World Football: 10 Important Observations from International Play
The latest round of international fixtures have now come and gone, and with them they have taught, or reaffirmed, a number of things to the public.
There were a number of matches played, including some very exciting friendlies, as well as qualification matches for Euro 2012 and the African Cup of Nations 2012.
A new look Brazil team visited London to play Scotland, while Argentina visited New Jersey to play the USA in another premier clash over the past week.
Here are 10 important observations from the latest round of international fixtures.
Miroslav Klose Is Writing Himself into the Record Books
Despite having played many more games, Miroslav Klose is gradually getting nearer to Gerd Muller's goal scoring record for Germany.
Muller scored 68 goals in an unbelievable 62 games, and although Klose will never match that goals per game record, he has a very good chance of taking the overall scoring record.
In the latest round of fixtures he scored two goals in Germany's 4-0 win over Kazakhstan, putting his tally up to 61 goals, 14 of which came in the World Cup.
The striker may not have been the most prolific at club level, and despite suffering from a poor season with Bayern Munich so far, internationally he's practically unstoppable.
All Teams Have Bad Football Fans
Despite the very positive side of football, there is sadly also a very bad side, and this latest round of international fixtures served as a reminder of that.
Before the USA v Argentina friendly match kicked off, there was due to be a minutes silence for the recent troubles in Japan. While many fans were no doubt respectful, there was a small minority who showed complete ignorance.
One fan could clearly be heard yelling "USA! USA!", before also shouting "Konichiwa B****es".
While the majority of fans showed respect, the act served as a timely reminder that hooliganism in football is something that needs to be wiped out: It happens all over the world.
USA aren't the only nation to suffer embarrassment at the hands of their fans, as a number of other nations have done so in the past.
Never Write off the Underdogs
Rather than having to state the obvious to explain this one, here are some of the results from the past round of international matches:
Costa Rica 0-0 Argentina
China PR 3-0 Honduras
Australia 2-1 Germany
Belarus 0-1 Canada
Qatar 1-1 Russia
Armenia 0-0 Russia
Georgia 1-0 Croatia
USA 1-1 Argentina
Estonia 2-0 Uruguay
Senegal 1-0 Cameroon
Malawi 1-0 Togo
As the title says: Never write off the underdogs
Neymar Won't Move to England
During Brazil's friendly match with, Neymar claimed a Banana had been thrown at him from someone in the stands as a racist taunt.
Arsenal later confirmed that a German teenager had been found as the culprit.
Racism never has a place in football, and while it would be foolish to let one incident cloud your opinion of football in England, the matter has likely put Neymar off a move to England even more.
The Brazilian sensation had previously said that he would prefer to move to Serie A over the Premier League and now seems to have more of a reason to do so.
With all the attention the story has been getting, there can be no doubt that Neymar's chances of moving to the Premier League are getting smaller and smaller.
There Could Be a Few Surprise Teams at Euro 2012
While we knew this before the latest round of international fixtures, the last few matches just went to back up this theory.
There were a number of surprise results as mentioned on slide three, for example Georgia topped Croatia 1-0 and Armenia drew with Russia.
As it stands, the majority of the larger teams will go through to the final tournament as expected, but other nations such as Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Armenia are putting themselves in good positions to cause an upset.
We'll only know next year though, just how the tournament will be lining up, although it could be one of the best we've seen in quite a while.
Croatia May Not Be as Good as Everyone Thinks
If your line up includes players like Eduardo, Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic, Darijo Srna, Vedran Corluka, Danijel Pranjic and Niko Kranjcar, then you could safely assume you have quite a strong team.
At least one that would be regular entrants at World Cups and European Championships.
However, since Euro 2008, Croatia have become surprisingly disappointing. The nation failed to qualify for the 2010 World Cup, not even making it through to the playoff's having lost out to England and Ukraine during the group stages.
They currently sit in just second position in their Euro 2012 qualification group, behind Greece, with Israel and Georgia surprisingly close behind.
While Croatia no doubt has the quality to be a top class side, they need to start proving it again.
The Copa America Is Going to Be Better Than Ever This Summer
This year, the Copa America will add Mexico and Japan as invitees to the tournament alongside the hosts, Argentina, and holders Brazil.
During last year's World Cup, we saw that Brazil and Argentina weren't the only South American teams to play with exciting flair and style.
Uruguay proved themselves the most successful of all the South American teams, while Chile and Paraguay also performed admirably.
If the latest round of international games has showed us anything, it's that since the World Cup, South American football has become even more exciting.
The Copa America this summer could well be one of the best tournaments we have seen in a long time.
Friendlies Mean More Than People Realize
Many pundits and fans alike will write off friendlies as pointless exercises, which simply tire players out. This last batch of international friendlies proved that there was still life in the fixtures.
England's game against Ghana at Wembley Stadium was one of the brightest and most exciting matches Wembley has seen for a long time.
Meanwhile there were also a number of upsets in friendly matches around the world including Australia 2-1 Germany.
While the results are meaningless, as they are in an uncompetitive environment, the squads often give a glimpse into the future of a country, and if there's anything that has been learned from the latest round of fixtures, it's that the future of football is in very talented.
The New Generation for the 2014 World Cup Is Exciting
Leading on from the last slide, the youth that has been put on show since last year's World Cup has been very exciting.
Most prominently, Thomas Muller finished as the Golden Boot winner during the 2010 World Cup, and since then a number of other strong youth players have appeared on the international scene.
Young talent such as Neymar was put on show for Brazil over the latest round of international fixtures, as well as England giving a second appearance to Andy Carroll, and debut's to Matt Jarvis and Danny Welbeck.
Tommy Oar has also made a number of appearances for Australia since the World Cup last year, and is another potential star for the future.
With such talent already coming through on show at international level, the generation of 2014 World Cup stars is looking bright.
International Matches Still Have Magic in Them
Say what you will about some of the international matches that fans have to put up with nowadays. A lot of the games are actually very exciting still.
Throughout this slideshow, there's been the mention of upsets, future stars being put on show as well as the build up to coming competitions, all of which when put together have proved that the international football scene still has magic in it.
While some fans believed the 2010 FIFA World cup did not match up to expectations, there is still a place for internationals and that has been proven more that ever in this latest round of fixtures.
In fact, it should leave most fans eagerly awaiting a number of upcoming tournaments:
2011 Gold Cup—5th June 2011
2011 Copa America—1st July 2011
2012 OFC Nations Cup—October 2011
2012 African Cup of Nations—21st January 2012
2012 European Football Championships—8th June 2012