South American Futbol - Libertadores, Sudamericana, World Cup 2010

Editorial: South American clubs have been excelling thus far

Argentina celebrate goal-fest -Photo: Terra

After a beautiful goal feast, Argentina

For South American sides, who have yet to lose in the group stage of the 2010 World Cup, it has been the finest conceivable start (5 wins and 2 draws from seven matches). Paraguay and Chile have also had a strong start in South Africa. Traditionally, only Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay have made a stand in the competition, winning 9 World Cup championships between them. Mexico, a fellow Latino nation, has also been dominating, while Honduras was defeated by stronger South American opponents.

Brazil won their opening World Cup match against North Korea, as was predicted. Although they were by far the superior squad, Brazil surrendered a late goal to the Koreans against dominating opponents who played with five men at the back — at times, 10 players defended in the Korea half. The Selecao weren’t at their best, and they’ll need to be better while playing Ivory Coast and Portugal, two much tougher opponents. Brazil ought to have faith in its ability to win a sixth World Cup.

There were doubts about Diego Maradona’s ability to guide Argentina, who had the potential to be the most talented side in the game, before the tournament. Despite Maradona’s lack of coaching expertise, his squad has defeated South Korea and Nigeria twice in a row and is all but guaranteed a spot in the round of 16.

The star of Argentina, Lionel Messi, has been at the peak of his game, unlike in the World Cup qualifiers, and his motivation has enabled Los Albicelestes to perform to their full potential. Argentina can advance far, but will they falter when they face stronger opponents? This happened in 2006 when they were eliminated by the then-hosts Germany following a penalty shootout. This Argentina team appears to be stronger on paper than the one that debuted four years ago, and if they keep working together, they may be unbeatable.

After a dismal World Cup qualifying campaign in which their deficiencies were exposed, Uruguay’s future remained uncertain, much like Argentina’s. Uruguay has a lot of potentials and has been playing beautifully up to this point; players like Diego Forlan and Luis Suarez have been outstanding. The Uruguayans defeated South Africa 3-0 for their first World Cup victory since 1990 after drawing with France in their opening game in a scoreless draw. Uruguay only needs a point to win their last group match against Mexico to take first place, but La Celeste’s track record against Mexico suggests that it won’t be easy.

There are high expectations for Paraguay in South Africa, not just because they have three world-class attackers but also because they are one of the strongest teams in the competition. Los Guaranies showed their tenacity in a 1-1 tie with world champions Italy, and they could have been able to pull off a historic triumph but for a careless mistake by goalkeeper Justo Villar.

Even though Honduras was a relatively poor opponent for Chile, Marcelo Bielsa’s team played enticing football and easily could have won the game by more goals. The Chileans will need to maintain their good form in their group, and their clash with Spain in the final group match may decide not only whether they reach the round of 16 stages for the first time in twelve years but also whether they avoid Brazil, who incidentally eliminated them from that stage of the tournament in 1998.

Mexico may have managed to tie with South Africa in the World Cup’s opening game, but their 2-0 victory over France demonstrated to the world that this Mexico team has what it takes to compete in the tournament. Mexico is a well-organized team with skilled midfielders and thrilling, quick strikers. Whether Javier Aguirre’s team is the real deal or not will be determined by their encounter against Uruguay. However, a tie would advance both clubs to the knockout round, so perhaps they won’t.





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