Today’s draw for World Cup 2018 in Russia has resulted in the following groups:
Group A— Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Uruguay
Group B— Portugal, Spain, Morocco and Iran
Group C— France, Australia, Peru and Denmark
Group D— Argentina, Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria
Group E— Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica and Serbia
Group F— Germany, Mexico, Sweden and Korea Republic
Group G— Belgium, Panama, Tunisia and England
Group H— Poland, Senegal, Colombia and Japan.
A very preliminary review would surmise Russia and Uruguay, Portugal and Spain, France and who knows, Argentina and Croatia, Brazil and who knows, Germany and who knows, Belgium and England, and Poland and Colombia, would be the likely teams to get through. The intriguing groups are C, E, and F.
In Group C, France is the clear favorite, but Peru and Denmark are evenly matched, and Australia will be playing spoiler. In Group E, Brazil is the clear favorite, but the three remaining teams are all capable of coming in second. In Group F, Germany is the clear favorite, but Mexico and Sweden will be fighting for that second slot with Korea Republic as spoiler.
Potentially intriguing Group of 16 matches might include: Uruguay v Portugal, France v Croatia, Spain v Russia, Brazil v Mexico, Argentina v Peru, and Colombia England.
In the quarterfinals, potential match-ups include: Portugal v France in a repeat of Euro 2016 and Spain v Argentina with two teams with the majority of their squads playing in La Liga.
A potential semi-finals scenario would have Brazil and France meeting after Platini’s France defeated Brazil in the 1982 WC quarterfinal, and Zidane’s side won the 1998 WC final and the 2006 WC quarterfinal. Another semi-final could pit perennial European antagonists Spain v Germany, both with young squads sure to meet again in major competitions.
Ultimately, a Brazil v Germany final would pit the two major continental world powers of soccer, South America and Europe, and the two winningest teams in the competition’s history, in a planetary showdown.
A German win would draw them even with Brazil on five cup wins a piece and would provide revenge for the 2002 final, keeping the infamous 2014 WC 7-1 as a painful tie-breaker.
A Brazilian victory would avenge the 2014 debacle, if not fully assuage it, give unassailable double-final victory bragging rights over the Germans, and just as significantly it would create a two-cup gap, making the South Americans the only 6-time winners. A Brazil victory would also put the continent at 10 cup wins to Europe’s 11 ahead of the 22nd World Cup, allegedly to be played Qatar in, wait for it…2022!?