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For decades and generations after generations, the addition of South American teams to the World Cup mix has blown the landscape wide open with seven World Cups heading back to either Brazil or Argentina in the last 100 years.
It may not seem like a lot over that time, but given how most of the tournaments have been held in Europe and how most of the top leagues are also in Europe, Brazil and Argentina can class themselves as heavyweights every single time the World Cup comes around no matter what.
— Selección Argentina 🇦🇷 (@Argentina) September 7, 2021
However, since Brazil’s disaster at the 2014 World Cup in which they hosted, it’s been a torrid time for them, as they lost a very telling game to Belgium in the quarter-finals of the 2018 edition.
Argentina, who managed to get all the way to extra-time in the final of the 2014 World Cup, also fell incredibly short in 2018 as they lost to eventual winners France in the round of 16.
Furthermore, it’s fair to say that as he will be 35 next November, it could well be Lionel Messi’s last dance at the World Cup and after winning the Copa America, they may well be favoured over Brazil to go all the way. At the same time, Neymar will be 30 heading into Qatar 2022 and, if injury-free, full of goals still.
But, in terms of how either side will do at the 2022 World Cup, it’s fair to say that momentum has significantly swung back in the favour of Europe following a fantastic Euro 2020 which ran parallel with the Copa America.
Whilst Brazil and Argentina were expected to make it to the final of the Copa America, England and Italy were not quite expected to make it to the final of Euro 2020, and their respective triumphs there showed the talent pool in Europe is incredibly wide.
At the same time, the likes of Germany and Spain have new blood coming in just as France look to defend their title. This isn’t to completely rule out any South American nation, but the competition from Europe just seems a little too mighty.
Vem ver como foi o treino da #SeleçãoBrasileira ontem, na Neo Química Arena, após a suspensão do clássico. pic.twitter.com/tuUUylrvIb
— CBF Futebol (@CBF_Futebol) September 6, 2021
Messi, however, proved his exceptional talent begs belief at times when he managed to finish the Copa America triumph with the most goals and the most assists in the tournament, proving he and Argentina can never be ruled out.
It does seem the momentum is in Europe, however, and with a few European nations making statements at Euro 2020, the South American sides don’t quite look up to the billing this time around, which could stretch a wait for Brazil to 20 years without the World Cup and Argentina to 36.