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On air: Why has Europe lasted the World Cup course?

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Ben Sutherland Ben Sutherland | 06:15 UK time, Sunday, 4 July 2010

klose.jpgThis topic was discussed on World Cup Have Your Say on 4 July 2010. Listen to the programme.

For so long, there was discussion about how this was South America's World Cup.

But as we get to the business end of the tournament, out of the four that made the quarter-finals, only one team from that part of the world are left - Uruguay - and that only thanks to the controversial hand of Suarez. Had Asamoah Gyan only managed to convert his penalty, they would have joined Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay on an (admittedly rather large) plane back over the southern Atlantic.

Meanwhile Spain, the Netherlands - and perhaps most impressively, Germany - are awaiting the biggest stage of all.

Why is this? Certainly in the case of Spain and Germany, both countries have strong domestic leagues - indeed, leagues in which the majority of the Dutch and Uruguayan stars play.

But the strength of the domestic league can only be part of the story, otherwise Italy and England would surely have done better.

And while few expected Paraguay to beat Spain, the Netherlands' win over Brazil was more a shock - and the way the Germans thrashed Argentina was jaw-dropping.

They cut out every ball, were devastating on the counter-attack and deprived Tevez, Higuain and Messi of any chance of showing their undoubted quality.

Indeed, the players BBC Sport's David Bond names Messi as one of a "big five" - along with Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, Kaka and Didier Drogba - who failed to perform to expectations at South Africa 2010.

It is the less heralded talent - the likes of Ozil, Sneijder and Lugano - that have really shone, but importantly, as much for their teamwork as any special bit of skill or stunning shot.

As Diego Maradona explained in the aftermath of his side's annihilation:

"It's a very different type of game these days," answered a shell-shocked Maradona. "We were more selfish as players. I wanted to do everything in the team. "But Rooney and Messi will see by themselves that when the team needs them they will be there to play for the team."

Is Maradona right? Has teamwork been the key to Europe's World Cup success? What happened to Brazil and Argentina? And what happened to those star names?

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