'Group of Death' scenario faces England in draw after finalists are decided
The failure of Roy Hodgson's men to make the draw as a seeded team means they must face at least one of the world's best in the group games in Brazil.
England are in serious danger of facing a 'Group of Death’ at the World Cup thanks to their failure to secure a seeding for next month’s draw in Brazil.
After Tuesday night’s European and African play-off second legs, 30 of the 32 teams at next summer’s finals have now been confirmed, with Uruguay and Mexico on the brink of joining them on Wednesday.
Although Fifa’s World Cup Organising Committee will not decide upon the precise format of the draw until Dec 3 – three days before it takes place – the odds are stacked against England securing an easy passage to the knockout phase.
Their hopes of being seeded for the tournament were effectively ended last month when Fifa brought forward the cut-off date for teams to break into the top eight in the world rankings.
The decision, taken to prevent those teams involved in competitive play-offs this month gaining an unfair advantage over those playing friendlies, means England are guaranteed to face one of Brazil, Spain, Germany, Argentina, Colombia, Belgium, Switzerland or Uruguay next summer.
Drawing any of the former quartet would be a major blow and it is unlikely to get any easier if Fifa follows the same model as at the 2010 World Cup
That would see England placed in a pot containing seven other European teams, all of whom they would avoid in the draw. The remaining European team would be in a different pot, probably along with the two left-over South American and five African countries.
That means England could easily face one of France, Greece, Croatia, Portugal, Chile, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Cameroon or Ghana.
The fourth pot appears certain to contain the four qualifiers from Australasia and the four from Concacaf and England would certainly not welcome a game against the United States or Mexico.
A desirable group is much harder to come by but Hodgson would doubtless be pleased with drawing Switzerland or Colombia from the top seeds, along with Algeria, Honduras or Iran.
England do have a history, however, of struggling to get out of easy groups and thriving in what appear slightly tougher ones.
At last year’s European Championship, they topped a group containing France, Sweden and Ukraine, while the 2010 World Cup saw them finish second in a group containing United States, Slovenia and Algeria.
It was a similar story at the 2006 World Cup, where despite topping their group in Germany, England struggled to beat both Paraguay and Trinidad & Tobago.
Group of Death Spain, England, Chile, United States.
Group of Life Switzerland, England, Algeria, Honduras.
Who will be in Brazil?
Seeds Brazil, Spain, Germany, Argentina, Colombia, Belgium, Switzerland, Uruguay*.
Europe Holland, Italy, England, Portugal, Greece, Bosnia, Croatia, Russia, France.
South America Chile, Ecuador.
Africa Nigeria, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Algeria, Ghana.
Asia Japan, Australia, Iran, S Korea.
Concacaf Costa Rica, United States, Mexico, Honduras.
1 Brazil, Spain, Germany, Argentina, Colombia, Belgium, Switzerland, Uruguay*.
2 Holland, Italy, England, Portugal, Greece, Bosnia, Croatia, Russia.
3 France, Chile, Ecuador, Nigeria, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Algeria, Ghana.
4 Japan, Australia, Iran, S Korea, Costa Rica, United States, Mexico, Honduras.
*Uruguay lead Jordan 5-0 going into second leg on Wednesday night