World Cup 2014: South America’s Tournament
The build up to the World Cup is well under way, friendlies are in place, stadiums are built (almost), and managers are rigorously flicking through tactics books and player profiles to decide who is going to figure in Brazil.
The World Cup’s history has often been dominated by South American teams, there was Uruguay in the inaugural tournament, and Argentina and Brazil have taken multiple since, but in the last few years the competition has been dominated by Europe. Not anymore.
Four of the world’s top 10 lie on the continent whilst Chile are certainly being seen as dark horses for Rio, with the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Arturo Vidal being key figures for Jorge Sampaoli’s men.
Most international head coaches are viewing June’s tournament completely different to previous World Cups. USA manager Jurgen Klinsmann recently told ESPNFC.com, “I call this tournament the ‘World Cup of Patience’.”
Because of the Brazilian style of life, there will be a lot of surprises waiting. It’s not going to be a perfect World Cup for anybody.”
And that could play into the South Americans hands, especially in terms of climate. The heat in Brazil has been a major talking point since they won the bid back in 2007, and is perhaps one of the reasons they are firm favourites, with Free Bets showing them around 4-1. But that can also apply to their neighbouring countries.
Therefore the tournament could boil down to in-form individuals. Colombia have already been dealt a huge blow following Radamel Falcao’s cruciate ligament injury playing for Monaco recently, whilst the likes of Edison Cavani, Luis Suarez, and of course, Lionel Messi all expected to play a huge part. But it may be a different player that could spur Brazil onto their sixth World Cup, a home crowd.
It’s unlikely we will have ever witnessed a tournament with an atmosphere that’s to be expected in Brazil, and it could be the driving force behind a home win for Neymar and co.
Of course it isn’t just a samba-like crowd that makes Brazil a real threat this year, the team, after a few years of transition, can once again be mentioned in the same breath as Spain and Germany with the likes of Oscar, Thiago Silva, and Neymar being in irresistible form.
They’re unbeaten in six matches, disposing Chile and Portugal in the latter stages of 2013, whilst they also lifted the Confederations Cup last summer with a 3-0 victory over Spain, perhaps suggesting the tides are turning.
Spain will be gunning for a fourth consecutive major tournament victory, and could end up being the Brazilians main rival once again, but with the once relied upon David Villa and Fernando Torres well past their best, and the likes of Barcelona less dominative in Europe, Brazil 2014 could not only be the year for Luis Felipe Scolari, but one that sees a shift in world domination.
World Cup’s in South American nations have always drawn South American winners. Could this year be different? It seems unlikely.