iconimg Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Siladitya Ray, Hindustantimes.com
New Delhi, June 25, 2014
The beautiful game exhibited its sense of irony on Tuesday night, as the Greeks survived the ‘Euro crisis’ taking place in Brazil.
 
Three European giants, former World Champions Italy, Spain and England, have been knocked out of the World Cup in the first round and Portugal are hanging on by a thread.
 
These vaunted European teams had come in to the tournament with star-studded line-ups, handpicked from cash-rich football leagues. Their unexpected implosion in the first round of the tournament will pose some serious questions about the effectiveness of these leagues.
 
England looked the most hapless. Their old guard looked tired and their younger players looked out of depth.


 
Spain came into the tournament as defending champions and one of the favorites. Their tiki-taka style failed to deliver.


 
Four-time champions Italy were one of the sides to beat when they defeated England in their opening game, but subsequently went on to lose to Costa Rica and Uruguay. As a result, ciao time came early.


 
Portugal have also looked out of sorts and their talisman, Cristiano Ronaldo, is coming off an injury. He has had an indifferent tournament so far. The odds are stacked against Portugal even though they have a mathematical chance of qualifying.

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