The 2010 World Cup was a triumph for the South American teams until the quarterfinals. All five countries managed to qualify for the knockout stage. While the world media was criticizing the failure of several great European nations, four South Americans marched to the top eight. And the one (Chile) falling out was beaten by Brazil. Now the old continent has turned the tide again.
Europe - South America 1 - 0
The awful performances of the English, French and Italians dominated the title pages. Until Thursday everybody was guessing whether the Brazilians or Argentinians had more of a chance to win the trophy. Two days later we are back to Earth and we have to admit that the in-form European teams literally crushed their South American rivals.
Before the Second Round of the knockout stage the South American heavies had not met a real contender, and they still had troubles with well-organized, but mediocre teams. Brazil beat North Korea and Ivory Coast in the group stage, but couldn’t deal with the Portuguese defense. After that they smashed the familiar Chilean side.
Everybody was praising Dunga’s team, which worked as a perfect German machine. And then came the Dutch. After ten minutes Brazil was leading, exploiting a baffling Dutch mistake. And no Brazilian side had lost after they were leading in half-time in the history of the World Cup. But the Dutch didn’t give up.
It’s apparent that there is more quality in the Brazilian team than in the Dutch side, and the Dutch had enormous luck in the second-half. But they managed to score twice, and keep cool. And the Brazilian machine exploded, and crashed out of the tournament.
Europe - South America 2 - 0
The Germany-Argentina match is a doddle. Now Germany has one of the most talented and skillful team in the world. And they are as organized as ever. Plus there is Joachim Loew a mastermind behind the success.
Prior to the German match Maradona’s Argentina met weak teams. They beat Nigeria, South Korea and Greece in the group stage. They even had luck against the unimpressive Mexican side, where they scored their first goal on a huge offside.
But their defense was never really tested. And Loew knew what to do against them. Sure, the Germans had luck scoring so early, but after that they could play their game and their counter-attacks were as lethal as the strikes against England.
No one knows what would have happened if a qualified coach had guided Argentina. Their attacking power is still the best available. But they lacked the quality in the defense, and had no real plans for the midfield.
Europe - South America 3 - 0
After beating Japan on penalties Paraguay presented a much more enjoyable face against Euro 2008 winners Spain. And the Europeans were suffering. But in the end Spain managed to beat their counterpart and qualify for the semis.
Eventually only Uruguay represents South America after beating (a non European side) Ghana. And they are not favorites against Holland. This scenario happens over and over again. Europeans find their form with difficulty, but in the end they manage to dominate the World Cup.
There are only two exceptions. When a South American country holds the World Cup, there will be no chance for the Europeans. And in every decade Argentina or Brazil produces a sparkling national team, which no one can resist. But before the 2014 World Cup Brazil have learned their lessons: you have to build on your own football traditions, especially if they worked fine before.