Friday, December 09, 2005

World Cup draw

This is where I, along with every other football blogger in the known universe, analyze the groups and predict which teams will move on to the next round -- only to look like idiots six months from now, when one of the established powers fails spectacularly and one of the guppies stages an upset.

Note: Figures in brackets are current FIFA rankings and odds of winning, according to the Guardian. (And just how fucked up are those FIFA rankings, anyway, if you compare them to the odds for each team.)

Group A
Germany (16; 7-1)
Costa Rica (21; 350-1)
Poland (23; 80-1)
Ecuador (37; 125-1)

A fairly easy group for the hosts. Germany should go through without a problem. The second team is a tough one to call, but I think probably Poland, especially playing so close to home.

Group B
England (9; 7-1)
Paraguay (30; 80-1)
Trinidad & Tobago (51; 750-1)
Sweden (14; 33-1)

Any group with the minnows from Trinidad & Tobago has to look inviting. England should go through easily (but then, they should also have been able to beat Northern Ireland, so...). Sweden is the one team in the group liable to present them with problems, and is also probably going to join them in the round of 16.

Group C
Argentina (4; 6-1)
Ivory Coast (41; 50-1)
Serbia & Montenegro (47; 50-1)
Netherlands (3; 9-1)

Aha, the infamous Group of Death. Argentina and the Netherlands should go through, but it certainly won't be easy. Both the Ivory Coast and Serbia & Montenegro are capable of an upset.

Group D
Mexico (7; 66-1)
Iran (19; 250-1)
Angola (62; 500-1)
Portugal (10; 20-1)

This one looks fairly straightforward, with Portugal and Mexico going through. The matchup between Portugal and their former colony, Angola, could be interesting, though.

Group E
Italy (12; 7-1)
Ghana (50; 200-1)
USA (8; 80-1)
Czech Republic (2; 28-1)

If Group C is the Group of Death, then this one is, as my friend Amanda said, the Group of Serious Bodily Harm. Italy and the Czech Republic to go through, although the US could surprise if either of the European teams falter.

Group F
Brazil (1; 11-4)
Croatia (20; 50-1)
Australia (49; 100-1)
Japan (15; 125-1)

I guess Australia should be happy that they get a chance to play Brazil in the first round of their first World Cup, because there's no way they're going to make it out of the group stage. Brazil and Croatia.

Group G
France (5; 12-1)
Switzerland (36; 100-1)
South Korea (29; 150-1)
Togo (56; 350-1)

It's possible that France will crash out early the way they did in 2002, but I think they'll go on to the round of 16 at least before self-destructing. The scrappy South Koreans should be the second team.

Group H
Spain (6; 12-1)
Ukraine (40; 50-1)
Tunisia (28; 200-1)
Saudi Arabia (32; 500-1)

Spain lucked out with this group, especially after their dodgy qualifying run. I expect them to go through, along with the Ukraine. They'll be hoping that the Saudis are obliging enough to give up 8 goals, as they did against Germany last time.

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