actually show that the World Cup is harder to win than the Euro.

  • Comment number 98.

    @ 94 Frank Black

    Yep this is why I think it is harder, simply because fine margins like that determine whether you qualify or not. Like you say, it's easier to navigate through a group stage in WC.

    @ Realist4

    What do you mean statistical analysis? What analysis? Surely the fact they won in an all european final simply compounds my point that the Euros are tougher?

  • Comment number 99.

    @97

    Well my statistical analysis and predictions show that Germany will win the forthcoming European Championship. Of course I could be wrong.

  • Comment number 100.

    98. At 18:15 6th Jun 2012, eduard_streltsov_ghost wrote:

    @ Realist4

    "What do you mean statistical analysis? What analysis? Surely the fact they won in an all european final simply compounds my point that the Euros are tougher?"

    That does not even make any sense. That is like saying if Brazil and Argentina meet in a World Cup final the Copa America would be tougher than World Cup.

 

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