World Cup draw may give new meaning to Group of Death

Champion Spain enjoys relative comfort of being a seed going into Friday’s Brazilian lottery

Adidas' Brazuca ball and the World Cup trophy.
Adidas' Brazuca ball and the World Cup trophy.DIARIO AS

Fifa General Secretary Jerome Valcke caused the scratching of plenty of heads Wednesday as he laid out the mind-twisting method the world governing body had concocted for the World Cup finals draw on Friday.

Faced with the problem of having nine unseeded European teams, instead of four pots of eight teams Fifa placed the Uefa nations into a nine-team fourth pool, leaving Pot 2 with the five African competitors and the two unseeded South American sides, Chile and Ecuador. One Uefa team will be randomly selected from Pot 4 and placed into Pot 2. A “Pot X” will contain the four South American seeds, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia and Uruguay. One ball from this group will be drawn into the same group as the Uefa team in Pot 2, thus helping to avoid a scenario in which one group features two South American sides or three European teams.

What does this mean for the unfortunate Uefa nation? The certainty of facing a seeded South American team, and the possibility of drawing another unseeded European. Portugal, if plucked from Pot 4, could face Brazil or Argentina, one of the African sides, and either Italy, England, Holland, Portugal or France, which would have been the fall guy if Fifa had followed the precedent of 2006 when the lowest-ranked Uefa team, Serbia and Montenegro, was lobbed into a “special pot.” It was eventually drawn against Argentina, Holland and Ivory Coast.

Champion Spain’s worst-case scenario could be to face Ivory Coast, the USA or Mexico, and one of the unseeded Uefa sides.

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