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South American teams have been impressive

sports Updated: Jun 24, 2010 01:03 IST
Hindustan Times
Ivory Coast

The striker is the player that makes the difference in a team. He is also the most accountable player in the squad; about whom fans can say: "Yes, he played well, but he didn't score." If his name is not on the scorecard, most of what he did, good or bad, doesn't count.

If we analyze the teams playing well so far in this World Cup, we see scorers making the difference. Brazil's Luis Fabiano scored two goals against Ivory Coast. Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo scored one and set up three more. Lionel Messi hit posts, goalkeepers and opponents but set up Gonzalo Higuain for two.

Diego Forlan has brought Uruguay along with his goals and incredible work rate. David Villa led Spain to its first victory and plans to repeat versus Chile.

On the other hand, failure to win often means the inability to supply your strikers with ammunition. France could not supply Nicholas Anelka or even play Thierry Henry and they go home. Italy seemed unable to find goals from its strikers Alberto Gilardino, Vincenzo Iaquinta or Antonio Di Natale. Germany Lukas Podolski missed everything including a penalty kick against Serbia. England hasn't earned a goal through Emile Heskey or Wayne Rooney.

Of the teams advancing to the second round, Argentina has so far played the best and most enjoyable football. Diego Maradona inspires, cajoles, kisses each player, holding a rosary in his hand. He even got Martin Palermo to score a goal at 38 years old.

Brazil has played an effective game that is enjoyable to watch. Holland has smothered its opponents with ease. Uruguay, Chile, and even Paraguay have shown both talent and offensive style. The European old timers of England, Italy, Germany and even Spain have to rev up their creaky engines as the South American teams have gotten an edge in this World Cup, gaining confidence and momentum in each game.

Their coaching, on field talent, and deadly accuracy of their strikers have proved to be the difference in the early stages of this World Cup.