Everyone says that expectation of the England team in Brazil is low. Perhaps this is justified; not only based on their recent ranking, their performance in the first group match and the general odds on any particular team, England (as any other European nation) would have to overcome the history of seven previous World Cups in the Americas all won by South American teams.
Going back to the very first tournament in Uruguay in 1930 where the hosts won and American teams occupied the first three places, the trend has been for the S American giants to dominate these tournaments.
The next tournament on the continent in Brazil saw Uruguay and Brazil occupy the first two places and England suffer an ignominious 1-0 defeat to the USA.
Chile was the next destination and Brazil registered their second successive win having defeated hosts Sweden in 1958 (the only time a team from one of the major confederations -UEFA and Conmebol - have won on the other's soil). Chile also finished third, illustrating one of the other perennial world cup chestnuts - that host nations almost always overachieve in these competitions.
Uruguay and Italy won the inaugural events both on home turf. Admittedly Brazil's defeat in Rio in 1950 was something of a shock (especially for the Brazilians) but the trend continued with Sweden reaching the final in 1958, England winning in 1966, W Germany and Argentina doing likewise in 1974 and 1978 respectively. France repeated the formula in 1998.
Since then home nations haven't fared so well though it has to be borne in mind that Japan (2002), Germany (2006 with a young experimental side) and S Africa (2010) were not expected to win and both Japan and Germany exceeded expectations for the squads they fielded.
Going back to tournaments on American soil, the record so far is three wins for Brazil, two for Uruguay and two for Argentina. This would immediately seem to hand a big advantage to Brazil and, of course, it being in their home country will serve to emphasise this even more. Uruguay's two victories were in the first three tournaments so can, perhaps be discounted and the don't look real contenders, especially without Suarez. But both Brazil and Argentina can lay claim to having greats (or potential greats) in their ranks in Messi and Neymar.
Add in the climate, the pitches, the support and the culture in S American countries which is very unforgiving of failure, and it would seem to suggest that one of the two S American giants will prevail. There are also those conspiracy theorists who believe that home nations are handed even more unfair advantages; in 1966 England played all their matches at Wembley for instance and, of course, there was that controversial Geoff Hurst 'goal' ; then there was the infamous Argentina 6-0 result against a Peru side including an Argentinian keeper in 1978.
All England fans will be praying that, despite the setback of the first match where both tactical and selection flaws probably cost England a point, the team can go on and at least get out of the group. It was 1950, with that disastrous result against the USA in Belo Horizonte, since we last failed to qualify for the knockout (excluding a freak play-off round in 1958).
Let's hope history isn't repeating itself.
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