After every World Cup draw, it has been customary to fight over which group can be dubbed the “Group of Death.” While there may not be just one difficult group, there are certainly a few groups that stand out as slightly more stacked than others.
Group F’s combination of Germany, Mexico, Sweden, and Korea Republic promises no easy match-ups. Group E, likewise, pairs the traditional powerhouse of Brazil with three nations that could all be considered dark horses: Switzerland, Costa Rica, and Serbia.
The host nation, Russia, was drawn into a very weak group of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Uruguay, the last of which is perhaps the only strong team. The draw also means that Russia v Saudi Arabia will kick off the World Cup.
Group B pits two neighboring and top footballing nations of Spain and Portugal against one another. The group is rounded out by two teams that will likely be overpowered in the process: Morocco and Iran.
Group C is headlined by the superstars of France, but beneath them lie three teams that are very equally matched. Peru, Australia, and Denmark are all teams that can surprise in the tournament, though Denmark may be the favorite to advance with France.
Group D offers a great amount of intrigue. Argentina are the strong favorites to advance, but they bizarrely struggle in the World Cup. Iceland have been dubbed the “hipster’s favorites” and so I am contractually obliged to say so. Also, “Viking clap.” There, that’s done. Croatia and Nigeria make up the group below these two teams and make it very difficult to prognosticate on who might advance.
Group G starts off with two European nations that are bizarrely both over-rated and yet difficult. On paper, both of these teams should do well, boasting superstars from the UEFA Champion’s League. And yet, inevitably one of these teams will find themselves to an early exit. Panama is making its first ever appearance at a World Cup and therefore should be the hipster’s hipster’s team, but they won’t be, likely because there is nothing hip about singing “Panama.” Tunisia will surprise as well.
Finally, Group H lacks a real powerhouse that we would consider a lock to advance, but all four teams are remarkably strong. Poland, Senegal, Colombia, and Japan will all push equally to advance and make this group perhaps the most difficult to predict.
To perform the draw, the nations were divided into pots based on their FIFA rankings.
After the customary combinations of pop music and interpretive dance, FIFA trotted out its World Cup champions to perform the definitely not rigged pulling of balls from glass jar and opening them like Easter eggs.
The United States of America was not in the draw.
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