I have just sat and watched the draw for next year’s World Cup, and trust me, I am not happy! I take a look at all eight groups at a first glance…
Group A – Brazil, Mexico, Croatia and Cameroon
A group with Brazil in it is never going to be easy, especially as the five times winners are the hosts. Phil Scolari’s side are almost dead certain to win the group, and are the bookies’ favourites to win the whole thing. Out of the other three teams, it is very close and any one of them could get second spot. My money would be Mexico, who have a young, exciting team and beat Brazil at the 2012 London Olympics. But that isn’t to say that Croatia and Cameroon can’t qualify. But bare in mind, the team who finish second will more than likely face Spain in the Round of 16.
Group B – Spain, Chile, Australia and Netherlands
We see a repeat of the 2010 World Cup final in the opening game of Group B, a game which could decide who tops the group. The loser will face a tough fight with Chile, who have only lost one game in this calendar year, for second spot. I would like to say that you can’t write off Australia, but you just can’t see them qualifying considering their opponents. A loss against Chile in their opening game and the little hope they do have is gone.
Group C – Colombia, Greece, Ivory Coast and Japan
Colombia may have been one of the ‘easier’ top seeds in the draw, but they will still be favourites to progress from the group. The draw has been kinder to Ivory Coast this time, after they were put in the ‘Group of Death’ at the last tournament. Japan, who have a very young but exciting squad, will also be keen to progress after only losing on penalties in the Round of 16 in South Africa, whilst Greece, like Australia, will be favourites to get nothing from their group, but could snatch a few points.
- Ivory Coast
Group D – Uruguay, Costa Rica, England and Italy
Well, what to say. This seems to be the hardest group we could of got. Our opening game is against Italy at 2am UK time, which will be at high temperatures, whilst we have never beaten Uruguay at a World Cup. Costa Rica is the easiest game, and our last fixture, which could work to our favour, if we haven’t been knocked out by then. This group has the most World Cup trophies with seven, so it may well be ‘The Group of Death’. A win against either Italy or Uruguay should see us through, but both will be tough games.
- Costa Rica
I’ll be doing a full preview of England’s group soon, looking at all our three opponents and our chances of qualifying.
Group E – Switzerland, Ecuador, France and Honduras
Everyone’s first thoughts after the draw was that this is the easiest group out of the eight, and I’m sure the French can’t believe their luck. Switzerland were the easiest of the top seeds, whilst Honduras and Ecuador are rank outsiders. It was the group that everyone wanted to be in, and it’s fair to say that these games could get the lowest attendances. It will be tough to call who will finish second though, so each team’s result against France will be crucial.
Group F – Argentina, Bosnia, Iran and Nigeria
Every World Cup held in South America has been won by a South American team, meaning Argentina are one of the favourites to win the tournament, let alone this group. Lionel Messi and co will face Bosnia & Herzegovina, the only World Cup debutants at next year’s tournament, Iran, who have never got the past the group stages on three attempts and Nigeria who they faced at the last World Cup and beat 1-0. The race for second seems to be between the African nation and Bosnia, with Iran another team tipped to get no points.
- Bosnia & Herzegovina
Group G – Germany, Ghana, Portugal and USA
Definitely a rival to Group D for the title of the Group of Death, Group G has thrown up a couple of corkers. Germany and Ghana, who faced off in 2010 will go head to head again, in a game which could see the Boateng brothers (Jerome and Kevin-Prince) on opposite sides once more. In another clash of loyalties, USA manager Jurgan Klinsmann, who has won the World Cup with Germany, faces his home country. Meanwhile, Portugal have been put in a Group of Death for the third major tournament in a row after being in it at the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012, where they played Germany.
Group H – Belgium, Algeria, Russia and South Korea
To conclude, I take a look at Group H in which three teams could realistically qualify: Belgium, Russia and South Korea. That isn’t to say that Algeria can’t do so, but the African nation haven’t scored a goal at the finals since 1986, against Northern Ireland in a 1-1 draw. That game and their 0-0 encounter with England in South Africa, are the only occasions in which they have picked up a point. Belgium, with their young, fresh squad are the favourites, whilst South Korea and Russia have similar styles and either could qualify alongside Eden Hazard and co.
- South Korea