2010 FIFA World Cup: Power Ranking Each Group's Difficulty, Looking Back
With Spain's 2-1 victory over Chile on Friday afternoon, the 2010 FIFA World Cup's Group Stage concluded its 48 grueling matches.
The original 32 teams had been cut to just 16 advancing squads, despite quite a few dramatic games to determine which two of the four teams in each group would move on.
There were last-second goals, crushing defeats, scoreless, meaningless draws, and times when it just all came down to the dreaded tiebreaker. Each of the eight lettered groups told its own story, as did each of 32 countries from six continents around the world.
Before the Cup even began, the discussion seemed endless over what groups were easy, what groups were too close to call, and which group was the 2010 edition of the World Cup "Group of Death."
However, now that we're just looking back, how difficult did each group turn out to be? If some special country were to get to choose which group they'd like to be in knowing what we know now, where would they go and where would they want to stay away from?
Here are the final World Cup group-by-group power rankings, now that we've already discovered how each one turned out. Which four teams really did have to suffer through that brutal "Group of Death?"
8. Group B
Advancing Teams: Argentina, South Korea
Despite boasting a talented headline team with Argentina, La Albaceleste destroyed the other three teams in this group like they were whipped cream with a combined goal score of 7-1.
The other advancing team, South Korea, also only finished with a 1-1-1 record, and then their eliminating loss to Uruguay today knocked them below .500 for the tournament. The second spot to move on was open for the taking from Day One, but not one of the three competing teams were strong enough to seriously act like they deserved it.
7. Group F
Advancing Teams: Paraguay, Slovakia
Italy was expected to have no problems with this group of inexperienced squads, but instead they slipped right back into uncertain waters with the rest of them. New Zealand's stoppage-time tying goal in the first round of matches quickly showed that pretty much everyone in Group F was a little unstable, and that definitely proved to be true.
Although the final day was a nervous and dramatic one for all four teams, no country, even advancing Paraguay and Slovakia, showed that they could put together a rock-solid performance when they needed it most.
6. Group D
Advancing Teams: Germany, Ghana
We knew from the start that absolutely nothing was going to be set in stone in Group D until the last day, but we assumed that all four teams had a good chance. While that, in a way proved to be true, Germany's uncharacteristic falters and the others' unpredictable results didn't make any of Germany, Ghana, Australia, or Serbia seem like too much of a contender.
While the Germans do have a decent shot to prove that theory wrong in the knockout round, Group D was one section that just didn't live up to expectations this summer.
5. Group A
Advancing Teams: Uruguay, Mexico
The host's group usually ends up being the most media covered of the entire World Cup. However, this year if that was true, it sure would've left most of us bored from the beginning.
Despite a beautiful goal to open the scoring and thrill the crowd by South Africa's Siphiwe Tshabalala and then a flurry of French team disputes after struggling throughout all three games, Group A ended up falling far short in terms of producing a true trophy-holding contender.
Still, Uruguay and Mexico are no pushovers, but neither were South Africa or France. While this group may not have been the most dramatic or the most intimidating, it did hold an edge over several other groups.
4. Group E
Advancing Teams: Netherlands, Japan
While the Netherlands continued their undefeated record (9-0) in European qualifying all the way through Group E play where they finished 3-0-0 with a 5-1 goal differential, the other three teams competing for the second and final advancing spot actually ended up putting up a decent fight.
Cameroon, despite Samuel Eto'o's best attempts, ended up being one of the biggest disappointments of the tournament, but that set up a surprisingly well-anticipated final match between Japan and Denmark, with the victor moving on. Japan did so in convincing and exciting fashion, winning 3-1, but an array of results and styles made Group E a relatively interesting group to follow, as well as a difficult one to play in.
3. Group C
Advancing Teams: U.S.A, England
We figured both the United States and England would advance from a mediocre-at-best (or so we thought) Group C. But, while the majority of fans around the world got their predictions right, both teams made it quite a bit harder than we figured.
With several referee controversies, Landon Donovan's headline-stealing stoppage-time goal to put America through, and eye-opening plays left and right, Group C was not the most talked-about group just because of the teams in it. This group may not have looked like the most intimidating one, but it provided enough drama for about three entire World Cups, and we all just ate it up.
2. Group H
Advancing Teams: Spain, Chile
The closest and most competitive of the eight groups was, without a doubt, Group H. Although Spain ended up topping the group as expected, the final standings ended up being dramatically different from the way they were just a day before and left out at least one probably-deserving team in Switzerland.
An opening-round upset of the heavily-favored Spaniards sent the last group into a frenzy of questions, and I'm still not sure if they're completely answered. Group H might not have poured goals into the net, but it sure gave us a too-short glimpse of four perfectly matched teams going all out at each other.
1. Group G
Advancing Teams: Brazil, Portugal
Despite having surprises galore throughout the Group Stage, at least one fan consensus actually ended up being right: Group G was definitely this year's infamous "Group of Death."
Group favorites Brazil and Portugal, who ended up being the two squads advancing, combined for an overpowering 12-2 goal deficit in their three games, a number which left even talented Cote D'Ivoire whimpering in a corner with their measly three points. Group G wasn't even close to being the most exciting group to follow...but it was, clearly, the toughest.
Mark Jones is currently Bleacher Report's featured columnist and community leader for the NHL's Carolina Hurricanes as well as an avid follower of several other sports. In his 21 months so far with the site, he has written over 205 articles and received over 150,000 total reads.
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