Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Tim Vickery in South America

A Rio newspaper on Sunday asserted that the European Championship is a World Cup without Brazil and Argentina. It is an expression used on both sides of the Atlantic - but that does not make it fair.

European teams have disputed the last two World Cup finals but the continent also provides some of the dullest teams in the tournament. The phrase is unfair on Africa and Asia, where South Korea have made a consistent contribution to recent World Cups. If they needed home advantage to reach the semi-finals in 2002, then so did England in 1966 and France in 1998 to register their only wins.

The phrase is also deeply unfair on the rest of South America, a continent which gave ample proof of its current strength two years ago in South Africa. Chile came up with their best-ever performance away from home by making the second round. Paraguay reached the last eight for the first time - and gave champions Spain their most even game on the way to the title. And Uruguay got to the semi- finals.

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