The legendary Spanish striker has spoken of his disappointment at the poor performances of the continent’s nations at this summer’s tournament in Brazil
Of the 13 European representatives to have qualified for the tournament in Brazil, seven have already been eliminated. Former World Cup winners England and Italy, as well as reigning-champions Spain fell at the first hurdle.
By contrast, eight of the ten teams from South, Central and North America to have qualified for the tournament made it through to the last 16. Of the South American qualifiers, only Ecuador failed to advance from the group stage, while half of the group winners, including CONCACAF’s Costa Rica, were non-UEFA sides.
“European nations have had a bad World Cup so far in terms of numbers.” wrote Raul in his column for the Times of India.
“Of the six teams that have qualified, Germany, the Netherlands and France have dominated their opponents, while Belgium snatched victory in the last 10-15 minutes in every game.
“Switzerland and Greece were fortunate seconds in their groups.”
The former Real Madrid hitman also acknowledged the ongoing rivalry between Europe and South America at football’s biggest tournament.
“The World Cup has always been a fight for supremacy between European and South American nations," he added.
“The balance is slightly in favour of the Europeans at the moment, as they have won 10 of the 19 editions, but they have to be at their best to retain that edge now despite dominating and winning the last two.
“In Germany 2006, all four semi-finalists [Italy, France, Germany and Portugal]... were from Europe. In 2010, the line-up was Spain, the Netherlands, Germany and Uruguay.
“Two superpowers of South America and world football had missed the cut and they are among the favourites this time.”