The scene four years ago was Italy’s captain, Fabino Cannavaro, lifting the FIFA World Cup trophy as Italy defeated France in the finals. The Italian nation celebrated its fourth World Cup title. In the third place game, host country Germany defeated Portugal to finish third. Even England had a nice run in the 2006 World Cup, as they finished in the Round of 16 after finishing first in their group. Yes, everything was going great for France, Italy, Germany, and England in the 2006 World Cup.
However, that was then; this is now.
Germany and Italy have had okay World Cup performances so far, but not up to the high standards that their country would expect. Both of these countries have had losses in their group play to teams that they were heavily favored over. They now come into their last game of group play desperately needing wins to advance past group play.
For England, and France this World Cup has been a huge disappointment. These two teams came into the 2010 World Cup with expectations of finishing first in their groups. After group play is over with they face the possibility of finishing last.
England came into the 2010 FIFA World Cup with the expectation of being the group favorites. After finishing first in group play in 2006 against tougher competition; they seemed poised to repeat that finish with weaker competition in 2010.
Earlier, in the four years between World Cups, England’s captain, John Terry, was caught having an affair with one of his teammate’s wives. This got to the point where he was stripped of his role as captain just before the start of this World Cup. This started the downfall of England soccer that is continuing today.
Then, leading up to the World Cup, England fired their head coach, replacing him with current coach, Fabio Capello. Under Capello, the English finished first in their World Cup Qualifying group, and everything looked to be going in the right direction for the team. A first match against The United States seemed to be an easy win. An early goal against the United States put England up 1-0. Then, their World Cup took a turn for the worse, as a shot from USA’s Clint Dempsey bounced off of England’s goal keeper’s hands and rolled into the net.
Their next match against Angola, an easy rebound after the embarrassing tie, was no better. England failed to give up a goal, but also failed to score any goals, resulting in another tie. After the match, England’s former captain, John Terry, criticized his coach about which players should play, and the English media started to question who was really leading this team. With their last game against first place Slovenia, England needs to find a heart, and also the back of the net, and get on the same page if they want to advance.
France’s story is just one of embarrassment, dishonor, and sadness. The French finished second in their group at the 2006 World Cup. However, with the leadership of their captain and MVP of the 2006 World Cup, Zinedine Zidane, they played great and advanced to the finals. There they played an Italy team to a 1-1 draw that eventually went to penalty kicks. But, before the game could go into overtime, Zidane fired the first shot into France’s decline into despair.
With the game heading into extra time, Zidane turned to an Italian defenseman, lower his head and head-butted him right in the chest. This shocked the thousands not just at the stadium, but the millions across the world whom were watching. Why would this hero among his country do something so idiotic at such a critical time? This head-butt resulted in a red card for Zidane, ejecting him from the match and resulting in a World Cup loss in the finals for his country; as France went onto lose in penalty kicks.
After the loss, Zidane retired from competition. France then underpreformed in World Cup qualifiers, failing to secure a spot until their last match. The match ended under controversy with a goal by France’s Thierry Henry against Ireland that under replay was shown to be a hand ball. However, the officials on the field failed to call the hand ball and gave the goal and the World Cup spot to France.
Now, at the 2010 World Cup, France has been one big disaster, from the players revolting against Head Coach Raymond Domenech, to head trainers quitting on the team after screaming arguments with the team’s captain. There are even reports now that in France’s last match against South Africa, the team may not even show up. The players have said that they will show up under the honor of their country, but, after what has transpired so far at this World Cup, how much honor is left?
Yes, this has been quite the start to the 2010 FIFA World Cup. There are the teams that have played very solid this year much like in years past. Brazil, Portugal, Argentina, and even the United States have had solid play in their group stages. Let’s just hope that when the 2014 FIFA World Cup comes, these countries don’t take a turn for the worse, like France or England.By T.J. McAloon