More than one group of death?
If you go by the numbers, then Group B at the FIFA World Cup is a so-called ‘group of death’. However, there are several other groups where fans can expect close competition for the two spots that will guarantee passage to the knockout round. The...
If you go by the numbers, then Group B at the FIFA World Cup is a so-called ‘group of death’. However, there are several other groups where fans can expect close competition for the two spots that will guarantee passage to the knockout round.
The world rankings place Group B rivals England at number five, the United States (USA) at 14, Wales at 19, and Iran at 23. However, expert analyst Clyde Jureidini thinks there are other groups that will be just as close. He named Group A, where the Netherlands stand at world number eight, with Senegal at 18, Ecuador at 44, and host Qatar at 49.
Jureidini also pinpointed Group H, with Portugal, Uruguay, Ghana, and South Korea and Group E, containing Spain, six, Germany, 11, Japan, 24, and Costa Rica, 34, as possibly being tight, too.
“Similar to Group B, Portugal and Uruguay should be there. Ghana can upset, but Korea, maybe not expected to do that, and that’s three teams there,” he itemised.
Jureidini used current form as a guide in Group E. He said Spain and Germany have big reputations but “both of them really haven’t been performing.”
He feels the lone Caribbean team could cause trouble.
“Costa Rica, who have overperformed, and return with what is now a mature squad, could upset, and Japan are always the fly in the ointment. They’re going to run at you, no matter what the climate, what the time of year, and you’re in Asia’s continent now. So I think that group, for me, is closest based on what the reality is, not with the ranking numbers, but with the teams and the performance on the field at this time of year,” he concluded.
Despite an earned reputation as a tournament team, 2014 winners Germany haven’t convinced Jureidini that they will be a force in Qatar, host country of the World Cup starting on November 20.
“This is one of the few years that I’ve seen that even approaching the tournament, they just look off colour,” he explained.
Ankle injuries have forced striker Timo Werner and midfielder Marco Reus out of contention.
He underpinned his focus on Group E with a similar analysis for 2010 champions Spain.
“They haven’t been the classic team of 10 years or so ago when you could bet your bottom dollar on clubs and (national) teams to perform. They’re now just coming back into ascendancy, and so there’s a not-so-sure attachment for me around both of those, even though I expect them to do enough to get ahead, but Japan are going to test them, and Costa Rica are going to come up with a game or two in the group stage,” he warned with a nod to a veteran Costa Rica quartet of skilled Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper Kaylar Navas, ex-Sunderland and Everton defender Bryan Oviedo, former Fulham midfielder Bryan Ruiz, and ex-Arsenal forward Joel Campbell.