2010 World Cup draw
Group A: South Africa, Mexico, Uruguay, France
Group B: Argentina, South Korea, Nigeria, Greece
Group C: England, USA, Algeria, Slovenia
Group D: Germany, Australia, Ghana, Serbia
Group E: Netherlands, Japan, Cameroon, Denmark
Group F: Italy, New Zealand, Paraguay, Slovakia
Group G: Brazil, North Korea, Ivory Cost, Portugal
Group H: Spain, Honduras, Chile, Switzerland
First things first, I love the draw for the US. If I could have hand picked a team from pot 3 it would be Algeria and if I could hand pick a team from pot 4 it would have been Slovenia or Slovakia. Also US/England. Yes! I don't care about the 1950 game, c'mon, who does? But US/England is great. These players know each other. They speak the same language. They play together. Most Americans that watch soccer follow England and the English league. I am very excited, and even better, the media will love this matchup. The common soccer fan will be interested in this matchup. Hot shit.
Nothing really matched up with my mock draw, except the US got Slovenia and Algeria. I actually like my overall mock draw drawing better than the real one.
Ok, lets take a look at the groups. I'll rank them in order of strength from weakest to strongest.
8. Group F
Italy got the hook up here. Paraguay is a quality side, and is one of those teams that performs well, always making the World Cup and even the second round in 98 and 02, but doesn't really scare the big boys. New Zealand is not very good, and Slovakia is one of the worst European sides, and I believe the only World Cup newcomer. Top make it worse, none of these teams really play a exciting style of football. These may be some of the least interesting games in the tournament, but watching the underdog New Zealand will be fun.
Prediction: 1st Italy 2nd Paraguay
7. Group H - Spain has got to be happy here. They are surely already checking out their tough matchup in the 2nd round. Should be a more exciting group, with Honduras and Spain playing attacking football. Switzerland, not giving up a single goal in '06 should go through to the next round. Chile, I don't know much about them
Prediction: 1st Spain 2nd Switzerland
6. Group C - To the non-Anglo world, this could be the worst or second worse group, but I am American, so I like it. Don't really know much about Algeria or Slovenia. Both qualified through playoffs.
Prediction: 1st England 2nd USA
5. Group B - This group I think has the second worst top seed (South Africa the obvious worst) and does not have a clear team that should take second. It gains strength on paper from the Greek win in Euro 2004. I'm interested to see what kind of team Nigeria puts out there. I'm hoping for a fun, attacking squad. One thing is clear, there will be no easy wins in this group.
Prediction: 1st Argentina, Nigeria and South Korea battle it out for 2nd
4. Group A - Wouldn't have expected South Africa's group to be in the top half of quality, but the drawing of France makes it that way. Plus the host host country always gets a huge boost and Mexico, despite their qualifying trouble, is a perennial 2nd round team. Uruguay, with a Fifa ranking of 19 is over-rated.
Prediction - 1st Mexico 2nd France
3. Group E - This is the first group that I consider to be a strong group, one that I am happy the US is not in. Netherlands dominated in qualifying and have a very strong side. Denmark won a tough group in qualifying containing Portugal, Sweden, and Hungary, so they seem to be stronger than ever. Cameroon were The African team in 90s and always do well in the Olympics and U-21 tournaments, but haven't done much on the big stage in a while. Japan are a mid level team. Should be a high level of entertainment in these matches.
Prediction: 1st Netherlands 2nd Denmark edges Cameroon
2. Group D - This group is close to number 1 because there is no inferior team. I believe any of these teams can qualify in first or second. Germany is a great tournament team. Ghana is a team poised for a huge break out after making the 2nd round and outing playing Brazil in their first World Cup Appearance in 2006. Australia is similar, looking to build upon their 06 success. I feel their level of competition (qualifying in Asia instead of Oceania) will help them in this group. No easy games with Serbia winning their group with France in qualifying, but I do see Serbia taking 4th in this group.
Prediction: 1st Germany 2nd Australia edging out Ghana
1. Group G - I really don't see it as a horrible Group of Death as far as groups of death go. Look at 2002's England, Sweden, Argentina, and Nigeria. North Korea is a real outlier. I'm a afraid the people of North Korea may not even know that the World Cup is going on after the government said they would sensor the games, only showing them if North Korea does well. The other three sides are very strong, though. I was worried that the US would get Cote d'Ivoire when they were drawn next, but they went to the next open South American group leader. I expect lots of goals in this group and some beautiful football.
Prediction 1st Brazil 2nd Portugal - I just don't think Ivory Coast has enough depth.
There you go. We still got 6 months! to wait. Boo! So I won't get too deep into my predictions. But I am very pleased with the draw today and excited about lots of matches US/England, Mexico/South Africa, Argentina/Nigeria, Netherlands/Cameroon, Germany/Australia, Australia/Ghana, Brazil/Cote d'Ivoire Portugal/Brazil, Cote D'Ivoire/Portugal.