groupdrawIf you missed Part One of the June 25 2013 World Cup Bracketology report, I went through and explained the qualification process, and gave my picks for who I think is going to qualify out of each confederation. At this stage, with several games to play in UEFA, CONMEBOL, CONCACAF, and the CAF, a lot of this is admittedly educated guess work. But that’s the fun of it!

So here in part two, we’re going to take our 32 qualified teams and break them down into four groups of eight. Let’s start with the hardest group to project – the seeds.

How are the seeds determined? The FIFA rankings supposedly will be the end-all, be-all of the process. That’s how it worked in 2010, with the top 7 teams in the FIFA rankings being joined by the hosts. It hasn’t always worked that way. Sometimes the rankings don’t have a lot to do with it, since Team USA was in the top 8 in 2006 and didn’t receive a seed. Seeding is important – it theoretically keeps you away from other really tough teams. But it’s also not perfect, since we always end up with at least one “Group of Death”.

One of our seeds is already set, as BRAZIL will end up as the seeded team in Group A. Our other seven projected seeds are: SPAIN, GERMANY, ARGENTINA, ITALY, NETHERLANDS, PORTUGAL, CROATIA

This very closely matches the current FIFA rankings, with Italy moving ahead of Colombia, as I think is likely to happen. England is very close to a potential seed position, as are Ecuador and Russia.

Now, the remaining groups, or pots, are generally decided by confederation. The idea here is to keep three or four teams from the same confederation from being in the same World Cup group. So let’s start off with the easy ones.

FIFA-WM 2006Of UEFA’s 13 qualified teams, six of them are in the seeded pot. So that leaves seven remaining teams…almost the perfect amount for pot B. Since we need an eighth team, we’ll toss in New Zealand, who won their playoff with Honduras. Therefore, pot B consists of: SWITZERLAND, BOSNIA, ENGLAND, RUSSIA, BELGIUM, HUNGARY, FRANCE, NEW ZEALAND

The CAF has five qualifiers, and those five pair well with the three CONCACAF qualifiers. As a result, pot C is comprised of COTE D’IVOIRE, EGYPT, GHANA, NIGERIA, TUNISIA, UNITED STATES, COSTA RICA, MEXICO

The heavy lifting is over, since we’ve only got eight teams left. We’ve got for CONMEBOL teams (the three non-seeded auto qualifiers plus Venezuela, who survived the playoff with Uzbekistan) and four AFC teams. So pot D consists of JAPAN, SOUTH KOREA, IRAN, AUSTRALIA, ECUADOR, CHILE, VENEZELA, COLOMBIA

 

Now in 2010, FIFA used a modified draw system so that no two CONMEBOL teams were selected together. I’ll use the same thing in our draws here on the site, just in case they go that route again.

The procedure is to give each seeded team a group first, and then start drawing from the remaining pods beyond that. To spare a lot of space and time, I’m going to reveal the groups that I’ve already drawn, one by one:

 

GROUP A

Brazil

Hungary

Nigeria

South Korea

This is a very weak group if you’re just looking at the FIFA rankings, as Brazil is currently only 22nd (although that’s certain to rise with their Confederations Cup play), Nigeria is 31st, Hungary is 33rd, and South Korea is 40th. Still, all of these teams are talented, and the non-Brazil games should be very close and entertaining, if not necessarily transcendent.

 

GROUP B

Spain

Russia

Ghana

Ecuador

Group of death? Quite possibly. You have the top-ranked team in the world in Spain, the second-best African team in Ghana, the 10th-best team in the world in Ecuador, and the 11th-best team in the world in Russia. Spain has to be wondering what they deserved to get this group. This was all randomly drawn, however – no extra difficulty levels added for the Spanish. That said, do you really think any of these teams can best Spain in the group table?

 

GROUP C

Croatia

Switzerland

Cote d’Ivoire

Colombia

CIV enters with the 13th overall FIFA ranking, but Colombia and Croatia are both top ten. Switzerland is the “worst” team in this group and they’re ranked 14th overall! For pure rankings this is actually the Group of Death, but no one is going to look at a group that includes Switzerland and Croatia and start throwing that term around.

 

GROUP D

Argentina

Belgium

Costa Rica

Japan

Third-ranked Argentina gets a pair of dangerous teams in 12th-ranked Belgium and 32nd-ranked Japan…and they also get Costa Rica, who isn’t that frightening.

 

GROUP E

Germany

New Zealand

Egypt

Australia

Second-ranked Germany takes a picture of this group draw, instagrams it to Spain, and laughs their asses off, as the Germans draw the 47th, 57, and 71st-ranked teams.

 

GROUP F

Italy

England

Mexico

Venezuela

Two Euro heavyweights who just met in UEFA 2012 last year? Sign me up. Mexico would be petrified of this draw. Venezuela would just be happy to be there.

 

GROUP G

Portugal

France

United States

Chile

This group is strange, and if you’re a Team USA fan, you’re probably not too thrilled. The names look really scary, particularly the two European teams. But France at this stage appears to be running on fumes, Portugal is hard to trust in big tournaments, and Chile’s system of play tends to be rather feast-or-famine.

 

GROUP H

Netherlands

Bosnia

Tunisia

Iran

Ugh. What’s the attractive draw in this group? Would the Netherlands even need to field all their regular starters? Bosnia is an intriguing team, but untested on the international stage. Iran and Tunisia are middling at best.

So that’s the draw, and as I said, it was all randomly done, with the exception of pot D, where we made sure that the South American teams were separated from one another.

Just for fun, let’s try to project the Round of 16 matchups based upon the above groups. For a full look at what the bracket template looks like for that, check out the Wikipedia link for the Knockout phase.

 

A1/B2: Brazil vs Russia

C1/D2: Colombia vs Belgium

 

E1/F2: Germany vs Mexico

G1/H2: Portugal vs Tunisia

 

B1/A2: Spain vs South Korea

D1/C2: Argentina vs Cote d’Ivoire

 

F1/E2: Italy vs Australia

H1/G2: Netherlands vs United States

 

So that wraps up our first edition of World Cup Bracketology. The next round of qualifying games don’t occur until the first week of September, so we’ve unfortunately got a long tome to stew on these projections. But I’ll be back then with updated projections, and hopefully we’ll have a clearer picture at that point when it comes to rankings as well.

Questions? Thoughts? Leave a comment below. Thanks for reading.