World Cup Predictions: Teams Outside of Europe and South America
by Nicholas Tolomeo - 6/3/2010
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There have been 18 editions of the World Cup. The 19th begins June 11 in South Africa. Even though the World Cup is considered the world’s biggest sporting event, every champion has come from only two continents, Europe and South America.
No team from outside of Europe or South America has ever reached the World Cup Final. To take it another step further, only two teams from outside of the two soccer-rich continents have even reached the semifinals.
Amazingly, one was host South Korea in 2002 and the other was way back in 1930 when the United States reached the semifinals of the first ever World Cup. The domination of Europe and South America in the World Cup has been amazing and something generally overlooked. Logic says the trend will have to end eventually and a team from maybe Africa or Asia or North America will make a run at the World Cup Final.
When South Korea made its historic run to the semifinals, it occurred on its home soil in the first ever World Cup played on Asian soil. World Cup 2010 will be the first ever played in South Africa. Will there be another historic run by an outsider? Here are the countries that have the best chance of crashing the European/South American party otherwise known as the World Cup Final.
Playing in its host country and with a star striker like Didier Drogba, a lot of attention has been heaped on the Ivory Coast. Many call them overrated and an underdog to even get out of the group stage, but the fact remains they represent one of the best starting 11 of any African nation. The odds for the Ivory Coast to win the World Cup are 40/1 and that gives a good indication of just how steep the hill to climb is for countries outside of Europe and South America. Of course, the fact that Ivory Coast is playing in the World Cup Group of Death does not help much.
At 50/1 the United States has the second-best odds to win the World Cup for a country outside of Europe and South America. The United States has the best chance of a team from a non-traditional soccer continent to reach the World Cup quarterfinals. They are in a manageable group with England, Algeria and Slovenia and they have shown what they can do on the international stage in the Confederations Cup last year in South Africa.
The Black Stars turned heads in the 2006 World Cup, but that may work against them here as nobody will be taking them lightly. What works against Ghana the most here, even more so than the injury to Michael Essien, is what works against so many other teams from Africa, Asian, Oceania etc… They are paired in a group with two European teams who are simply more talented. Ghana would have to overcome both Germany and Serbia just to get into the Round of 16.
In 2002 South Korea took advantage of the home-field advantage and made an unprecedented run to the World Cup semifinals. As mentioned previously, no team from outside of Europe or South America has ever reached the World Cup Final. It may not happen this year either, but if any team from outside of the two soccer-rich continents has a chance to do it, it’s Nigeria. Nigeria has the talent, the same kind of home-country momentum South Korea had in 2002 and one of the best Group draws possible with Argentina, Greece and those same South Koreans.
When it comes to picking outright winners, the track record of European and South American countries is almost impossible to bet against. Still. there are African nations this year who have a chance to reach the quarterfinals but that appears to be the ceiling.
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