Looking for this World Cup’s ‘Group of Death’? It doesn’t exist anymore. Here’s why…

Follow our England-Iran score blog.

Whenever the draw for the World Cup is complete, the immediate task is to find out which is the “group of death”.

But the boring answer is that there generally isn’t one these days. Changes to the tournament structure mean that four legitimate contenders are less likely to be grouped together.

This World Cup, however, is a small exception. To explain why, here is a brief history of how the group of deaths gradually disappeared.

Also Read :  France announce World Cup 2022 squad: Varane called up and Deschamps will revert to 4-2-3-1

There are three factors at play. The first factor is the expansion of the tournament.

The phrase “group of death” was first coined in 1970, when there were only 16 teams in the tournament. (From 1982 there were 24 teams, from 1998 there were 32, and from 2026 there will be 48.)

As a result, the quality is weakened. For this tournament, 50 percent of the teams would not have even qualified for the tournament if it was held when the “group of death” concept was first defined.

Also Read :  Zelenskiy demands firmer defence of Ukraine grains export corridor

There are apparently the same number of competitors for each World Cup; around eight to 10 sides with a real chance of winning the competition. Once, they were divided into four groups, then they were divided into six, and now eight. The probability of having two – or even three – in the same group has gradually decreased.

The second factor is an increased spread across different confederations. This is not the same as simply widening the competition.

Also Read :  Biden Iran Envoy on Ropes After Pro-Regime Comments

Historically, the real contenders for the World Cup come almost entirely from Europe and South America.

No African nation has ever reached the semi-finals. No team from Oceania has ever reached the quarter-finals. Only one Asian team has ever reached the semi-finals — South Korea on home soil in 2002. And only one North American team has ever reached the semi-finals, the USA back in 1930.

Bobby Charlton


England’s Bobby Charlton battling Brazil’s Clodoaldo in the original ‘Group of Death’ in 1970 (Photo: Syndication/Mirrorpix via Getty Images)

And although the South American contingent for each tournament has expanded broadly in line with the number of nations in general, the European quota has not.

UEFA Nations in the World Cup

Tournament UEFA Nations

1930

31%

1934

75%

1938

87%

1950

62%

1954

75%

1958

69%

1962

63%

1966

63%

1970

56%

1974

56%

1978

62%

1982

58%

1986

58%

1990

58%

1994

54%

1998

47%

2002

47%

2006

44%

2010

41%

2014

41%

2018

44%

2022

41%

FIFA has prioritized regional representation over absolute quality. This is, after all, a World Cup. But this also means that the overall quality is weaker; it means that Italy does not qualify when Saudi Arabia and Tunisia do. That’s entirely fair, but it’s also reasonable to say that the reigning European champions would be a more obvious candidate for any possible group of death.

In fact, the deadliest group ever in a major tournament came not at the World Cup, but at Euro ’96. It included Germany (ranked second in the world), Russia (third), Italy (seventh) and the Czech Republic (10th), and also produced the two finalists.

The third factor, and perhaps the most relevant, is the seeding system.

Let’s go back to that first group of death in 1970. It was no coincidence that the 1970 World Cup produced that group of death, rather than 1962 or 1966. For those two tournaments, the draw was seeding But after failing to reach an agreement about the seeding process before 1970, that tie was open.

The result? The competition’s two most recent winners, England and Brazil, were drawn together in the same group, along with 1962 runners-up Czechoslovakia. Romania were less scary in terms of reputation, although they defeated Czechoslovakia and lost to England and Brazil by just one goal, so they were hardly out of place. FIFA were determined not to let this happen again and every tie since has been seeded.

The seedings have taken many forms, but the system we became familiar with consisted of Pot 1 containing the strongest sides by world ranking (along with the hosts), and everyone else placed in geographical pots only (rather than further seeding by sites).

Therefore, it was possible for one group to include a top seed, along with a strong European side, a strong South American team and a strong African side, even if they were all in the top 16 countries in the tournament.

That system was used until 2014. From 2018, things changed. Now the hat is seeded throughout, and the pots are determined by world position rather than by geography.

That meant the deadliest possible group for the 2018 World Cup was significantly less deadly than in previous years. In fact, the third strongest side in the deadliest possible group was weaker than the fourth strongest side from the deadliest groups in previous tournaments, according to the world rankings.

Team 1 Team 2 Team 3 Team 4

1998

Germany (1)

England (6)

Colombia (9)

Mexico (11)

2002

Spain (1)

Mexico (9)

England (10)

Paraguay (14)

2006

Brazil (1)

USA (9)

the Netherlands (10)

Paraguay (15)

2010

Brazil (1)

France (9)

USA (10)

Cameroon (14)

2014

Spain (1)

the Netherlands (8)

Chile (12)

USA (13)

2018

Germany (1)

Spain (8)

Costa Rica (22)

Nigeria (41)

2022

Brazil (1)

Mexico (9)

Senegal (20)

Wales (18*)

There is a further complication with the 2022 World Cup, however — marked by that star.

Due to some qualifiers being postponed due to the pandemic – and war delaying Ukraine’s play-offs against Scotland and Wales – the draw for the 2022 World Cup took place before we knew the three teams as we did not they had played their play-off games. matches. Therefore, those playoff teams were placed in Pot 4, regardless of their position.

This was particularly relevant in the case of Wales, who defeated Ukraine to secure their place. If that play-off had taken place before the draw, Wales’ position of 18 would have made them a Pot 3 team (and, indeed, a Pot 2 team but for the 51st-placed hosts, Qatar automatically in Pot 1) . Instead, they were in Pot 4.

So whatever group Wales were drawn into would be tougher than FIFA had originally predicted. They were drawn alongside England (ranked fifth), USA (15th), and Iran (21st). Which may not be overwhelmingly death compared to 1970, for example, but it’s actually much stronger than anything four years ago — and that’s without considering the rivalry between England and Wales and the tension between the USA and Iran .

Whether you consider there to be a death group is a matter of opinion. But it’s probably more lethal than any World Cup group we’ll see again because of expansion to a 48-team World Cup from 2026, along with increased geographic spread.

FIFA plans to adapt for the 48-team tournament by using 16 groups of three, with two sides progressing to the knockout stage. That has two implications for possible groups of deaths.

Firstly, on the (highly unlikely) assumption that the tournament is made up of the top 48 teams in the world and the draw is seeded all the way through, each group would contain a team ranked 33rd or lower . Apparently, once you account for quotas from each confederation, it seems more likely that the average ranking of Pot 3 sides will be in the 50s or 60s.

Secondly, and perhaps more significantly, when two out of three sides progress from each group, things are less fatal. A 67 percent chance of progression doesn’t feel terribly risky. By 2026, the concept of the group of death will definitely be dead.

(Photo by Marco Machado/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images)



Source

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Related Articles

Back to top button