Draw is Friday, at noon eastern, and it'll be televised on ESPN2, and I'm sure that FIFA will do some sort of internet telecast of the draw.
The seeds were determined by taking the top 7 teams from the October 2009 FIFA rankings, plus South Africa, as hosts, and making them the "seeded" teams, putting them in pot 1 for the draw. Qualifiers from CONCACAF and Asia are in pot 2, South American and African qualifiers in pot 3, and the remaining European teams in pot 4. So, the pots look like this:
Pot 1- Brazil, Argentina, Holland, Italy, Germany, England, Spain, South Africa Pot 2- Japan, South Korea, North Korea, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Mexico, Honduras Pot 3- Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, Algeria, Paraguay, Chile, Uruguay Pot 4- France, Portugal, Slovenia, Switzerland, Greece, Serbia, Denmark, Slovakia
8 groups, one team from each pot per group, and there you go. At first glance:
Possible "Group of Death"- Brazil, Japan/USA, Cameroon, France/Portugal
Best Case for the USA- South Africa, USA, Uruguay (?), Serbia
Worst Case- See Group of Death.
France and Portugal not being seeded and Asia and North America being put into the same pot really could put up some interesting results
I'd swap out Uruguay and Serbia for Algeria and Slovenia.
Serbia in particular could surprise a few people, although Vidic looks increasingly human for Manoo these days so they might not be as strong defensively as they could be.
Algeria are just a poor side though and anyone should be delighted to draw them.
Yeah, I can see that. I'd prefer to avoid Brazil and Argentina, Italy I'm not sure about, England and Holland would be ok, I guess, and, well, we beat Spain in the Confederations Cup, so the precedent is there.
If you believe in premonitions though, the US may be in for a nice run:
Italy '90- Lost all 3 matches in the Group Stage in first Finals appearance in 40+ years USA '94- Made the knockout round, narrow 1-0 loss to eventual champion in Round of 16 France '98- Dreadful performance, out in Group Stage after 3 losses Korea/Japan '02- Made the knockout round, narrow 1-0 loss to eventual runners-up in quarterfinals. Germany '06- Poor performance, out in Group Stage after 2 losses and a draw.
So, if you give patterns any credibility, then we could be looking at a run to the semifinals. I'm not sure about that, but I think that, with the right draw, there can be legitimate thoughts about making the knockout stages, at the very least.
Other than the awesomeness that is Iniesta (who was injured I think) I'm not sure they could've had a stronger team, and Fabregas isn't a half-bad replacement. They were protecting a record breaking unbeaten run as well, so it's not like they were just dialling it in.
You should still totally want to avoid 'em in the groups though. Along with Brazil and England I'd say they were one of the elite teams out there just now.
As far as the seeded teams go, if I were a US fan, I'd want to be drawn in a group with South Africa or Argentina. South Africa have only won once in the last 11 games. Argentina qualified by the skin of their teeth and I'm not convinced that Diego Maradona is the man to lead them to glory. The guy is way too volatile and it wouldn't shock me if he's relieved of his position before the tournament even starts. Of Pots 3 and 4, Algeria or possibly Paraguay from Pot 3 and Denmark or Slovenia from Pot 4.
I've decided that my second team for this year's World Cup after England is New Zealand, based solely on the fact that Rory Fallon plays his club football for my team, Plymouth Argyle.
Great fight. Watching it live I thought Marquez had it because he landed the more meaningful punches but Manny came on stronger at the end and might just have done enough to edge it. First fight was a draw.