FIFA World Cup 2010: What's Wrong with the European Giants?

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FIFA World Cup 2010: What's Wrong with the European Giants?
Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

Every team has now played two games in the 2010 World Cup. As you may have noticed, the European giants aren't performing as they were expected to.

 

France

France are suffering from massive internal conflict. Players have refused to train, there have been resignations, and now it seems that some of the French players may boycott their final group match.

This conflict all stems from Nicholas Anelka having an argument with Raymond Domenech at half time during France's match with Mexico. Unfortunately, there was a press leak and the dressing room situation was made public.

This is never good. It has made the problem far worse. Anelka was sent home, something that wouldn't have happened if the situation hadn't been made public.

Whilst the Anelka incident does explain the French problems since the first half of the Mexico match, it doesn't explain the problems before then.

A dull, poor match against Uruguay was followed up by a poor first half against Mexico. It got worse in the second half, and France promptly conceded two goals to make qualifying a very hard goal to score.

There have been claims of a bust-up between Florent Malouda and Domenech earlier in the week.

The pressure of the World Cup seems to be getting to France as the 2006 runner-ups falter in their attempt to repeat their success of last time around.

 

England

England seem to have similar problems. Back in England, their very successful qualifying campaign created big expectations for the World Cup campaign.

So far, England haven't turned up. A well-publicised error by Robert Green led to England dropping two points. But regardless of the mistake, the performance had been less than impressive.

England's performance against Algeria was one of the worst performances by an English football team that I have ever seen.

Constant reports of problems within the England camp, combined with a dissenting press conference from John Terry, have led to questions over the morale within the England camp.

Fabio Capello's selection hasn't helped matters. The exclusion of Joe Cole seems to have been far from popular, in the squad, and more obviously in the media.

Capello has a reputation for being a disciplinarian. This is thought to be unpopular with the England players who would like to have some more freedom in their down time.

On top of this, England have suffered some bad fortune. Both Rio Ferdinand and Ledley King have suffered demoralising injuries which have also left England poorly covered at centre back.

John Terry's outspoken press conference hasn't have helped matters in this area, with questions over whether or not he will play.

 

Italy

Italy are also suffering. The 2006 champions have underperformed as badly as England and France.

Like England, Italy have amassed two points, including a draw against lowly New Zealand.

They miss the creativity of Andrea Pirlo whilst the injury to Buffon has hurt morale, as well as the team's performance.

Unlike England and France, Italy doesn't seem to have any internal problems, but they could've just done a better job of keeping their affairs private.

Marcello Lippi has said that Italy have lacked the cutting edge. He's right. They have created plenty of chances, but have failed to convert them.

Their squad is also remarkably similar to their 2006 squad. Ageing players—past their prime, have been selected over more youthful players. Will Lippi regret putting faith in his tried and tested players or can they pick up their game one more time?

 

Spain

Spain suffered a shocking 1-0 loss to Switzerland in their first match. Since then, they've picked their game up and showed why they are listed among the favourites with a dominant performance against Honduras. 

Their only worry will be whether or not they can carry on this form or whether they will be dogged by inconsistency for the remainder of the tournament.

 

Germany

Germany have had a similar problem. They opened up with an impressive 4-0 win over Australia. However, they then slumped to a 1-0 loss to Serbia. 

Germany tend to perform above expectations, but the loss of Ballack has been telling, especially in the German press.

Have Germany merely suffered a blip like Spain, or are there deeper issues? Only time will tell. 

If they don't beat Ghana, they could be eliminated or only qualify second. If this were to happen they might meet England in the next round. Although there's a very real chance that England will qualify second as well, or not at all.

 

Portugal

Portugal opened up with a 0-0 draw against the Ivory Coast, but seem to have turned things around with an impressive 7-0 dismantling of North Korea.

Considering Brazil beat North Korea just 2-1, Portugal might be capable of beating the best of teams.

However, against a team such as North Korea, it is impossible to gauge how they would've fared against a better side.

 

Holland

The Netherlands are showing the rest of the European giants how to conduct a World Cup campaign.

They looked comfortable against Japan, and whilst they were lucky to beat Denmark, they certainly outplayed them.

They became the first team to qualify for the next round. This is despite being in group E, and therefore playing their second match later than most.

The European giants need to pick up their game if there is to be a repeat of the all European final of four years ago.

Indeed, since 1954, there hasn't been a single World Cup final without a European team involved.

Will that change this year, or will the giants pick their game up?

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