From: Lléo Subject: Groups of death Date: 2003-02-21 19:54:14 PST It seems that no matter how much care is taken on deciding the seeds, luck of draw (or lack of it) always finds its way to create groups that are perceived as much stronger than the others, the famed "groups of death". World Cup examples I can think of are: WC'94 - Italy, Ireland, Mexico, Norway WC'98 - Spain, Nigeria, Paraguay, Bulgaria WC'02 - Argentina, England, Sweden, Nigeria Interestingly, only Italy in 1994 and England in 2002 made it past the second round, and only Nigeria appears twice. But apart from Nigeria'98, all the others who survived the group came very close to the QF. It took a golden goal to eliminate Paraguay in 1998 and Sweden in 2002, and penalties to take care of Mexico in 1994. On the Euros I can think of two similar examples, a group with Germany and Italy in 1996 (European runner up and WC runner up, back then), and Holland and France in 2000 (WC semifinalist and winner). Also, Germany/England in the same EC could be mentioned, weren't both of them so poor in the competition. Are there other examples, WC and continental nt competitions? ===================================================================== From: stefan k02 Subject: Re: Groups of death Date: 2003-02-21 23:51:55 PST "Ll o"
wrote > WC'94 - Italy, Ireland, Mexico, Norway Are you joking? Group of Deathly Boredom more like. Anyway if you include Nigeria and Bulgaria in your group of death in 98 (when they were much, much weaker than in 94) then Argentina, Nigeria, Bulgaria and Greece was the toughest group. Although Greece were probably the worst European side ever to play in the WC..so I'm not sure. Certainly Mexico, Ireland and Norway (and even Italy) had dull functional sides in 94, and not much else. > WC'02 - Argentina, England, Sweden, Nigeria Agree with that. Not often the best sides from each of the 4 seeding pots will end up in the same group. > On the Euros I can think of two similar examples, a group with Germany and > Italy in 1996 (European runner up and WC runner up, back then), and Holland > and France in 2000 (WC semifinalist and winner). Also, Germany/England in > the same EC could be mentioned, weren't both of them so poor in the > competition. Euro 96 was the worst football tournament in history (saved from being the most boring tournament ever, by the recent African Nations Cup) and fortunately I have blanked the goalless draws, and the penalty shoot outs from memory. There were always stronger groups when the Euro Championship had 8 teams rather than 16. And Germany and England were 2 of the weakest teams in Euro 2004. The current large scale tournaments are never going to throw up the sort of groups we got with 8 EC qualifiers or 16/24 WC qualifiers in the final tournaments.Post a follow-up to this message ===================================================================== From: Lléo Subject: Re: Groups of death Date: 2003-02-23 19:57:01 PST stefan k02 wrote: > Are you joking? Not intentionally. > Group of Deathly Boredom more like. Probably, but then I am not talking about style. > Anyway if you include Nigeria and Bulgaria in your group of death in > 98 (when they were much, much weaker than in 94) then Argentina, > Nigeria, Bulgaria and Greece was the toughest group. Nigeria and Greece were at their first World Cup. Bulgaria had never won a World Cup match before (and they had what, about 15 previous attempts...). If anything, it looked like a rather generous group before the WC began. Of course, Nigeria turned out to be a tough team and Bulgaria made the semis. But in a time where three out of four teams could qualify to the second round, having only one weak team in a group is hardly a sign of a group of death. Regarding the 1998 group, which other one would replace Spain's group? A priori: Spain (Portugal'02 four years earlier, they were held as favourites for winning the WC), Bulgaria (WC'94 semifinalist), Nigeria (won the Olympics in 1996 knocking off Brasil and Argentina, plus IIRC they were African champions at the time) and Paraguay (had one of the best back lines of the tournament). > Although Greece > were probably the worst European side ever to play in the WC..so I'm > not sure. Certainly Mexico, Ireland and Norway (and even Italy) had > dull functional sides in 94, and not much else. I rate Italy very highly, but have you ever seen an Italian team strolling past round 1? Mexico, Ireland and Norway were evenly matched sides grouped with the most unstable, though ever the favorite, of all the first seeds. And of course, with hindsight, the group that finished 4-4-4-4 and decided on a goal difference of 2 between the 1st and 4th placed teams MUST have been the closest ever. Even more than England's 1990 group (though certainly not duller). ===================================================================== From: Markus (firstname.lastname@example.org) Subject: Re: Groups ofdeath Date: 2003-02-22 04:36:42 PST (stefan k02) wrote > Are you joking? Group of Deathly Boredom more like. Since when did groups of death have to be entertaining? And how many times in the history of the World Cup have all four teams in a group finished with four points each and equal goal difference? Indeed this was the group of death in 94. > Anyway if you include Nigeria and Bulgaria in your group of death in > 98 (when they were much, much weaker than in 94) then Argentina, > Nigeria, Bulgaria and Greece was the toughest group. Although Greece > were probably the worst European side ever to play in the WC..so I'm > not sure. A group is considered a group of death when all sides are considered to have somewhat equally good chances of advancing. Greece were the weakest team in the 94 WC and never stood a chance against the other three. ===================================================================== From: Karel Stokkermans (email@example.com) Subject: Re: Groups of death Date: 2003-02-24 15:02:46 PST Bruce wrote: > 2nd round groups of death have been very good at times: from 1982 we had > Italy-Argentina-Brasil and England-Germany-Spain. The ultimate group of death was in Euro 1976 qualifying. It had Poland, Italy and the Netherlands fighting for one place in the quarter-finals in the tournament, where any sensible ranking system would have included each of the three in the continental top-8. (Poland and the Netherlands had been among the top-3 at the World Cup 1974 while Italy had narrowly failed to get past Argentina and Poland there but would reach the 1978 final four (along with the Netherlands, and Poland also reached the last 8 of the 1978 World Cup.) The Netherlands qualified, on goal difference ahead of Poland, while Italy dropped a point to the fourth team in the group, Finland. Other quarter-finalists included continental superpowers like Wales (winning their group ahead of Hungary) and Belgium (trashed 7-1 on aggregate by the Dutch at that stage). The Dutch 'performance' in the final tournament (losing to Czechoslovakia in the semi-finals because they were only thinking of the final against West Germany) ranks as the most disappointing in Dutch history (however rich in this respect). It does not bode well for March 29 either, the Czech(oslovak)s are our bête noir. Cheers, Karel ===================================================================== From: Michael Hynes Subject: Re: Groups of death Date: 2003-03-03 10:00:09 PST Sheridan Elliot wrote: > The Netherlands were thrust into another nightmare group in the qualifying > competition for WC 1982. It comprised France, Belgium, the Netherlands, > Ireland and Cyprus. But the Netherlands were, as John would put it, mince in those days. Very poor 1980 Euro, and didn't qualify for Euro 84 or WC 1986 either. Since Ireland at that point had never qualified for anything, and France had accomplished very little at international level since 1958 (come to think of it I don't recall anybody expressing any surprise when England crushed them in the first round in 1982) , this group, at the time, did not look all that difficult. It did have two qualifiers from the previous WC, and two from the previous Euro, so it was definitely among the more difficult groups, perhaps even the most difficult. But it wasn't too radically different from: Hungary 10 England 9 Romania 8 Switzerland 7 Norway 6 Yugoslavia, Italy, Denmark, Greece (both Italy and Greece were in Euro 80) Scotland 11 N Ireland 9 Sweden 8 Portugal 7 Belgium and France qualified, and Holland (beaten > finalists at the two previous World Cups) could only finish fourth. The > final table read: Belgium 11 pts, France 11 pts, Ireland 10 pts, Netherlands > 9 pts, Cyprus 0 pts. How about Ireland's feat in 1988 of beating 3 qualifiers from the previous WC to the sole spot for Euro 1988 ? Now that was a group of death ! Ireland 11, Bulgaria 10 Belgium 9 Scotland 9. Scotland, Switzerland, Romania Bulgaria for 1992 was pretty tight too. Closest finish in qualifying has to be for 1974. Sweden Austria and Hungary level on points, and Sweden and Austria level on Goal difference. A playoff was required. I was also surprised to see that alleged World-beaters Holland only scraped through on goal difference over Belgium that year. Both matches between the two were drawn 0-0.