2010 FIFA World Cup Preview: Ranking the Groups
Every World Cup there is always talk about “The Group of Death” and how difficult it is. That title goes to Group G this year.
But in reality, it is difficult to advance from all of these groups. The eight groups each hold four teams that are considered the best soccer teams in the world. It is just an achievement to be one of the 32 teams to qualify for the World Cup.
All of these groups will be difficult, and there is sure to be a few upsets along the way.
Now, will Argentina have an easier time than Brazil in advancing from their group? Probably.
But all eight of these groups are loaded with world class talent. So, let us take a look at each group and decide which group will be the toughest.
No. 8: Group F
Group F is without question the easiest group in this year’s World Cup. The only “good” team is Italy (FIFA World Ranking 5), and the defending World Cup champions are not even considered a real threat to win it all.
Paraguay (31) and Slovakia (34) are middle-of-the-road teams that will battle it out for the runner-up spot in the group. Whoever advances will get eliminated in the Round of 16 by the winner of Group E, the Netherlands.
New Zealand (78) only qualified for the World Cup because Australia moved from the Oceanic region to the Asian region. The All White are just happy to be here.
Top Tier: Italy
Middle Tier: Paraguay, Slovakia
Bottom Tier: New Zealand
No. 7: Group E
Similar to the previous example, Group E is dominated by one team, with several other middle-of-the-road contenders for the second spot in the quarterfinals.
The Netherlands (4) must have been dancing in their little wooden shoes when they watched the World Cup draw and should make easy work of this group.
Unlike Group F that had a guaranteed win in New Zealand, the three remaining teams in Group E don't offer a sure thing.
Cameroon (19) is probably the safe bet to be the runner-up, but if Samuel Eto’o struggles, this team will not survive.
Denmark (36) is a disciplined team that could get hot and advance.
Japan (45) will likely not make it out of the group, but who knows...Maybe they can repeat their 2002 World Cup magic and make it back to the knockout round.
Top Tier: Netherlands
Middle Tier: Cameroon, Denmark, Japan
No. 6: Group B
Group B is filled with diversity. The four teams have completely different cultures and soccer styles, and it will be exciting to see how this will translate against their opponents.
Lionel Messi and Argentina (7) should be able to breeze through the group stage into the knockout despite their troubles in qualifying.
Greece (13), the Euro Champions from 2004, are still defensive experts. But they will need to get the offense going if they want to advance.
Nigeria (21) has been one of the best African teams for some time now. They might join Argentina in the knockout round.
South Korea (47) will have to rely heavily on Manchester United player Park Ji-Sung if they are to advance.
Top Tier: Argentina
Middle Tier: Greece, Nigeria, South Korea
No. 5: Group H
Group H is home to one of the World Cup favorites in Spain (2), but there are several teams that could make a deep tournament run.
Chile (18) is a dark horse that is in position to do some damage in this tournament. Spain needs to be on their game when they play this dangerous team.
Switzerland (24) is a regular at the World Cup and occasionally advances to the knockout round. They have a chance this year but will need all-time leading scorer Alexander Frei to be at his best.
Honduras (38) needed some help to get to the World Cup. They could challenge for the runner-up spot, but it is unlikely.
Top Tier: Spain
Middle Tier: Chile, Switzerland, Honduras
No. 4: Group A
Usually the host nation’s group is one of easier groups. Not this time. Group A is very deep.
France (9) is the cream of the crop, but they needed a hand ball from Thierry Henry against Ireland just to make it to the World Cup. France has been in poor form lately and will need to step it up if they are to advance.
Uruguay (16) is led by goal-scoring machine Diego Forlan, who had a great season with Athletico Madrid. Uruguay is much better than people think and is going to surprise some people this tournament.
Mexico (17) is finally seeing what its “Golden Generation” can accomplish. Mexicans are hopeful for a deep run by El Tri, but they must win their opening match against the hosts.
South Africa (83) does not have a very good soccer team, but the host nation has never failed to reach the knockout stage. So South Africa has that going for them, and they will have a huge home field advantage the entire tournament.
Top Tier: France
Middle Tier: Uruguay, Mexico
Bottom Tier: South Africa
No. 3: Group C
Group C could have been the “Group of Death” had Portugal (3) been selected instead of Slovenia (25). The top dog is England (8), but don’t be too quick to crown them the winners of the group.
United States (14) is gunning to remove England from that throne, and they have the team to do it. If America can repeat its South African magic from last summer in the Confederations Cup, the Yanks may be No. 1 in the group.
Slovenia (25) is what you would expect—a middle-of-the-road European team with a few players on big clubs. They will be a tough foe for whoever they play.
Algeria (30) surprised many by advancing to the World Cup instead of favorite Egypt (12). The Desert Foxes are hoping to pull off another shocker this summer by advancing from this tough group.
Top Tier: England
Middle Tier: US, Slovenia, Algeria
No. 2: Group G
The “Group of Death” is very difficult. Brazil (1) is the likely choice to win the World Cup this year, but it will have its troubles in the early games.
Portugal (3), led by 2008 FIFA Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo, is always a dangerous squad.
Even if Didier Drogba's broken arm sidelines him, the Ivory Coast (27) is still the best team on the African continent.
The reason why Group G is not the toughest group?
North Korea (105).
They win the award for the worst team in the World Cup. For the final time, if North Korea scores a goal against any of the teams in Group G, that team shouldn’t play in the 2014 World Cup.
Top Tier: Brazil, Portugal
Middle Tier: Ivory Cost
Bottom Tier: North Korea
No. 1: Group D
The real “Group of Death” is Group D. From top to bottom, this is the best group in the tournament.
Every team in this group can advance to the round of 16 and further. The winner and runner-up of this group will likely be decided on the final day.
Germany (6) is consistently one the best countries performance-wise at the World Cup. The three-time winners will be without their Captain Michael Ballack, however, and will need the supporting cast to carry the load.
Serbia (15) failed to qualify for the 2006 World Cup but dominated in European qualifying; they finished ahead of France and only lost two matches. Serbia’s captain Dejan Stankovic will try to lead his team out of this difficult group.
Australia (20) advanced to the round of 16 in the last World Cup and will look to do the same this year.
Ghana (32) was a Cinderella pick when the brackets were first announced—before Michael Essien was ruled out of the tournament with an injury. Ghana still is very talented and will try to repeat their magic from four years ago when they advanced to the knockout stage.
Top Tier: Germany
Middle Tier: Serbia, Australia, Ghana
Group D is the winner of the most difficult group in the 2010 World Cup (their participants are overjoyed)! Kaka is just happy he can sleep well tonight knowing that Group C is only the 2nd most difficult group in this tournament.
If you disagree with the list, tell us why.
Let the debate begin...