Russia 2018: the worst start in South America in more than 40 years in a World Cup

Russia 2018: the worst start in South America in more than 40 years in a World Cup


While Argentina and Brazil could not pass the draw, Colombia and Peru fell in their matches.

It seemed that the South American teams came with strength to the 2018 World Cup in Russia, determined to be protagonists as it happened four years ago in Brazil.

The previous results during the preparation process foreshadowed the best for the World Cup debut. The classification published by FIFA on a monthly basis also inspired confidence.

All -Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Peru and Uruguay- are among the 20 best in the world and their rivals for the first round of matches of the group stage were below in the ranking of the governing body of football.

But the reality was the most disappointing, to the point that for 44 years that four South American teams failed to win their first game in a World Cup.

José María Giménez shouts his goal.
Copyright of the GETTY IMAGES image
Image caption Uruguay was the first South American team to play in Russia 2018 and the only one that could get the victory.


The only triumph in Russia so far was the agonizing achievement by Uruguay against Egypt, thanks to a goal in the 88th minute of José María Giménez.

The rest has been a sum of setbacks, which in some cases makes you fear for your future in the World Cup.

Germany 1974

Only in the 1974 World Cup Germany the outlook was worse than in Russia, since none of the teams could get the victory .

Brazil, as the champion of the moment, drew the opening match against Yugoslavia without goals.

The next day Chile lost against the host country by the goal of Paul Breitner, while Uruguay and Argentina were surprised by the selections that ended up being the big revelations of the tournament: Holland and Poland.

Paul Breitner scores in the 18th minute against Chile.
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Image caption Chile lost against the hosts in their first game in 1974 against Germany.


These results, however, did not cause so many surprises because what they did was confirm at that time a trend that had been marked since the first World Cup in 1930.

The South American teams tend to perform better when the World Cup is played on that side of the Atlantic and suffer more when the tournament is played in European territory.

At home

It is true that the only two times that South America finished unbeaten after the debut of all its representatives since the World Cup in Germany was in Argentina in 1978 and Mexico in 1986.

Also four years ago in Brazil up to four of its representatives added a triumph.But you can not justify what is happening in Russia in the simple fact that is in Europe beyond the numbers that show the statistics.

Although in Spain in 1982 only Brazil was able to win in its first game, things have changed with the passage of time .

In Italy 90 the only one that fell defeated was Argentina in the opening match, while in France in 1998 it was only Colombia that lost in its debut.

Neither did the South American teams in Germany 2006, where they scored three victories and one defeat (Paraguay).


It is evident that the results were not the expected ones before the expectations generated in advance.

Maybe it is that added pressure to achieve “a good world” that is perceived in each of the countries in South America that has influenced their performance.

Diego Armando Maradona in 1986 against South Korea.Copyright of theGETTY IMAGESimage
Image captionThe last time the South American teams finished unbeaten in the first round of matches was in 1986.


By history Brazil and Argentina have the obligation to fight for the title, while in Uruguay and Colombia many are convinced that they have the capacity to go far, maybe even to the semifinals.

Even in Peru, which plays its first World Cup in 36 years, they have the confidence, or had, to overcome the first phase.

The problem is that after the adverse results that pressure feels even greater and both the white red and the coffee selection are now forced to get the three points against which in theory are the strongest rivals of their respective groups: France and Poland.

The case of the Albiceleste and Canarinha is different, since despite the draws against Iceland and Switzerland, both are still favorites to reach the last 16.

It may be that the bad start in Russia is only circumstantial and that the road is straightened in the remainder of the first phase, but there is no margin for error if one aspires to repeat what happened four years ago in Brazil, where five of the Six representatives passed the group stage.

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