The much awaited draw & fixtures for the 2014 Football World Cup in Brazil was announced on Friday, we look at the winners and losers from the draw.
Italy: Italy coach Cesare Prandelli complained before the draw about how the seeding system was flawed Italy were in pot 4 while Switzerland were in pot 1 and after the draw he will still be fuming after this draw as Italy have been thrown into a group already tipped as “The Group Of Death” Alongside Italy are England, Uruguay and Costa Rica and to add salt to the wounds Switzerland drew Honduras, Ecuador and France. They will also have to play their opening game in Manaus the city described as the place to avoid with 80%+ humidity and sometimes temperatures over 30 degrees. This just showed how flawed the seeding system is and might be Italy who will pay the price for it.
England: Another member of the Group Of Death this is exactly what England fans didn’t want from the draw two very tough matches against Uruguay and Italy and a potential banana skin in the form of Costa Rica plus having to play in Manaus where they will be playing two games in the space of four or five days especially when key players such as Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Rio Ferdinand and Ashley Cole are all well into their thirties and you’d wonder if they would all have the legs to last. There will also as always be massive pressure on England when it comes to major tournaments and now more than ever after some recent losses and by the time the summer roles around they will all be feeling the heat.
USA: Not many, myself included would have expected the USA to qualify but after landing in a group with Germany, Portugal and Ghana their chances are looking very, very slim. Coach Jurgen Klinsmann said it “Couldn’t get anymore difficult”. Germany have a fantastic world cup record and the depth of talent at their disposal is unbelievable, trying to stop a Cristiano Ronaldo led Portugal is no easy task. Even their weakest opposition Ghana still have players such as Kevin-Prince Boateng, Michael Essien and Asamoah Gyan. All in all it would be a minor miracle if the USA were to get out of this group
Spain: Although the reigning champions, last summers Confederations Cup in Brazil, which included a 3-0 loss to Brazil in the final showed that they are not quite the force they used to be and can be exposed the team from four years ago remains largely unchanged and with lynchpins in the team such as Xavi, Iniesta starting to show their age things could be tricky. They are in a group with the Netherlands, Chile and Australia.
In a repeat of the 2010 final Spain will take on The Netherlands in their opening match. This Netherlands team are a World Class side and if Spain don’t start quick and lose then that would put them on a course of meeting the favourites Brazil in the last 16 which would not be the last thing they want.
France: Only few weeks ago France had lost their first world cup playoff 2-0 to Ukraine it looked as if coach Didier Deschamps would be sacked but they turned it around and things have changed dramatically. Before it looked like they wouldn’t qualify now here they are in a group with Switzerland, Honduras and Ecuador. Switzerland the weakest top seed, Honduras are the bookies choice of least likely to win with odds at 3000-1 and Ecuador are nothing special they could have got much worse from Pot 4. They should have no problems qualifying from this group you feel the only thing that will stop them is their own attitude.
Argentina: Argentinians will have been over the moon and saw that Argentina ended up with Bosnia, Iran and Nigeria. Even with Messi injured at the moment they won’t be worried such is the luck of the draw. Bosnia and Iran should be no problem, Nigeria are a good team and have some good players but considering the quality of Argentina it shouldn’t be to hard for them it also gives them opportunity to rotate their Squads so they will be fresh for the knockout stages.
Brazil: Brazil are now favourites with the odds being 10-3 after the draw it was a good draw for Brazil they ended up with Croatia, Mexico and Cameroon. They are all good teams but they are also all teams that Brazil fans would expect them to beat. It should leave them ready for the knockout stages and allow them to gain momentum which is crucial especially for the host nation.
We can see from the draw that we are set up for what looks like a brilliant world cup. There are some cracking matches in store and it is also being hosted in a country where football is considered more of a religion then a sport. So now time to start counting down the days.