Saturday, June 26, 2010

The best and the worse of the group stages

The group stages are over of an interesting World Cup but with some observations:
  • The African teams have disappointed, with only one, Ghana, progressing on to the next round.
  • While Africans have disappointed, Europe has as well: only six European sides have made it to the last-16 which is also the worse performance of Europe ever. And it is certain that only three teams from Europe will make it to the quarterfinals, so this is already the worse World Cup for Europe ever....
  • All South American teams have progressed to the last-16 and thus this has been by far the best continent. South American is the powerhouse of the world! With USA and Mexico there as well, the western hemisphere has emerged as the dominant footballing power.
  • Asia, with two teams, is doing surprisingly well, but the continental power is surely Oceania (Australia is now qualifying through Asia), whose only participant, New Zealand, has been undefeated!
  • All this said, this has been a very low-scoring tournament, with an average in the first round of 2.10 goals per match, potentially making it the tournament with the least goals ever.
In my view, the best teams of the tournament have been:
  • Argentina: has been excellent under Maradona
  • Uruguay: surprised many, but their attacking power and strong and organised defense should be a surprise to nobody.
  • Spain: Started badly, but certainly deserve to be in the last-16, and remain huge favourites as true strength is shown in the face of adversity.
  • USA: Won a difficult group, with disciplined and organised football, as well as a good fight. They will be extremely difficult to defeat.
  • Germany: I was very surprised about the young side who cruised through Australia, was unlucky against Serbia and organised against the Ghanaians. They are surely one of the most exciting teams.
The most disappointing sides have in my view been:
  • France: simply a soap opera and a lousy joke.
  • Italy: they have been absolutely pathetic in their matches, and deserved the loss to Slovakia, although they showed some will towards the end of the match.
  • Serbia: Serbia was awesome in qualification and came in with a very experienced and strong team. Nevertheless, they played poorly and their early exit was well-deserved but unexpected.
  • Cameroon: African sides have disappointed, but perhaps most of all Cameroon, with three consecutive defeats.
  • South Africa: The first hosts ever to get eliminated in the group stages, and that says it all.
The last-16 will be really exciting!

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