What do World Cup team winners have in common?


Which combination of factors play a pivotal role in teams that succeed and teams that don't? Here's a look at World Cup teams through the years.

Working as part of a successful team here in Morgan McKinley, I thought about what comparisons I could draw between teams that succeed and teams that don’t and I decided upon a combination of key factors that play a pivotal role in success.

Here are some essential factors behind a successful team: 

Choosing talent wisely

One of the hardest jobs a manager faces before a big competition is who to pick from the talent pool available to them. When forming a team for a particular task, it is important to decide what strengths are important for the challenge. It is also important to decide how the strengths of one person can complement another.

Take England as an example. Remember when Ashley Cole, a seasoned England professional was omitted from the squad. Whilst Cole offered experience, England already had that in other areas and they opted for younger and more creative option in Leighton Baines.

Strong preparation

When the World Cup took place in Brazil, temperatures rose over 30 degrees. Knowing this would be the case, it’s no coincidence that many countries based their training camps in countries with similar conditions.

Teams must also select a base to minimise travel. Preparation must be specific to the task. Therefore, unforeseen problems must be anticipated before they happen. Teams that fail to prepare adequately for a task will inevitably fail.

Clearly defined tasks and objectives

Each squad for the World Cup consists of 23 players. This is in addition to a manager, coaches, a backroom team and medical experts etc. It is important always to have a plan. Who should do what and when should they do it?

From a player perspective, people remember Spain’s triumph in 2010 and how their attacking stars such as Iniesta, Xavi and Villa caught the eye. However, just as importantly, they had more clean sheets than any other team. Whilst some team members may be more visible than others, each member has a part to play and this should be clear from the start.

Excellent leadership

Teams can be prepared, experienced and empowered but will still need direction at times. Good leaders are those who can set the agenda, steer a team in the right direction and can be turned to if things go wrong. The most clear cut example of this would be Diego Maradona’s contribution to the 1986 World Cup. Scoring five goals and assisting five more, Maradona captained Argentina to their second World Cup title. As a result, his influence and inspirational leadership in this tournament has been heralded as the best performance by a single player in World Cup history. English fans may remember one of these goals in particular!

Determination to succeed

All of the above are pivotal to team success. However, without a hunger and desire amongst a team to complete a task, the result is failure.

France hosted the World Cup in 1998 and despite never having even reached the final before, expectation was huge. Aimé Jacquet chose the best team he could from the talent available to him. They prepared meticulously carrying the expectations of sixty million French on their shoulders. With a well organised squad of both experience and youth, and strong leadership from influential captain Didier Deschamp, The French team’s determination led them to winning their first ever World Cup. Their drive and commitment was unquestionable and as a result they won every match they played.