This international break in September, the last meeting before the World Cup, did not offer the certainty expected by many European leaders. France, Belgium, Germany or England, many teams have struggled to calm down, between small numbers and dynamics at half-staff.
This September was the month of last chance. The last warm-up lap before the fight in Doha, the beginning of what the World Cup teams will offer in broad strokes. However, in Europe, few positive lessons will have been left from these autumn dates, for some uninspired and little reassuring teams in their career for the star.
Injuries and Motivation
Withdrawn from the sporting spectacle, this international meeting will be played above all under the sign of physical failures. The France team in the lead (15 injured players), the coaches actually had to deal with many absences. A significant and eminently striking reality about the final results, which nevertheless questions the reservoirs available to certain countries or the supposed gap between the level of the owners and that of their substitutes. For example, with the Blues, the performances of Eduardo Camavinga or Dayot Upamecano (to name a few) against Denmark will have made an impatient Didier Deschamps break out in a cold sweat. “He did several things that I don’t want to see again. He he knows” , said the Basque, referring to the Real Madrid midfielder. Despite the weight loss that appeared against Austria, the problem is not hidden because for the players called to play the role of credible pranksters in Qatar and for a group expected to return, after the slump glimpsed in June.
Ditto in Belgium, with different data. In its entirety, the Red Devils team is skating, after a draw against Wales (1-1) and a soporific defeat in the Netherlands (1-0). For Roberto Martínez, the question mark is, therefore, in this long-awaited but obviously unusable pool. In defence, the Spanish coach finally decided to summon Jason Denayer, without a club, and the very young Zeno Debast (18 years old, only sixteen games with Anderlecht), still too weak to express himself in these games. One difficulty among many others, the lack of attacking momentum of veterans Eden Hazard, Dries Mertens or Kevin De Bruyne, “Tired of always playing the same games” it only accentuates.
Europe in trouble
Physical difficulties or less well, these arguments therefore remain admissible two months before the deadline. However, if it is evidently not necessary to draw definitive conclusions in this particular time frame, other selections no longer seem to be moving forward. England and Germany have also given some clues, this Monday (3-3). the Three lions they are unrecognizable since the European Championship final: five defeats in their last five matches before challenging the Nationallf – and at the stylistic antipodes of the technical inspirations offered during the summer of 2021. Galvanized by the aura of a competition played almost exclusively at home (six games out of the seven played at Wembley), Gareth Southgate’s men will never have been able to reproduce their ephemeral feats, despite a plethoric workforce. Before Luke Shaw’s scoreline fell against Germany, the last English goal scored in the match dates back to March 29 and a win against the Ivory Coast (3-0).
On the other hand, Germany, in full swing since it went off the road in 2018, is also on a thread. Main knot: certain difficulties in consolidating a group in constant change (51 players used since the European Championship), mistreated and defeated by Hungary (0-1). Executives lacking both in defense, where only Manuel Neuer and Antonio Rüdiger act as scarecrows, and in attack, with this position of goal scorer deserted since the passage of Mario Gómez. Less affected, but just as irregular, Portugal, mired in the elections of Fernando Santos, Spain, stuck in an obsolete style, and the Netherlands, still recovering, are also struggling to regain serenity. Paradoxically, the fittest major European nation is Italy, which emerged alive from its “group of death” after seeing off England and Hungary, but exempt from a trip to Qatar.
Brazil and Argentina in ambush
This European draft could therefore open an even greater path for the South Americans, deprived of a world title for 20 years. First, Brazil, the clear favourite. “The doors of the national team will be increasingly narrow” , also imagined Tite, when announcing his list in June. A way to announce the closure of its list of 26, in rotation for almost a year. All this backed by validated titles in express and a series of quite affordable friendly matches, to fill them with confidence. Ultra-determined and driven by a visibly Neymar on a mission, the Auriverdes it can only take advantage of the slightest misstep of its rivals from the Old Continent.
Victorious lap, in which (finally) he was also able to step on the Argentina of Lionel Messi and Scaloni. Slightly set back, thealbiceleste paradoxically got rid of his excess talent, and in the collective spirit – the famous “step” – better armed than during the last decade. Not to deviate from the rule, this World Cup will surely be one of the bad surprises in Europe. It remains to be seen which country will bear the cost.
By Adel Bentaha
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