Occasional musings, Geistesblitze, photos, drawings etc. by a "resident alien", who has landed on American soil from a far-away planet called "Germany".

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

FIFA World Cup 2010: The 8 starting groups

On Dec. 4, the 8 groups to start the first phase in World Cup play next year will be determined in Cape Town in a ceremony broadcast to the entire world, emceed by one of S. Africa's most notable exports, Charlize Theron. This thread will give readers a chance to comment--I'll start with a preview...


Ulrich said...

The 32 participating sides have been placed in 4 'pots', with pot 1 containing the host nation and 7 seated teams:

Pot 1: S. Africa, Argentina, Brazil, England, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain

Pot 2: Australia, Japan, N. and S. Korea, Honduras, USA, Mexico, N. Zealand

Pot 3: Algeria, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay

Pot 4: Denmark, France, Greece, Portugal, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland

S. Africa has been placed in Group 1. Each of the other teams from Pot 1 will be placed by lot into one of the remaining groups.

Then, one team each from groups 2-4 will be added, again by lot, to each group. There is a proviso that with the exception of Europe, no teams from the same continent will be placed in the same group--I don't know the procedure used to assure this while maintaining the randomness of the draw.

Ulrich said...

oops--make that "from pots 2-4" at the beginning of the last paragraph.

Ulrich said...

The FIFA website answers my procedural question about how the separation between continents will be achieved in a fair way--I quote:

The first two African teams [drawn] from Pot 3 will be placed into the groups with Brazil and Argentina. The first S. American team from Pot 3 will be placed into Group A with S. Africa...A maximum of two European teams may occupy the same group, and this will be the case in five of the eight groups [namely, those 5 groups with a seated European team; the corollary is that there will be at least one European team in each group]

The draw that emerges is important throughout the tournament--I'll get back to that tomorrow once the groups are known.

PhillySolver said...

A pretty good draw for all of the top seeds. Brazil have to be their usual steady selves as their group seems to have the most combined talent. Germany, Spain and Italy are well positioned, however, I predict Italy will find a way to just squeak through. The US has a real chance. Mexico and France will battle it out, but I predict France makes it. Any upsets predicted?

Ulrich said...

@Phillysolver: I haven't perused the comments yet--they will start to pour in soon. I don't want to make any predictions myself since I did so poorly in the qualifying round: I predicted Russia and Ukraine to go through, as opposed to Slovenia and Greece!

Instead of guessing, I played the tournament through by using strictly the current FIFA rankings (which do not reflect the true strengths of the teams AFAIK--e.g. I think France is ranked too high (#7) just one place behind Germany (#6)--but it's an interesting exercise anyway). This is what I get (losers in parenth's):

Round of 16: France (Greece); Argentina (Mexico); England (Serbia); Germany (USA)!!!; Netherlands (Paraguay); Italy (Cameroon); Brazil (Chile); Spain (Portugal)

QF: France (England); Germany (Argentina)--as in 2006!!!; Brazil (Netherlands); Spain (Italy)

SF: Spain (Germany)--the 2008 Euro final!!; Brazil (France) as in 2006!!!

Final: Spain (Brazil)

To me, the biggest unknown is Brazil--it performed poorly (by their standards) in 2006 and will be under enormous pressure to do better this time around. On the other hand, it seems to me (from the few occasions I watched them play) that they have become a more normal team--less unpredictable fireworks and more emphasis on the basics, especially on a solid defense. The upshot could be that they are easier to figure out (and therefore to play) than they have been in the past. But hat should not be too much of a consolation to their opponents: They simply have great players for every position, including their goalie. In any case, I am eager to see how they get into the tournament.

And a final Brazil vs. Spain seems to be a real possibility, which would pit the current #1 and #2 teams against each other, an exciting prospect, even for a German who is, of course, rooting for his side...

Ulrich said...

Here are some interesting first reactions from national coaches:

My favorite by Pim Verbeek (Australia): "... the first match against Germany is decisive for us. As a Dutchman, I know how to beat Germany."

The reactions from Danish, Brazilian and Portuguese coaches confirm my impression that Group G may be the hardest.

Dunga (Brazil) said: "Our group is the hardest. The world of soccer has grown so tight that there are no easy opponents any more. The match Brazil against Portugal is like Brazil A against Brazil B b/c so many players born In Brazil play in Portugal."

Queiroz (Portugal): "Our match against Brazil is the most exciting of the preliminary round...Hopefully we'll be qualified before we play Brazil."

Ulrich said...

I just realized that my post listing the 8 groups disappeared into a black hole in cyberspace. Here they are again:

A: S. Africa, Mexico, Uruguay, France
B: Argentina, Nigeria, S. Korea, Greece
C: England, USA, Algeria, Slovenia
D: Germany, Australia, Serbia, Ghana
E: Netherlands, Denmark, Japan, Cameroon
F: Italy, Paraguay, N. Zealand, Slovenia
G: Brazil, N. Korea, Ivory Coast, Portugal
H: Spain, Switzerland, Honduras, Chile

football news said...

Well, as we can see, this World Cup is not so lame as it started and seems like. I hope that the next stages will show us what soccer is stands for! :)