Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

European football isn’t dead as others might think

European football isn’t dead as others might think
by rick olivares pic by tom gatehouse/getty

There’s a saying about how the Southern Hemisphere where great European football teams go to die.

There were 13 UEFA squads that flew into Brazil and after the group stages, only six went through – Netherlands, Greece, France, Switzerland, Germany, and Belgium. Six out of 13 translates into 46% success rate.

If we look at the other countries from the different confederations, some fared better ratio wise with those going into the next stage while others didn’t do so well.

Case in point: none of the representatives from the Asian Football Confederation – Australia, Japan, Iran, and South Korea -- advanced to the knockout stages.

The CAF or Confederation of African Football, sent five squads to Brazil but only Algeria and Nigeria got out of their groups.

CONCACAF or Confederation of North, Central American, and Caribbean Association Football was represented by four countries. Costa Rica, Mexico, and the United States advanced leaving Honduras the only one not to progress to the next stage.

The South American Football Confederation or CONMEBOL in its Spanish name, saw five of their six representatives advance – host Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, and Uruguay. That was by far the best showing.

Now back to the European sides.

In Group A and F, the lone Euro bets, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, never made it out.

Group B saw the Netherlands top the group while Spain flamed out and finished third.

Greece was the lone European country in Group C and they advanced (though they got knocked out in the Round of 16).

In Group D, the letter “D” stood for disaster as Italy and England both crashed out.

France and Switzerland made it 2-0 for Euro sides as they topped Group E. 

The Group of Death, Group G saw Germany finish atop as expected while Portugal unexpectedly fail to progress.

In Group H, surprising Belgium at 3-0-0 went through while Russia finished with two draws and a loss to send them tumbling out.

While the humidity was one factor that hurt the Europeans play, it is not something they can wholly use as an excuse. They know what is in store for them when playing in Latin America. Their physiologists and trainers would have seen to their hydration and their fitness and conditioning.

Yet through it all, statistics-wise, three European countries are showing the way. And these three have all advanced to the quarterfinals (as Switzerland was eliminated by the Argentines, 1-nil) along with Belgium that withstood a furious endgame fight back by the United States.

Tops in scoring are the Dutch with 12 goals to their name. They found the back of the net through 11 open play goals with one coming off a set piece.

France has been adjudged thus far as the best attacking side. In 77 attempts, they scored eight goals, while seeing 17 shots blocked, 23 saved, and 29 off-target.

Germany and not Spain with its famous tiki taka system, are the best passing team. Joachim Low’s squad has completed 2,560 passes for an 84% completion rate.

Now to see if any of the four remaining European sides can win it all in Brazil.

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