Weaknesses of Premier League Exposed at 2014 FIFA World Cup

The Premier League is lauded by its proponents as the best league in the world. While many do not believe the World Cup is the best competition this sport has to offer (the UEFA Champions League is arguably a higher quality), it is a high-level indicator as to a league’s strength. What we have seen from the World Cup is that the Premier League simply isn’t measuring up to the hype.

Some Premier League players such as Tim Howard, Wilfried Bony and Vincent Kompany had good World Cups. Others like Eden Hazard, Steven Gerrard, David Silva, Sergio Aguero, Mesut Özil and Wayne Rooney were largely disappointing. The failures of several great stars from the world’s highest profile and most-watched league has been very telling. On top of that, the Premier League’s top sides have been performing worse over the past few seasons in European competitions, and many have lamented the poor standard of defending in the league.

Every World Cup introduces new stars while unveiling the myth around others. But this World Cup seemed disproportionately disappointing for the Premier League. Even in the United States where Tim Howard became a household name almost overnight, Stoke City’s Geoff Cameron was arguably the worst player in the tournament for team USA.

Meanwhile, ESPN Analyst Craig Burley dissected the performance of Eden Hazard following Belgium’s elimination from the tournament on Sunday, saying the Chelsea winger “showed no interest in the tournament.” Hazard’s performances did indicate a certain disinterest although the long club season may have taken a toll on him.

Host nation Brazil boasts a number of Premier League based players, but none of them have stood out thus far except perhaps David Luiz, who has signed for Paris Saint-Germain. Paulinho, the Spurs midfielder, has been particularly poor, and his replacement in the last two matches, Fernandinho of Manchester City, has not been much better.

Premier League loanees Bryan Ruiz and Joel Campbell of Costa Rica have had greater impacts on this World Cup then any current English-based player save perhaps Robin Van Persie. This World Cup has also shown in many ways the difficulty of long club seasons in Europe’s top leagues and then transitioning to a hot summer tournament.

Spain, the reigning World and European champions, never got out of second gear in the tournament and went home early. Both clubs that contested the UEFA Champions League Final in Lisbon just 19 days before the World Cup kicked off were from Spain. England failed to record a single victory in three World Cup matches and two pre World Cup friendlies in Miami. Italy’s victory over England was the nation’s first since September, and then was followed by two loses and elimination from the tournament at the Group Stage.

Often times fans and even pundits confuse entertainment for quality. The Premier League has long proven to be the most entertaining league with end-to-end action and quality finishing. But defensively, the league has gotten worse through time and the technical ability of many of the players, particularly the English ones who have gotten poorer in time.

Ultimately what matters to fans is the entertainment level and enjoyment. The Premier League continues to be at the top of the list among leagues when these factors are considered. However, it is difficult following this World Cup and the failures of Premier League clubs in Europe to make a case that it is the top league on the planet.

18 thoughts on “Weaknesses of Premier League Exposed at 2014 FIFA World Cup”

  1. Farnandinho has been excellent man. His insertion into the lineup has been the turning point for Brasil.

  2. Really couldn’t disagree more. The talent in the prem is spread out much better than other leagues in Europe while makes it more competitive and entertaining in it’s own right.

    Picking a group of players who have been ok in the prem then saying they haven’t performed is misguided. Rooney has been poor all season, ozil started brightly and dropped off, Gerard fared ok but again is past his best, aguero has been injured since the group stages Hazard and silva I may agree with you. However other players such as oscar, rvp, Suarez despite his behaviour have all been excellent.

    I may also point you to http://www.goal.com/en/news/1717/editorial/2014/06/05/4861228/which-league-and-clubs-have-the-most-players-at-the-2014
    Which will highlight just how much talent the prem brought to the World Cup. Not only that, the fact that 5 teams contributed over 10 players each.

    The prem may not be perfect but I would rather it the way it is, a group of 5 or 6 teams who can each challenge for the title every year whilst competing in Europe opposed to a 2 maybe 3 horse race that other elite leagues in Europe have.

  3. Bar last season it has been as dull as La Liga or the Bundesleague are. They’re effectively just warm up matches for the Champions League. If generally steamroller your opponents with your waller to ensure you finish top 4 is exciting then it’s a sheltered existence most people lead.

    That said there were more Premier League players at the quarter final stage than from any other league.

  4. Remember the Premier League is the toughest of all the European leagues something Ozil, Cristano Ronaldo and Alonso have all said. Every game is a battle so when you have a World Cup at the end of the season Premier League players have less in the tank to perform at their best.

    Having said that more Premier League players have scored than any other league, more players from the Premier League were represented in the 32 teams than any other league and in final four, the Premier League is the most represented League. So this hardly showing the weakness of the Premier. Germany have 4 Premier League players, Brazil has 7 Premier League players, Holland have 5 players and Argentina have 3 players.

  5. I wouldn’t say a weakness in the Premier league rather a weakness in specific countries, especially England.

  6. LOL at Fernandinho not playing well. He’s bossed midfield when they finally put him in.

    How did Christiano Ronaldo do this World Cup? Oops. Must speak loads about La Liga that he couldn’t get Portugal out of the group.

  7. The article calls out 9 plays, three of which it lauds. As noted by another commentator, Suarez, until his Pac-Man got the best of him, was playing very well.

    Should we mention Krul who barely played in the Costa Rica matchup but was the difference maker?

    There are a whole bunch of EPL players in the World Cup and a through analysis will probably indicate that a bunch of them played very well. There is most likely no negative overall correlation between playing in the EPL and performing poorly in the World Cup.

    Regarding Cameron, he made a few mistakes, but also did make some really good plays as well.

    1. Agree on Cameron. He was poor against Portugal. Other than that he was fine. He was probably the US’ best player against Ghana. Check out the stats on clearances from Who Scored and you’ll see what I mean. Kartik loves Beckerman, which is why I guess he feels the need to take a pop at Cameron, a superior player.

  8. This is the kind of utter nonsense that WST loves to post. Take a point I believe (often that runs counter to “conventional wisdom” and reach (and there is some serious reaching going on here) for a couple of examples that ostensibly proves the author’s pre-held belief. Frankly, this post is stupid.

    The premier league is a season of 20 teams playing 38 games. Surely the year in, year out quality of product trumps a handful of games where admittedly good teams are thrown together in a foreign country after their domestic seasons and expected to perform at the highest level. This myopic punditry of soccer is lazy, and just plain wrong. But I guess like Ann Coulter, purposely stating nonsense does get a few clicks.

    1. John, it’s an opinion — just as you have one. It’s no secret that we’re big fans of the Premier League, but based on England’s disastrous form in the World Cup as well as the poor form of many of the other Premier League-footballers, it’s safe to say that the players from other leagues and continents have been far more successful in this tournament than the ones who play in England and Wales.

  9. Spot on! Agree with yu 100%. The pl super stars and specially the national team had disastrous &shocking wc same as 2010. And to add that the pl clubs under achieved in europe in the last couple of yrs where 2 out of four teams from england being eliminated in the group stage each of the last 3 seasons.

  10. I really don’t see how what goes on during a long league season correlates to the World Cup. Coaching, tactics, different teammates, etc. Too many variables for my liking.

    Before the last match everyone would have agreed Higuain was awful for Argentina. Then, bang, he has a great match and no one is considering him a World Cup flop.

    Also, Tim Cahill was one of the best performers in his three matches, and Yedlin was a revelation for the US. Does that mean MLS is a superior league? Nope.

  11. I’d whole-heartedly agree with you if teams like Costa Rica, USA, Greece, Colombia had all made the semis but Brazil Holland, Germany and Argentina all have their share of prem players.
    You are not wrong, but you are not entirely right either.

  12. It is because of the dominance of Latin American players playing in the EPL that make the league better. Not the other way around.

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