Europes World Cup stranglehold testeby Brazil Argentina

เวลาปล่อย:2022-11-23 แหล่งที่มา:admin

Europes World Cup stranglehold tested by Brazil, Argentina

FILE - FIFA President Gianni Infantino speaks before the 2022 soccer World Cup draw at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Center in Doha, Qatar, Friday, April 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar, File)

FILE - FIFA President Gianni Infantino speaks before the 2022 soccer World Cup draw at the Doha Exhibition and Convention Center in Doha, Qatar, Friday, April 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar, File)

When Gianni Infantino told a gathering of European soccer officials in Vienna he hoped the winner of theWorld Cupcame from their continent, theFIFA President quickly stated with a smile he adapts the comment to whichever region hes in.

Its no laughing matter for the rest of the world.

Seven of the last eight World Cup finalists have come from Europe. Thirteen of the last 16 semifinalists, too.

Only three non-European nations Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay have reached the World Cup final. Uruguay hasnt played in the title match since 1950.

And only two non-European nations other than Brazil and Argentina have reached the semifinals since 1970 South Korea in 2002 and Uruguay in 2010.

No African country has ever gotten to the last four in part because of Luis Surezs last-minute, goal-line handball for Uruguay to deny Ghana in the 2010 quarterfinals and nobody from North America since the United States in the first World Cup in 1930.

Nations from around the world are invited to the party but, really, its mostly the Europeans staying until the end.

You want the World Cup to be a world tournament, soccer author Jonathan Wilson said. Ideally youd have a team from every confederation in the quarterfinals.

You want the best teams, but you want the best teams to come from as many different places as possible. This is a global sport. If it becomes entirely focused on a rich pocket of western Europe, thats boring for everybody.

Wilson puts the recent European dominance down to the continents top soccer nations pumping lots of money and resources into the development of young players what he calls an industrialization of youth production, starting with France at its national soccer center in the 1990s. That was followed by the likes of Germany, Spain and most recently England doing the same.

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These young players are then exposed to their own soccer leagues, which are the strongest and richest in the world.

You have the best facilities, the best teachers, the best people to learn from, Wilson told The Associated Press. Then you are testing yourself against the best.

The only nation to have prevented a European triumph at a World Cup since 1994 was Brazil in 2002. Brazils coach that year, Luiz Felipe Scolari, said he had a spectacular generation remember its storied front three of Ronaldo, Rivaldo and Ronaldinho? and that European nations are now producing better players than before, having studied the 1958 Brazil team which earned the country the first of its record five titles.

Speaking to the AP, Scolari said the current European domination is a phase which could be ended by Brazil in Qatar or, maybe, in 2026.

After all, Brazil will enter the World Cup as the top-ranked team, undefeated in South American qualifying and with only five losses in 76 matches under coach Tite.

This class of 2022 is great, Scolari said. If we dont win now, we can do it in 2026 with one of the best teams.

These kids playing now might give the result we expect but you cant pressure them to give everything. Maybe in four years we can because then they will hit the pinnacle at age 26, 27.

Typically, its Argentina, ranked No. 3 by FIFA and a two-time World Cup champion, rivaling Brazil as the most likely winner from outside Europe. And that should again be the case in Qatar.

While Europes best have been struggling England is winless in six games, France and Germany have won only one of their last six games, Italy hasnt even qualified Argentina has gone 35 games unbeaten under Lionel Scaloni, who has a well-balanced team with more than just a slew of star attackers led by Lionel Messi.

Theres a caveat, though. The introduction of UEFAs Nations League and, to a certain extent, the impact of COVID-19 has meant top European teams go head-to-head more often and rarely face Brazil and Argentina.

Only one such game stands out since the 2018 World Cup: the Finalissima, a newly devised match between the European champions and Copa America winners that saw Argentina beat Italy 3-0 in London in June.

Argentina has played three European teams since the last World Cup. Brazil only one.

Its pretty hard to get a true read on them, said Wilson, whose books include Angels With Dirty Faces: The Footballing History of Argentina. It might not be the worst thing that they go into this tournament with confidence, without a sense of inferiority.

Take away Brazil and Argentina, and its hard to look beyond another winner from Europe, which has the other 10 teams in the top 12 of the FIFA rankings and 13 of the 32 nations in Qatar.

Theres even greater depth to the European challenge these days, too, with nations like 2018 World Cup finalist Croatia, Euro 2020 semifinalist Denmark and Switzerland as consistent and hard to beat as the traditional heavyweights, with more of their players sprinkled around Europes top clubs.

As for African teams, whose World Cup challenge is fronted by African Cup of Nations champion Senegal, they still seem to be held back by a lack of resources off the field more than a lack of talent on it.

(African countries) have so many players playing in Europe at good teams now, I think they should perform better than they do, Lars Lagerback, who coached Nigeria at the 2010 World Cup, told the AP. Theres a lot of challenges, so many people involved around the logistics and everything.

They have the players with the individual skills but you have to have everything around it.

And that, ultimately, is where Europe has the edge.

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