World Football: 10 Important Observations from International Play

James WillisAnalyst IMarch 31, 2011

World Football: 10 Important Observations from International Play

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    LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 27:  Neymar of Brazil celebrates scoring the opening goal during the International friendly match between Brazil and Scotland at Emirates Stadium on March 27, 2011 in London, England.  (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
    Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

    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

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    PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA - JULY 04:  Miroslav Klose of Germany speaks to the media in the media center at the Velmore Grand Hotel on July 4, 2010 in Pretoria, South Africa.  (Photo by Joern Pollex/Getty Images)
    Joern Pollex/Getty Images

    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

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    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - MARCH 26:  The United States lines up to defend a free kick by Lionel Messi #10 of Argentina during the second half of a friendly match at New Meadowlands Stadium on March 26, 2011 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Jeff Zele
    Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

    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

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    SHANGHAI, CHINA - AUGUST 13:  Shin Kwang Hoon of South Korea passes the ball during the Men's Group D match between South Korea and Honduras at Shanghai Stadium on Day 5 of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games on August 13, 2008 in Shanghai, China.  (Photo by N
    Noriko Hayakusa/Getty Images

    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

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    LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 27:  Neymar of Brazil looks on during the International friendly match between Brazil and Scotland at Emirates Stadium on March 27, 2011 in London, England.  (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
    Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

    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

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    LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 12:  The Montenegro team line up during the UEFA EURO 2012 Group G Qualifying match between England and Montenegro at Wembley Stadium on October 12, 2010 in London, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
    Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

    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

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    ZAGREB, CROATIA - SEPTEMBER 07:  Croatia team line up during the EURO 2012 Qualifying Group F match between Croatia and Greece at the Stadion Maksimir on September 7, 2010 in Zagreb, Croatia.  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
    Michael Steele/Getty Images

    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

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    LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 27: Neymar of Brazil looks on during the International friendly match between Brazil and Scotland at Emirates Stadium on March 27, 2011 in London, England.  (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
    Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

    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

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    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - MARCH 26:  Lionel Messi #10 of Argentina runs with Maurice Edu #7 of the United States during the first half of a friendly match  at New Meadowlands Stadium on March 26, 2011 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky
    Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

    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

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    PORT ELIZABETH, SOUTH AFRICA - JULY 10:  Thomas Mueller of Germany in action during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Third Place Play-off match between Uruguay and Germany at The Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on July 10, 2010 in Port Elizabeth, South Afr
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    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

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    CARDIFF, WALES - MARCH 26:  England manager Fabio Capello gestures during the UEFA EURO 2012 Group G qualifying match between Wales and England at the Millennium Stadium on March 26, 2011 in Cardiff, Wales.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
    Michael Regan/Getty Images

    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


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