How are Brazil and Argentina preparing to break Europe’s stranglehold on the World Cup in Qatar?

After being on par with their European rivals throughout the tournament’s history, South America have now gone two decades without a World Cup to their name. The “big two”, Brazil and Argentina, have been disappointing in recent editions of the tournament, even at home.

Now that the 2022 World Cup has kicked off in Qatar, it’s been over 20 years since two Ronaldo goals sealed a fifth World Cup for Brazil. The Seleção’s 2-0 victory over Germany extended a series of alternating victories for Europe and South America in the World Cup, which dates back to 1962, and even in the previous six tournaments, the two continents had three wins each.

However, since that glorious evening in Yokohama, the balance of power has changed a lot, since the next four winners (Italy, Spain, Germany, France) are all European. The next four winners (Italy, Spain, Germany, France) are all from Europe.

Historically, European teams have simply not won the tournament outside of Europe until Spain’s victory in South Africa in 2010. Four years later, with Brazil, any hope of returning to normal was brushed aside.

In the most remarkable game of football to ever take place on the biggest stage, the hosts suffered utter humiliation as they were annihilated 7-1 by a rampaging Germany in the semi-finals in Belo Horizonte. The Germans then beat Argentina 1-0 in Rio to claim the title. A game in which Gonzalo Higuain missed an incredible opportunity to give Argentina a crucial early advantage.

For the two South American greats, despite their successes at the Olympics and the Copa América in the meantime, it’s been far too long since they’ve had a World Cup to sink their teeth into. However, both teams are in a position to end this drought in the coming weeks and are determined to do so.

Brazil’s golden squad for the 2022 World Cup

Both teams qualified early in a CONMEBOL qualifying group made up of the best teams in South America, without losing any of their respective 17 matches. Brazil topped the group with ease, winning 14 of their 17 matches, scoring 40 goals and conceding just five.

Big wins over Uruguay (4-1), Chile, Paraguay (4-0 each) and Bolivia (5-0) demonstrated the imperious form Brazil are in under Tite, who managed to instill defensive discipline while trying to exploit the attacking flair so desired by observers in the country.

In the person of Alisson Becker, few would argue that Brazil currently have the best goalkeeper in the world (or at least the top three) and whether the defense still calls on the likes of Thiago Silva and Dani. Alves, these two players defy their age by continuing to demonstrate a level of excellence.

Fabinho, Bruno Guimaraes, a surprisingly efficient Fred and Casemiro are all available in a very talented midfield and, despite his apparent problems with Paris Saint-Germain, Neymar remains the spearhead of the Brazilian attack, as shown by his eight qualifying goals so far. Alongside him, Richarlison, Vinicius Jr, Raphinha, Rodrygo, Antony and Gabriel Martinelli are all attacking talents.

Argentina’s crazy series before the 2022 World Cup

Brazil are currently the bookmakers’ favorites to win their sixth trophy and end South America’s drought, but their neighboring neighbors also consider themselves ready to take a chance and win their first World Cup since 1986.

Already in September, coach Lionel Scaloni and the Argentine federation had named a preliminary team of 48 players for the tournament. They are clearly looking to harvest every available talent to maximize their chances in the Middle East later in the year and beyond.

Inter Milan youngster Valentin Carboni, who has dual Italian citizenship, has been called up, as have Real Madrid’s Nicolas Paz and Manchester United’s Alejandro Garnacho, in a bid to convince them not to play for Spain. None of them made the final squad, but the future is bright.

Even with an eye to the future, the current World Cup selection options still contain the experience of Angel Di Maria, Lautaro Martinez and Spurs defender Cristian Romero. And of course, it would take courage to dismiss a certain Lionel Messi, especially considering his recent return to form in Paris.

Manchester City summer signing Julian Alvarez is also keen to impress and will add firepower to the attacking line. After a 0-0 draw between the two teams in San Juan, Brazil and Argentina curiously never had to play the second leg of the qualifying campaign. The initial game in Sao Paulo was suspended amid grotesque scenes when health authorities tried to apprehend four Britain-based players who failed to adhere to strict coronavirus protocols.

As the encounter had no bearing on qualification other than bragging rights between the two teams, it was decided not to postpone it. Many are expecting the game to take place in Qatar. A semi-final meeting could be considered if the two teams finish top of their group as expected.

With both teams looking well equipped to break Europe’s World Cup dominance, the trophy could finally return to South America.

How are Brazil and Argentina preparing to break Europe’s stranglehold on the World Cup in Qatar?