In 2006, we had

  1. Germany
  2. Spain
  3. Italy
  4. England
  5. France
  6. Netherlands
  7. Portugal
  8. Sweden
  9. Ukraine
  10. Switzerland
  11. Ecuador
  12. Mexico
  13. Ghana
  14. Argentina
  15. Brazil
  16. Australia

A bit of analysis: World Cup champions – 6; Europe – 10

Let’s look at 2010:

  1. Uruguay
  2. Paraguay
  3. Argentina
  4. Brazil
  5. Chile

All five countries from South America including the three previous World Cup winners

  1. Japan
  2. Korea

The two best teams from Asia

  1. USA
  2. Mexico

The two best teams from North America

  1. Slovakia
  2. Netherlands
  3. Portugal
  4. England
  5. Germany
  6. Spain

Just six teams from Europe. No Italy, no France, no Switzerland, no Denmark, no one from the Balkans. There is the continental curse – Europe always has a poor performance in tournaments outside the continent. For comparision, let’s check with 2002 held in Korea-Japan.

From Europe we had

  1. Germany (who reached the finals)
  2. Spain
  3. Rep of Ireland
  4. Italy
  5. Denmark
  6. Nigeria
  7. Belgium
  8. Sweden
  9. Turkey

Almost as good as 2006, four years later. So the causality with the continent does not hold. The problem may well be one of strategy. Italy had its aging stars doing their age old defensive play; France were more interested in getting Domenech out of the team; Denmark were outplayed; Slovenia, Switzerland, etc were just not good enough.

BTW, the 16th team is Ghana. Just one out of the six African teams in the World Cup. One must wonder whether it makes sense to give them so many slots. The talking heads yesterday on TV did make an important point about African football – the sense of playing in a team is missing. Each of the players is a star, earning millions of Euros in various leagues across Europe and other parts of the world. But when it comes to playing together in the team, their individual brilliance seems to drag the team in different directions. Players seem to be doing incoherent guerrilla warfare instead of planned synchronised attacks. It is not a surprise that inspite of such star forwards like Drogba, E’Too, Kalou, Martins, Yakubu, etc., the six African teams managed to score just 14 goals in 18 matches. Algeria did not even score. There were totally 3 wins only – South Africa over France (which was monumental for other reasons); Ghana over Serbia and Cote D’Ivoire over North Korea.

Anyway, the world cup now looks truly world cup with teams from all parts of the world progressing into the next round. It makes the tournament open and the chances that we will find an eighth country to win is high. (So far the world cup has been won by 7 countries only).

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