US Faces Familiar Foes in World Cup ‘Group of Death’
KANSAS CITY—The highly anticipated 2014 FIFA World Cup draw dealt the United States a harsh blow as the Americans were drawn into a group with Germany, Portugal, and Ghana.
The World Cup final draw took place at Costa do Sauipe in the Brazilian state of Bahia on Friday, Dec. 6.
Here’s how the eight groups stand after the draw:
Group A: Brazil, Croatia, Mexico, Cameroun
Group B: Spain, Netherlands, Chile, Australia
Group C: Colombia, Greece, Ivory Coast, Japan
Group D: Uruguay, Costa Rica, England, Italy
Group E: Switzerland, France, Ecuador, Honduras
Group F: Argentina, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iran, Nigeria
Group G: Germany, Portugal, U.S., Ghana
Group H: Belgium, Algeria, Russia, South Korea
“I actually think it’s better that it’s all ‘tough’ teams,” said U.S. midfielder Brad Evans at the World Cup draw event held at the Boulevard Members Club at Sporting Park. “I think that will be valuable come the third game.”
“We think of it all as a challenge and we’re looking to do the best we possibly can,” said another U.S. midfielder Graham Zusi, who will also be competing in the MLS Cup final tomorrow for Sporting Kansas City against Real Salt Lake.
“I figured we’d be labeled as the ‘group of death.’ That’s always a fun storyline. As players, you’re not focused on any of that. You’re taking it one game at a time,” said Zusi.
He also said he didn’t mind being looked at as an underdog.
“You’re going to face great teams either way,” Evans said. “You might as well face the best teams now.”
The U.S.’s run to the quarterfinals at the 2002 World Cup ended at the hands of Germany 1–0. In that same World Cup, the U.S. defeated Portugal in the group stage 3–2. In the 2010 World Cup Round of 16, Ghana eliminated the U.S. 2–1 in extra time.
Group A should see Brazil progress with a very interesting and well-balanced battle developing for second place.
It’s hard to see 2010 World Cup finalists Spain and Netherlands not progressing out of Group B.
Group C is a highly unpredictable group with a good chance for some surprises. Some skeptics might term it one of the weakest groups.
Group D should feature some thrilling storylines as Uruguay’s Luis Suarez who leads Liverpool in scoring takes on England. Italy is, of course, the 2006 World Cup champion.
Some might say Group E might be one of the “easiest” groups. This was the line of thinking heading into the draw with a group headed by Switzerland.
Argentina must like its chances in Group F with Bosnia-Herzegovina making its first appearance. However, qualifying out of Europe without needing to go through a playoff says something about their quality. Iran and Nigeria will feel they have a good shot at second place.
Belgium is the class of Group H. Russia and South Korea are expected to be the most likely to take second place.
The Set Up
The 32 teams to qualify for the World Cup final in Brazil next summer were divided into four pots of eight teams each on Tuesday.
The Pot 1 teams are the eight highest-ranked according to FIFA’s October rankings. The seven Pot 2 teams hail from South America and Africa. Pot 3 teams qualified out of Asia and the CONCACAF region (North and Central America and the Caribbean). Pot 4 teams are the remaining nine that qualified out of Europe and that aren’t in Pot 1.
The principle of geographic separation used in the draw means that two teams from the same part of the world can’t be in the same group, with the exception European teams. A special procedure prevents three European teams from being drawn in the same group.
Pot 1: Brazil, Spain, Germany, Argentina, Colombia, Belgium, Uruguay, and Switzerland
Pot 2: Chile, Ecuador, Algeria, Cameroon, Ghana, Ivory Coast and, Nigeria
Pot 3: Australia, Iran, Japan, Republic of Korea, Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico, and USA
Pot 4: Portugal, Italy, Netherlands, Greece, England, Croatia, France, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Russia
The opening match features the host nation Brazil against Croatia in Sao Paulo on June 13. The final will be played at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro on July 13.
Follow Rahul on Twitter @RV_ETSports