South American teams doing great.
Hey now! Brazil, Paraguay, Chile, Argentina and Uruguay are doing very well in their respective groups. The are all expected to qualify to the final 16. In fact, they are doing better than any other continent. Europe's top flight teams are disappointing, as are the host African nations.
Conmebol teams just beat a record of 7 collective victories in the group stages. And they still have more games left ahead of them. Chile has their second game and they all face their last group stage games.
- Brazil and Argentina are always expected to advance, the difference being Argentina occasionally doesn't (ex. Japan/Korea 2002, Spain 1982). Brazil qualified first in the Conmebol. And has already assured itself a spot in the knock-out stages with wins against North Korea (2-1) and Ivory Coast (3-1). They have one of the most anticipated games left, against Portugal, but having already qualified for the next stages, I doubt this game will be as important.
- Paraguay is known in South America as a strong, defensive team. They're a compact team that knows how to put it on lockdown and take advantage of set pieces and corners. They have a formidable air game and long range strikers. In the last few years they've become one of the best teams in the region. Their head coach is Gerardo "Tata" Martino, Argetinean. They tied Italy, beat Slovakia, and have tough kiwis New Zealand left. A tie will take them to the next stages.
- Uruguay was the last team to qualify, having to play Costa Rica in the "new" Conmebol/Concacaf "5th spot" qualifier. But they have been doing well, tying against France (no, I won't take this opportunity to comment or make fun of them) and beating the host. They are almost guaranteed a spot in the second round. They've stated that they wouldn't like to face Argentina in the next round to avoid canceling each other out.
- Chile experienced a total turn-aroud with the arrival of Argentinean coach Marcelo Bielsa. He re-built the team from scratch and slowly but surely they qualified in second place. Since the World Cup started, they were able to beat weaker side Honduras, and have just recovered their best striker, Humberto Suazo. They managed a huge triumph over Switzerland 1-0, breaking over 559 minutes of the Swiss shut-outs in World Cups. Their style of play is teamwork, teamwork, teamwork. Bielsa has a very defined style which stresses pace and passing and they train in real in-game situations, rather than mechanized moves and plays.
- Argentina is doing a lot of things right and a lot of things are getting worked out as we go along. The team showed some of its weak spots when it came to defending against Nigeria and defender Martin Demichelis had a momentary lapse against South Korea which gave them their only goal. Still, Gonzalo Higuain and Messi are proving to be a great combination, and only need a tie against Greece this coming Tuesday. Having won both matches, they are doing a lot better now than during the qualifying stages. Maradona hasn't received the respect he deserves from other coaches and experts and was expected to fail, but is quickly demonstrating he came to war with the right people.
(fun little fact my inner Argentinean couldn't help but mention: three out of five of these teams have Argentinean coaches) ;)