The game against the Uragays was the best game ive seen. I was there in the stadium and the fans were going bizirk! It was so loud. Cheering, yelling. You'd think you were in England or South america with the atmosphere that was produced that night.
Erickson says Poms scared of the Aussies in World Cup!
I was there in the stadium and the fans were going bizirk!
OMG... Blakky... I am soooo jealous. I am sorry we can't be friends now. I will always be too envious.
From what I understand it was a great unifying event for the nation.
Let the prophesying begin! FIFA have announced the seedings for the World Cup draw and football fans around the globe - well at least those of the 32 teams that have qualified for Germany 2006 - can begin predicting their potential group rivals with a modicum of accuracy.
We may only have to wait until December 9 for the official draw (which will be live on Soccernet, of course) but that will not prevent the bar room banter turning to the consideration of the best and worst scenarios possible for our beloved teams. So in the interest of arming yourself with the power of knowledge let's delve deeper.
The seedings, along with an interesting titbit to astound your friends, can be seen below, but for reasons of Anglo-centrism, as much as the need to explain the complicated mechanics of the draw, we are going to use England as our case study.
England, who have their best chance of reaching a major final since winning the World Cup in 1966, were awarded a seeded spot on Tuesday and were placed second only to Brazil. This is an interesting turn of events given that Sven Goran Eriksson's team were not even seeded for Korea/Japan 2002.
The benefit of being a top seed means that England cannot be pitted against any of the other top ranked teams and that results in an easier group stage - at least in theory.
Each of the eight groups at the finals will be made up of one team from each of the four pots and while Pot One is constructed with the top seeded teams the rest of the pots are ranked geographically and by FIFA's own murky criteria.
• Pot One: Argentina, Brazil, England, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico and Spain • Pot Two: Australia, Angola, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Togo, Tunisia, Ecuador, Paraguay • Pot Three: Croatia, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine • Pot Four: Iran, Japan, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Costa Rica, Trinidad & Tobago, United States • Special Pot: Serbia & Montenegro
Before we head of into the fantastical world of England's 'Dream Draw' it is important to note a few of the other restrictions that FIFA have imposed on the process.
The basic rule is that one team from each pot goes into the make up of each of the eight groups for Germany 2006. No two teams from one continent can be placed in the same group, except for European teams as, with 14 nations through; there must be two UEFA teams in six groups.
This is the reason Serbia & Montenegro have been placed into a separate group (meaning pot four only has seven teams) and they will be placed in a group with Argentina, Brazil or Mexico.
Clear? No? Well all you need to know with regards to England is they will face one team from pots Two, Three and Four. And so, with the tedious necessity of work over it is time to crack on with the dream draw.
Looking at the groupings, an in form England should have no real problem with any of the teams in Pot Two (or Pot Four for that matter) but it would probably be best to avoid our comrades down under in Australia and the typically muscular African nations of Ghana and Ivory Coast.
That leaves us the South American duo of Paraguay, against whom England have a won both meetings 1-0, and Ecuador, who can only play well if the pitch is 2,000 metres above sea level. But worse than those two are African minnows Togo and the lowest ranked team at the finals Angola. The worst of a bad bunch would be the perfect start so let's select Angola.
Pot Three is probably the most troublesome for England as it contains all the other European qualifiers and is easily the strongest pot, bar the top seeds. The most beatable opposition from this selection would be Switzerland, Croatia, Ukraine and Poland. Recent results bear this out; England beat Ukraine 3-0 in a friendly, walloped Croatia 4-2 at Euro 2004, beat Switzerland 3-0 at Euro 2004 and triumphed 2-1 over Poland in World
Further analysis may show Ukraine to be a one man team, but that one man is former European Player of the Year Andrei Schevchenko. eanwhile, Switzerland will be virtually playing at home in Germany and saw off Turkey in their play-off and Croatia are still the best team to emerge from the old Yugoslavia so that leaves Poland, who England have already beaten twice in qualifying.
Pot Four is a mish-mash of CONCACAF and Asian teams and the weakest of the bunch are probably Iran, Costa Rica and then even further down the scale Saudi Arabia and Trinidad and Tobago.
T&T have qualified for the finals for the first time, via a play-off with Bahrain, but they will be the party animals of the Finals and most fans will be willing the Caribbean underdogs to win, including many people in England, and for this incredibly unscientific reason I'm placing the Saudi Arabia orb on the radiator. The Saudi's have got worse at every World Cup since they made their debut and finished last in 2002.
And so, if I manage to rig the draw in Leipzig England's easy route to the knockout phase would be as follows: England, Angola, Poland and Saudi Arabia. Not the most thrilling of groups, but if its excitement England are after than we have to start thinking about the dreaded 'Group of Death'.
There will no doubt be a 'Group of Death', all tournaments must have one, but it seems tough to select a group of four from the teams available that will really strike fear into the England team.
The worst case scenario from Pot Two would probably be either Australia, for reasons of sporting rivalry, or Tunisia. Under former France coach Roger Lemerre Tunisia were crowned African champions in 2004 and the absence of the usual African powerhouses of Nigeria and Cameroon they are probably the best the continent has to offer.
Having said that they still look relatively weak and England's toughest opponent from Pot Two would be Australia. The Socceroos beat Eriksson's team 3-1 in 2003 and an extension of the intense cricket and rugby rivalry between the two countries into football would prove interesting.
Pot Three contains the real ingredients for a 'group of death' with both Holland and the Czech Republic capable of beating anybody on their day. The Czechs can boast a host of stars - Pavle Nedved, Milan Baros, Petr Cech - but Holland were unlucky to miss out on being seeded and are a potent force under manager Marco van Basten. The Dutch will also be playing in neighbouring Germany and the last time the tournament was held there they got to the final. So the Dutch are the ones to watch.
Finally, from Pot Four there can be only one contender and that has surely got to be the cousins across the pond, the USA. Memories of Alexi Lalas' winning header in the US Cup in 1993 and Joe 'Larry' Gaetjens goal that effectively knocked England out of the 1954 World Cup could be laid to rest with a victory over the team ranked 8th (above England) in FIFA's official standings... well that and the fact it is a poor group to choose from.
So after careful consideration England's 'Group of Death' would consist of: England, Australia, Holland and the USA.
They are afraid of us... we beat them before, and they know what we are capable of, and they dont want to meet us... this is pretty good confidence booster, even though I think England would beat us now, they are still afraid and dont want to try...
chicks love it...
Yep. I reckon it was one of the greatest sporting moments in aust history.
Soccer in Australia was never that big, but that night the whole nation was behind the socceroos.
I was screaming so loud, drank so much, jumping up and down so many times it wasnt funny.
Forget england and australia, we all know portugal is going to win it FORCA PORTUGAL
well you got brazil...should be interesting
(does anyone else think italy might exit early)
I don't know if Italy will go out, but look out for Ghana to be a darkhorse in that group, they shouldn't be taken lightly
well you got brazil...should be interesting
Sure should - we've already beaten them once!
Now I've had time to read the draw and all i can say is, "Oh, bother!" or something like that!
Struth, Brazil wouldn't be so bad but Croatia and Japan too!!!!!!!
Even I don't see much hope from this 'group of death' - being realistic at last?
On the other hand, you poms shouldn't have too much trouble.