Football: Balance of Football Power shifts to Europe, 8 years of dominance
After the conclusion of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, one thing that can easily be derived is the shifting back of power to Europe in World football. With a Spanish victory in the final, Europe has finally established dominance over their South American rivals. Europe has now won ten World Cup titles compared to South America’s nine. This World Cup victory was the first outside their continent, for Europe.
Spain also happens to be first nation in 32 years to become European Champion and World Champion at the same time. West Germany was the only other team to achieve this incredible feat. They won the European Championship in 1976 and the World Cup in1978. For Spain this is more than just victory. Despite possessing the finest league and producing brilliant players, they previously failed to make any impact on the World stage. Their highest progression in the World Cup before this edition was the last eight. In spite of having a plethora of talent, their major campaigns were plagued by infightings and inability to absorb pressure at the global level. Their consistent below par performance led the Spaniards to be labelled as the ‘chokers’ of world football.
But their present contingent dominated mainly by Barcelona players finally changed history when they not only got past the last eight but went on to win football’s biggest prize. Most of the players in the Spanish team have won almost every major title in football, starting from the club level to the World Cup. Their resume bears illustrious achievements which include winners’ medals from La Liga, Spanish Cup, Champions League, European Championship and now the coveted World Cup.
This is the first time since England succeeded Brazil as winners of the trophy in 1966 there has not been a cyclical victory for a European team and then a South American team. The final conclusion of the World Cup looked very different from the outset of the tournament when several European heavyweights failed to make an eye-catching impact. On the other hand, South Americans started the World Cup brilliantly as five South American teams progressed to the 2nd round and four reached the last eight. But in the end they flattered to deceive. All the three European teams, which qualified to the quarter-final stage, went on to reach last four. But the South American giants Argentina and Brazil produced poor performances as they were eliminated by their European counterparts. Uruguay was the only team which kept the South American flag flying but they too could not get pass the Dutch.
According to UEFA President Michel Platini, European dominance in the World Cup is due to their internal youth structure. Twice semi-finalist with France in 1980s, Platini said, “The three nations who have won the most youth events over the past 10 years are now in the final four”. On the other hand, South Americans need to do lot of soul searching in order to find the cause behind their dismal performance in South Africa. Brazil’s performance in the quarter finals against the Dutch was miles away from the performance of their preceding Samba outfits. Brazilian not only lost control of the match but also their self-control on the pitch unlike the ice-cool Brazilian teams of the past. The Brazilian Football Federation will not want a repeat of that collapse in 2014 especially as they will be hosts.
On the other hand, Argentina has failed to reach beyond the last eight in their last five outings. They last went beyond the quarters in 1990 when Maradona captained them to the final. This time under his management, Argentina was not lucky enough as they were scrubbed by the Germans for a second successive time. Diego Maradona’s tactical inexperience was finally exposed in the World Cup when his side was dismantled by the young Germans 4-0.
South America’s time will surely come again, but for the moment it’s the football reputation of Europe that holds sway. South Americans will have to wait for four years to settle the score with Europeans but it is Europe which has triumphed in South Africa in 2010.