The Greatest Teams in World Cup History

The World Cup has been held every four years since 1930, when the host Uruguay lifted the first trophy in a 13-team tournament.  The Cup has since included 32 teams in every tournament and is the highest achievement any player or team can achieve.  Here are three teams that emphatically reached the pinnacle of the international game.

Brazil 1970

(Pictured: Pele)

English newspaper The Independent called this team Spain 2010’s opponent for best team of all time.  While Spain still can prove even better in the current decade, Brazil’s 1970 World Cup squad gives them some tough opposition.

Brazil’s team featured the sport’s most popular icon Pele as well as Carlos Alberto, who assisted the former to the winning goal in the 1970 World Cup.  Another big name in Rivelino supplemented Pele, Alberto, and Jairzinho. Jairzinho scored in every one of Brazil’s games in 1970, the only player to ever score in every World Cup game for his respective team (The Independent).  This team may not have been so much a dynasty as Spain 2010 but dominated the 1970 World Cup in a fashion that even modern-day Spain has not yet replicated.

Spain 2010

Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta make up the midfield of this team that has dominated the 2000’s.  Having won the 2008 Euro final over Germany, the 2010 World Cup over Holland, and the 2012 Euros over Italy, Spain became the first team ever to win 3 consecutive major tournaments.

Spanish coach Vicente Del Bosque put together a sensational team in Euro 2012 that made a struggling striker in Fernando Torres the Golden Boot winner (leading scorer) at the competition.  Because of Spain’s slow, methodical, yet tiring and frustrating-to-defend style Del Bosque has made Spain one of the most hailed teams in all of international soccer history (The Independent).

1970’s Holland

 

 

(Pictured: Johann Cruyff)

Unlike the Spanish, Holland’s accomplishment cannot be measured in trophies, but their performances at World Cups in the 1970’s were just as excellent.

Soccer as we know it today would not be the same without Johann Cruyff and Rinus Michel’s total football (Left Wing).  The philosophy began with coach Rinus Michels and his Ajax team (Ajax Amsterdam is a very successful club from the Netherlands).  Cruyff, a legendary Dutch attacking midfielder, played on that team and made total football a success.  Michels would then coach the Holland national team in the 70’s (Left Wing).  Total football’s tactic consisted of shifting players into different positions and moving the other team into different spaces to get as many shots on goal as possible.  Total football is used by several elite clubs in the world today including Barcelona, Spain, and Bayern Munich.

After making it to the final in 1974 and 1978 Holland lost to West Germany and Argentina respectively, but their contribution to soccer as it is currently played is one of the most revolutionary approaches to the game in its history (Holland).

  1. Holland Tourism (2010) Dutch national team’s World Cup history. Tourism in Holland. Retrieved from: http://www.holland.com/us/tourism/article/dutch-national-teams-world-cup-history.htm
  2. Left Wing Soccer (2011, December 31) Bio: Rinus Michels. Left Wing Soccer. Retrieved from: http://leftwingsoccer.com/bio-rinus-michels/
  3. Sportsmail Reporter (2012, June 28) Euro 2012: Spain could be first team to win three consecutive major tournaments. The Daily Mail. Retrieved from: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/euro2012/article-2165905/Euro-2012-Spain-win-major-international-tournaments-running.html
  4. Pitt-Brooke, J. (2012, July 3) The greatest team of all time: Brazil 1970 vs. Spain 2010. The Independent. Retrieved from: http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/news-and-comment/the-greatest-team-of-all-time-brazil-1970-v-spain-2012-7905980.html

United States World Cup 2014 Preview

The World Cup is now less than 50 days away.  The first stage of the tournament will be a round robin group stage with 4 teams in each group playing 3 games to split 32 teams into 16.  3 points are awarded for a win, 1 for a draw, and 0 for a loss.  With teams being drawn into groups for the first stage in early December, there’s been plenty of time to pour over matchups during the group stage and make predictions for how prolific teams in difficult groups will fare.

The United States gets ready to improve on a rather successful 2010 World Cup that still could have gone much better.  The Americans were defeated in yet another international competition by Ghana, a long-time competitive rival.

An incredibly unlucky draw will pit the United States against Ghana yet again and pair them with two of the superpowers of world soccer, Portugal and Germany (FIFA Groups).  The Germans, coming off of a hugely successful 2010 World Cup in South Africa, will only be stronger with the emerging talents of Marco Reus, Mesut Ozil, and Andre Schurrle.  The Portuguese, with superstar and Ballon D’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo.

Compared to 2010’s last-gasp draws and surprise wins, the USA look much more legitimate as competitors going into this World Cup.  They dominated World Cup qualifying in their region and won the group stage (FIFA Qualifying), including a win against Mexico in Estadio Azteca for the first time ever (The Big Lead).  In a summer friendly the US national team defeated Germany 4-3 (Centennial Match).

Success for the Americans will depend on a strong defense.  Center back Matt Besler is a lock for a starting position at the back but his partner could be any one of Omar Gonzalez, Geoff Cameron, or Clarence Goodson.  Jermaine Jones is the likely choice to feature at defensive midfielder while Kyle Beckerman or the versatile Geoff Cameron could also challenge for the spot.   Michael Bradley provides the team its attacking prowess, and the target man Jozy Altidore will be carrying the goalscoring weight in the last World Cup of his career alongside Landon Donovan and Graham Zusi.

With a little bit of luck in the match between Portugal and Germany and redemption against Ghana, the Americans could find themselves in the Round of 16 for the second World Cup in a row.  4 points should get the USA through the group stage, a win against Ghana and a draw against Germany or Portugal.

 

Sources

1. CONCACAF (2013) World Cup Qualifying- Men’s. Confederation of North, Central American, and Caribbean Association Football.  Retrieved from: http://www.concacaf.com/category/world-cup-qualifying-men/schedule-results\

2. FIFA (2013) World Cup Groups. Federation Internationale Football Association. Retrieved from: http://www.fifa.com/worldcup/groups/index.html

3. Duffy, T. (2012, August 15) USA Beat Mexico 1-0 At Azteca, Their First Win on Mexican Soil. The Big Lead. Retrieved from: http://thebiglead.com/2012/08/15/usa-beat-mexico-1-0-at-azteca-their-first-win-on-mexican-soil/

4. US Soccer (2013, June 2) US Men’s National Team Defeats Germany 4-3 in Centennial Celebration Match in Nation’s Capital. US Soccer. Retrieved from: http://www.ussoccer.com/stories/2014/03/17/14/04/usa-defeats-germany-in-centennial-match

Brazil’s World Cup Controversy

Through glorious success at the national level and a recognizable style of play, Brazil has been synonymous with excellence in soccer.  A culture immersed in the game makes it an easy candidate for this summer’s World Cup, and a confirmed one for 2014 since 2007 (Brazil To-Do).

That notion, however, has not been reciprocated through the voices of a large amount of Brazilian citizens in recent months.  The nation has experienced widespread protest over the Brazilian government’s funding for the 2016 summer Olympics and the 2014 World Cup.  In addition to protest, controversy surrounds the progress of the Cup’s stadiums being finished on time (Brazil World Cup).

According to British newspaper The Guardian, 15,000 protesters were subdued with tear gas and rubber bullets by police in February.  The protest was done by a group of workers.  Motivations for these protests are grounded on the Brazilian government’s cancellation of school and hospital construction projects and relocation of Brazilian citizens for ground to build stadiums on.  According to America’s Quarterly, 1.5 million Brazilians will be relocated for land used for the World Cup.

Not only are these stadiums putting aside the well-being of a poverty-stricken Brazil, but organizers are having trouble getting them constructed in time.  Sky Sports reported in February that one of the twelve World Cup stadiums to be used in Brazil is very behind in its construction.

When the curtain rises and competition begins at another World Cup in Brazil, the game will certainly not be the most important thing in Brazil.  As deaths increase and protest struggles continue, soccer is not the most important thing to Brazilians now.

 

Sources:

1.

  1. Watts, J. (2014, February 15). Brazil’s World Cup courts disaster as delays, protests, and deaths mount. The Guardian. Retrieved from: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/16/brazil-world-cup-disaster-delays-protests-deaths
  2. Sky Sports (2014, February 18). Brazil World Cup: Curitiba Stadium ‘D-Day’. Sky Sports. Retrieved from: http://news.sky.com/story/1213297/brazil-world-cup-curitiba-stadium-d-day
  3. Zimbalist, A (2011) Brazil’s Long To-Do List. Americas Quarterly. Retrieved from: http://www.americasquarterly.org/zimbalist