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World Cup Editorial: South Americans Losing Their Mystique
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Ronaldinho has not been the only South American player to underperform in this tournament (Reuters)
06/17/2002. Just one South American side left in the World Cup, and it was so nearly none at all.

Brazil were given the fright of their lives against a well-organised but not overly talented Belgium side and they had to wait until the 66th minute to take the lead when Rivaldo's deflected effort flew past goalkeeper Geert De Vlieger.

For two thirds of the match Belgium were wise to any tricks that Luiz Felipe Scolari's men had to offer. Could it be that Brazil and the other South American nations are losing that element of surprise?

Quite possibly, and this is down in no small measure to the Champions League.

Argentina coach Marcelo Bielsa has been criticised this week for not picking enough players from the domestic league.

"We will have to work out better how many players who are based in Europe will be in the next national team," said Argentine football association president Julio Humberto Grondona amidst suggestions that he may demand Bielsa quits his post. "We may have to have a local national team because if we keep on playing with all the ones that are in Europe, we are going to lose our football identity."

Indeed, of all the Argentine teams that began the three group games against Nigeria, England and Sweden, only two plied their trade out of Europe. Never mind that Juan Pablo Sorin and especially Ariel Ortega both had disappointing tournaments, there is certainly a school of thought that suggests the Argentine players' frequent exposure to European football is costing the national side dear.

Facing the likes of Juan Sebastian Veron, and the others no longer holds any fears for the simple reason that European players are facing them week in week out. There was a time not so long ago that the only occasions the percentage of South American players came into contact with their European counterparts was in friendly matches and at World Cups.

Against England Bielsa's men were outfought and outthought in midfield and what resulted was a display lacking any imagination whatsoever. How the game was crying out for a Juan Roman Riquelme or a D'Alessandro ?still unknown qualities inside the confines of Europe.

And what of the other South American sides? Well Ecuador were the only side that Italy managed to beat in the group stage and Paraguay made heavy whether of a comfortable looking group before turning in one of the most negative performances of the tournament in going out to Germany. Uruguay, though, are probably a more interesting case.

Again, many of their players ply their trade in the big European leagues and barring Alvaro Recoba, they simply had nothing to surprise the defences of a well-drilled Denmark side and a France team with ten men. Dario Rodriguez surprised everyone with his goal of the tournament contender against Denmark but where does he play? Back home with Penarol.

Only against Senegal did they produce a performance of real imagination and that was only after being wound up by El Hadji Diouf and his cocky tricks.

And back to Brazil. Scolari, one feels, has done his best to keep a traditional flavour to his squad by selecting the likes of Edilson and Luizao when Giovane Elber and Marcio Amoroso would have been the more obvious choices. Who knows, it may just be either of these two that provide that moment of genius in the World Cup final should they be called upon to replace the still not 100% Ronaldo. God forbid arguably the world's best striker should pick up yet another injury.

Is it any coincidence that easily Brazil's most effective player has been the effervescent Juninho? He's turned back the years with some truly stunning displays and was certainly his side's brightest player against Belgium. Where does he play? Vasco da Gama of Brazil where his skills aren't there for the world to see.

Established European leaguers Rivaldo and Ronaldinho have cut predictable figures at times and the only surprise was that they weren't substituted earlier against the Belgians. The unfortunate Juninho, meanwhile, went off in the 57th minute to be replaced by Real Betis' Denilson who flattered only to deceive.

The financial state of the game in Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay forces the clubs to sell their best players, but while they are doing so they may just be hindering their national side's chances of success. European teams know exactly what to expect these days.

soccerage :cool:

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Carson35 said:

The financial state of the game in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Venezuela and Uruguay forces the clubs to sell their best players, but while they are doing so they may just be hindering their national side's chances of success. European teams know exactly what to expect these days.

soccerage :cool:
BINGO !!! Need I say More ?????? :lala:

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add to the fact that when the euro based players come back to play for their country they play like crap
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