Why Portugal would benefit from Group of Death draw

All eyes will be on South Africa today to see what the 2010 World Cup draw holds in store for the 32 qualified teams.

The official announcement of the seedings confirmed that we’re in for some intriguing match-ups.

Portugal knew they wouldn’t be seeded – and they didn’t deserve to after a below-par campaign – but the first question that popped into The Portugeezer's mind immediately after seeing the final setup was:

Who was the genius behind such a seeding system?

Pot 1 (Seeded teams): South Africa, Brazil, Spain, Holland, Italy, Germany, Argentina and England.Pot 2 (AFC, OFC, CONCACAF): Japan, South Korea, North Korea, Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Mexico and Honduras.Pot 3 (CAF, CONMEBOL): Ivory Coast, Ghana, Cameroon, Nigeria, Algeria, Paraguay, Chile and Uruguay.Pot 4 (UEFA): France, PORTUGAL, Slovenia, Switzerland, Greece, Serbia, Denmark and Slovakia.

Unlike the 2006 World Cup where both the FIFA world rankings and past World Cup performances were used to determine the seeding, this time only the world rankings from October 2009 were used in the calculation.

Is it fair that France, runners-up in 2006, aren’t in Pot 1 instead of England or Netherlands?

Some people say it doesn’t matter which teams you play against at the World Cup, because if you harbour title ambitions you should be able to beat any side.

Therefore, it serves no purpose to draw worst-case or best-case scenarios based on how strong or weak the opponents are on paper.

However, group stages can also provide the building blocks of a winning team.

The victory against France in the 2002 World Cup certainly helped Senegal to reach the quarter-finals and enjoy an unforgettable tournament.

Taking into account how the Selecção das Quinas work, a strong group would bring out the best in Portugal at this stage.

Forget about Carlos Queiroz's statement about Portugal being genuine contenders. They aren’t and the Portuguese public are aware of that.

But that’s no reason for failing to put in a good performance. and being up against the odds would actually help them.

With that in mind, The Portugeezer will share with you the group it would like to see Portugal draw.


Knowing the recent history between the two teams, to be in the same group as England would be anything but unexpected.

They beat them at Euro 2000 (an amazing 3-2 comeback), at Euro 2004 (a pulsating penalty shootout) and again at World Cup 2006 (yet another penalty shootout).

No doubt Portugal were lucky, but psychologically they like to play against them. And if they do, they will, once again, be the underdogs.

Under Fabio Capello, the Three Lions have a meaner edge and are more confident than ever, but nonetheless it would be a pleasure to watch another classic match between Portugal and England.


This one is about settling old scores. At the 2002 World Cup in South Korea/Japan, the Americans dealt a major blow in Portugal’s quest to advance to the next round when they beat them 3-2.

This would be the ideal opportunity to make up for that match and enjoy the sweet taste of revenge.

The United States managed to stun the almighty Spaniards in the Confederations Cup semi-final (and took a 2-0 lead against Brazil in the final) and it would be interesting to see how the match would unfold eight years on.

Côte d’Ivoire

The surprise-package of the World Cup will emerge from Pot 3.

Ghana, for instance, has a lot of young talent, including some graduates from the U20 World Cup winning side.

Paraguay and Chile, who enjoyed a comfortable qualification in the CONMEBOL zone, are also curious prospects when considering how tricky South American teams usually are.

However, the team The Portugeezer is expecting the most from is Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast).

The Elephants combine the best of Africa – physical attributes – and Europe – technical skills and tactical awareness - and could be the dark horses of the tournament.

After all, any team that possesses the likes of Didier Drogba, the Touré brothers, Emmanuel Eboué, Didier Zokora and Salomon Kalou must be a strong side.

Playing against them would be a joy to watch and a real test of Portugal’s resolve.

UEFA Competitions

Despite the buzz of the World Cup, Portuguese clubs have continued to push for a place in the knock-out stages of the UEFA competitions.

FC Porto played last week against Chelsea in a lukewarm Champions League match between two teams that had already sealed qualification.

Porto lost 0-1 and now know they’ll face one of the group winners in the last 16.

They have bigger problems in the league, so they won’t be fazed by the prospect of having to play against one of Europe’s finest.

Benfica, Sporting and Nacional went by the book and guaranteed their already-predicted fates in the Europa League.

Benfica went to ice-cold Belarus to play against BATE Borisov. The Eagles didn’t wow but managed to beat the home side with goals from Javier Saviola and Fábio Coentrão.

Nacional went to Bremen knowing that only a miracle could keep their qualification hopes on life support.

Well... it didn’t happen. They were hammered 4-1 by the Germans and will hope to have a proper send-off at Madeira when they host Austria Vienna in their final match.

Sporting knew that a draw would be enough to clinch first place in the group, and that's exactly what they got when left-back Leandro Grimi scored in injury-time as the Lions recorded a 1-1 draw against Heerenveen.


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