Now that we’ve gone over the procedure for the draw, it’s time to take a look at the possible outcomes. If you love football, but know little about the teams involved, read over this preview and get caught up before the draw begins (11:30am today on ESPN 2).
NOTE: If you want to do your own simulations, you may do so here. It’s pretty addicting.
Four Things To Watch
- The New (and Old) Seeds: FIFA’s rule change regarding seeded teams has created a very interesting mix of pots this time around. Beginning with the 2010 World Cup, seeding is no longer based on past performances, but solely on the FIFA World Rankings from October. This time around, that criteria has given us a new batch of seeded teams in Belgium, Colombia, and Switzerland. While it’s great to see some new teams in Pot 1 this time around, the other teams in the pot certainly won’t like the idea of England, Italy, and the Netherlands unseeded and possibly ending up in their group.
- The Extra Pot 2 Team: Before the draws for Pots 2, 3, and 4 begin, an extra team will be drawn from Pot 4 (which has nine teams) and be placed into Pot 2 to give all four an even number of teams. Again, Pot 1 will be praying that one of the previously mentioned teams doesn’t end up going into Pot 2. Could you imagine Brazil, Italy, and the Netherlands in the same group?
- The United States: Of course, all eyes on this side of the water will be on the United States, who comfortably qualified for Brazil earlier this year. They’ve had a phenomenal year internationally and they’ll need a repeat performance in 2014; judging by the pots, the odds are good that they’ll end up in a tougher group this time around.
- The Groups of Death: Every big tournament sees a group labels as the “Group of Death”, meaning that three strong teams are thrown into a single group from which only two can advance. Back in 2010, Groups D and G were considered by most to be the Groups of Death. After today’s draw, we’ll know what group will get that distinction and we’re almost guaranteed to get more than one this time around. Don’t believe me? Check out the simulation down below.
Four Teams To Avoid (by pot)
- Brazil: No one ever wants to play the host nation in the group stage, especially when that nation is Brazil. The other three teams in the group will be playing for second.
- Ghana: I’ve said it every World Cup since 2006 and I’ll say it again — watch out for the Black Stars, who were a Suarez handball and a missed PK away from making the semifinals in 2010.
- United States: The Yanks are playing their best football in years. Going 16-3-4 for the year and outscoring your opponents 51-22 certainly make you a team to avoid.
- Netherlands: The World Cup runner-up unseeded? Even with England and Italy also in the same position, this is an easy one.
Four Teams You Want To Play (by pot)
- Belgium: Always full of talent, but rarely putting it all together, Belgium is in the World Cup for the first time in 12 years. But two recent home losses to Japan and Colombia make me question how good they will be in Brazil.
- Nigeria: Their fifth qualification in their last six tries, but they haven’t won a World Cup match since 1998.
- Iran: 7-2-1 on the year, but they’ve only played other Asian teams. Judging by the rest of the pot, they’ll likely be the worst team in their group.
- Greece: Never made it past the group stage and only victorious in one World Cup match.
Four 2010 Rematches I Want To See
- Spain vs. Netherlands: Whether you found the 2010 Final entertaining or not, why wouldn’t you want to see a rematch in the group stage.
- Uruguay vs. Ghana: I’m still mad about the Suarez handball. I’m sure Ghana is as well and ready for a rematch.
- Germany vs. England: After being embarrassed by the Germans 4-1 last time around, I want to see the Three Lions at least make a match out of the next one.
- United States vs. Algeria: The most thrilling match in the history of USMNT needs an encore. But preferably a more decisive result for cardiac-related reasons.
Four World Cup Draw Simulations
Remember when I said there would be multiple Groups of Death? Here are just four out of the many simulations that prove my point:
Plenty of intrigue to be found here. The U.S. gets paired with Brazil, but also have Algeria and Greece. Groups C, F, and G are where the real fun is. Belgium, Ghana, Japan, and England will give us six great matches every time. Group F will probably leave behind either Mexico or Portugal. And Group G puts 2010 disappointments France and Italy with rising Colombia and Costa Rica.
Most eyes will be on Group A here as Brazil will get both England and the Netherlands at home. Keep in mind that the Dutch knocked out Brazil in 2010. Over in Group E, Germany gets in a Group of Death with Mexico, France, and Chile. Don’t sleep on Group C here, either. The U.S. still have a difficult road, but it could be worse — check out these last two.
See? No way the Americans want this outcome. The real fun is to be had in Groups E through G. There’s a lot of great football to be played in this simulation. As for this last one…
WOW. Group of Death doesn’t do Group A justice. The U.S. could easily go winless here. Also Groups B, C, D, F, and G? I can’t wait for this draw.