European teams looking shaky two months before 2022 World Cup

Things are not going smoothly in the run-up to Qatar

Posted Monday, September 26, 2022 by

The 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan was the last to be won by a non-European team.

It went to Brazil, which featured Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho, but since then, it's been all Europe: Italy (2006), Spain (2010), Germany (2014) and France (2018).

Now, 20 years later, it seems the Old Continent may finally lose their grip on football's greatest trophy.

If there is one thing Brazil and Argentina have made clear, it's that they enter the month of November looking extremely strong.

With the Brazil-Argentina qualifier officially cancelled, the two countries head into Qatar 2022 undefeated, apart from the last friendly.

European teams looking shaky two months before 2022 World Cup

Meanwhile, in Europe, doubts are everywhere. Spain fell to Switzerland, France will look to make amends after a disappointing Nations League in which they can still be relegated to League B, Germany and England have no chance of reaching the Final Four and Italy, of course, will not even be in Qatar.

France are the European favourites, but...

Didier Deschamps has his doubts. The power of the French team is unquestionable as few can match their attack: Mbappe, Benzema, Dembele, Griezmann, Nkunku, Giroud, Ben Yedder.

Not to mention a strong defence and some Real Madrid starlets in midfield: Tchouameni and Camavinga are the heirs to Kante and the injured Pogba.

But something is not right within the French side. The 2018 World Cup was a difficult one despite coming out on top, and the post-Russia 2018 hasn't been great.

As for the Nations League, France managed to beat Austria, but now they have to visit Denmark to definitively avoid what would be an embarrassing relegation.

Mbappe, who claims to feel more 'free' than at PSG, isn't enough, for now, to restore France's lost aura of invincibility.

Spain at Portugal's mercy

Portugal (along with the Netherlands) is the only top European team that is living up to expectations.

Fernando Santos' side (win or draw) can reach the Final Four, and Saturday's 4-0 win in Prague showed how clinical Cristiano Ronaldo's team can be.

Spain are right behind them (still in contention for the Final Four), but they showed their weaknesses at La Romareda against Switzerland, a defeat that cost them top spot.

"We have to improve, but we have the time we have," said Luis Enrique after the defeat.

England, Germany and Italy in chaos

Everyone is chasing Hungary, who are coached by Italy's Marco Rossi.

Group A3 is following an unexpected script as it's led by two teams that will not be going to the 2022 World Cup: the Magyars and Italy.

The Azzurri, who beat England last Friday, have enough drama on their hands after missing out on their second straight World Cup finals.

That is why thel focus is on Germany and England. Flick's team (Spain's opponents in Qatar 2022) have struggled to get off the ground.

A 5-2 win over Italy lifted their spirits after four consecutive draws, but a defeat in Leipzig against the surprising Hungary of Adam Szalai and company ended their hopes of a spot in the Final Four.

Then there is England. Southgate's side have been living a nightmare since the Euro 2020 final loss to Italy at Wembley. The Nations League has been a disaster: two draws, three defeats and zero victories.

Problems in defence (where Maguire is still in the starting line-up to the surprise of many) and nobody to play alongside Harry Kane are some of the reasons they have been relegated to League B.

Belgium immersed in change

Belgium have been chasing their Dutch neighbours since the 4-1 defeat that opened the Nations League in Brussels.

The Oranje have proven to be a more accomplished team with ambition heading into the World Cup.

The golden generation of Belgian football is coming to an end and key players such as Lukaku and Eden Hazard are not at their best at club level, either through injury or due to a lack of playing time.

Right now, Kevin De Bruyne and Thibaut Courtois have it all to do for the team coached by Roberto Martinez.

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