2014 World Cup: Early Favorites Come From Europe
The record of European teams playing in the World Cup hosted by a South American country cannot be ignored. No title has been won by a European team on South American soil. The early play of some of the 13 European nations have vaulted them into the spotlight. It remains to be seen if any of the teams can hoist the trophy, but their sterling performances are hard to ignore.
Germany was considered a favorite before their beating of Portugal. They will have another chance to show their power today against Ghana. Thomas Müller is gunning for the Golden Boot and Toni Kroos seems to be able to pull the string any time it is needed. Mats Hummels is hobbled a bit, but their substitutions would still be a favorite in the World Cup.
The Netherlands has aging players that either fought injuries or played among the most games over the last season. Yet they destroyed the defending champion Spain and easily qualified for the next round. Arjen Robben has been a bit selfish, but he has also converted a lot of his chances. Daley Blind is emerging as one of the best offensive-minded defenders in the competition.
France looked like they were in a video game against Switzerland. The game was decided early, but the goals were mostly things of beauty that kept you watching. Karim Benzema is converting at a high rate and also contributing with assists and an impressive work rate. They now have the best goal differential in the tournament.
Will these impressive performances be enough to overcome history? Even with these great group stage performances, the European nations will have to face those from South America. Including the host country Brazil, there are six possible entrants into the Round of 16 from South America. They still have an advantage over the teams from Europe, but it comes down to performance. Time will tell if one of these European countries can defy history.