Terry Pierce - European challenge on the ropes
Published: 21 Jun 2010 - 07:52:31
Yesterday saw the last two World Champions both complete their second fixtures in this year's competition, and their fortunes entirely summed up the tournament thus far.
While the Azzurri struggled to a point against brave New Zealand, the current Champions Brazil put in one of the best performances seen over the last 10 days, brushing aside the Ivory Coast - despite the best efforts of Chelsea's Didier Drogba.
And the difference in fortunes is indicative of the South African story.
The much-fancied European giants, led by Spain, have found life tough so far and many of the continental big-hitters could find themselves on the plane home come the end of this week.
Not much was expected from the French but the way in which they have imploded reeks of Gallic attitude and has pretty much put paid to their hopes of reaching the knock-out stages.
Fabio Capello's England have made life inconceivably difficult for themselves and his home nation Italy are in a similar situation while even the ever-efficient Germans and irresistible Spain have found it tough going.
So it's just Holland flying the flag for Europe's elite, but cast your eyes across the Atlantic and everything looks rosy.
Dunga's Brazil and rivals Argentina, led by Diego Maradonna, look the pick of the World Cup bunch so far.
Both are led by coaches who are familiar with the pressure their players are under and what's required to win the World Cup, but they are also vehemently passionate about the fortunes of their sides.
They'll back their players publicly and motivate them privately, and that seems to big the one big difference between them and their European counterparts Capello, Domenech and Lippi.
But it's not just the traditional South American super-powers who look good.
None of the South American sides have tasted defeat yet, with Paraguay and Uruguay almost certain of reaching the second round.
And Chile were also mightily impressive in their opening game, utilising their unique 3-3-1-3 formation to play some outstanding attacking football.
After a quiet first week, the tournament has now caught alight and most of the groups are still wide open.
So expect some big names to crash out by the end of the week, but put your money on them being European and start backing the South Americans to dominate the latter stages of the 2010 World Cup.
READ TERRY PIERCE EXCLUSIVELY AT FOOTBALL.CO.UK EVERY MONDAY
- FOOTBALL.CO.UK BLOGGER:terry pierce
- Terry was born and bred in Wiltshire, and is a massive Swindon fan - travelling the length of the country most weekends to watch the 'mighty' Reds. He also manages a successful(ish) Sunday league side, and his life pretty much revolves around football. Five-year-old Terry was in the crowd when Swindon won promotion to the Premier League in 1993 with a 4-3 play-off win against Leicester. He cried after every goal. Read Terry's thoughts every week on life outside the Premier League. Follow Terry on Twitter @telpierce.
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