Friday, December 4, 2009

World Cup Draw

I will be writing a lot more on the World Cup over time, but here are my initial thoughts on the draw.


United States - It was close to a dream draw for the yanks. They missed out on South Africa, but England is one of the easier seeded teams to draw. The other two teams are the worst teams in their pots. There weren't many possible draws that have the US as second-best in the group, but they got one. Qualifying still won't be easy, but it's a lot more likely now than it was yesterday.

England - Similar story to the above. Depending on your point of view, the USA was the best or second best behind Mexico in pot 2 so that was unlucky, but again the other two teams were the best draws. England should go through top.

France - Whether it was due to the handball incident or something else, France weren't seeded because FIFA changed the way they did the seeding. With the draw they effectively became the seeded team in the group. Drawing South Africa not only meant the weakest seeded team, but it also meant not having to play one of the big African teams. To make things even better, should France advance they will play one of Argentina, Nigeria, South Korea and Greece. Those teams aren't bad, but as I'll point out later, it could have been a lot worse. The only thing not perfect is that they drew one of the two big countries from pot 2 with Mexico.

Italy - The defending champs had by far the best draw. With New Zealand and Slovakia they got countries that were certainly in the bottom two in their pot. Paraguay are tougher to rate, but I think most everyone would put them in the bottom half of their pot and some second worst. Their draw for the round of 16 is favorable as well as they are very likely to get the best of Denmark, Japan and Cameroon.


Spain - Others are likely to say that Spain had a good to great draw. I think they were one of most unlucky countries. The reason for that is that from most any group they would be significant favorites to advance, even to advance first. The group draw isn't very relevant for the kings of Europe. The knockout draw will lead to what should be the best round of 16 match ever for the neutrals but it is absolutely brutal. Spain will play one of Brazil, Côte d'Ivoire and Portugal in the round of 16. That is astounding. The two runaway favorites in the tournament, at least before the draw, were Brazil and Spain. Portugal and especially the Côte d'Ivoire are both considered to be in the second tier of teams that definitely have a shot. There is more than a 99% chance that Spain will play one of those teams. Looking forward to the round of 8 is tougher, but if they can get out of that their reward is likely to be Italy, who matchup well with them. En route to winning Euro 2008, Spain had to best Italy on penalties after a neither team scored a goal in 120 minutes.

Brazil, Côte d'Ivoire, Portugal - Not a lot to say here. Absolutely brutal for these countries. Not only is one of the best teams in the competition going to be eliminated in the group stage, but one of the advancing teams, probably the one finishing second, has to face Spain in the first knockout round.

Mixed Bag:

The Netherlands - It's tough to argue that the Dutch group draw was great. Denmark and Japan are both pretty good teams that can give teams problems. Cameroon are a very talented side with the much discussed advantage of playing on their home continent. That's a tougher than average group. Having said that, the Dutch should finish top of the group as they are pretty easily the best side. Their reward in the round of 16 if they do that is most likely Paraguay or Slovakia, so that part is great. On the other hand, their round of 8 match is most likely whoever wins the group with Brazil, Côte d'Ivoire and Portugal, with Brazil most likely. There aren't usually a lot of easy wins in the last 8 but it could obviously be a lot better than that. So some good and bad news.

Germany - I thought of putting Germany in the winners category, but decided to put them here instead. Australia, Serbia and Ghana is a tough draw as all three were among the best teams in their pot. Germany still should get out of that in first. If they do, they will likely play the United States, Slovenia or Algeria. Any of those would be below average for the round of 16. Looking further ahead, their round of 8 match is against the best of Argentina, Nigeria, South Korea and Greece or the second best of France, Mexico, Uruguay and South Africa. So barring a big upset, if they can advance first from the group stage Germany will have one of the easier round of 16 opponents and the easiest in the quarterfinal. Even if you take into account their pretty tough group, for me the group of death because all four teams are good, no other team has as clear a path to the semifinal.

No comments:

Post a Comment