The 32-team field is set for the 2010 World Cup and for the next two weeks until the World Cup Draw on Dec. 4 you will see plenty of sample draws to give soccer fans around the world a sense of where teams just might wind up.
SBI isn't going to miss out on that fun. For the next two weeks, we will hold a handful of mock World Cup draws just to get American fans ready for the possibilities, and while the inclusion of surprise teams such as Slovenia and Algeria might make a potential USA draw a bit easier, there are plenty of scenarios that could land the Americans in a Group of Death.
Our First SBI Mock World Cup Draw produces not just one, but two full-fledged 'Group of Death' candidates, which means there are also two groups that can be best described as 'Groups of Life'. Unfortunately for the U.S. national team, it isn't lucky enough to draw one of those two relatively easy groups, though it's group is probably still a decent draw considering the possibilities.
We ran a random draw based on the following four pots, and while we won't know the details of how the actual pots will be made up yet, most estimates of how the pots will look are similar to these:
POT 1-Brazil, Spain, Argentina, France, England, Italy, Germany, South Africa
POT 2– Netherlands, Portugal, Denmark, Slovenia, Greece, Slovakia, Serbia, Switzerland
POT 3– USA, Mexico, Honduras, South Korea, North Korea, Japan, Australia, New Zealand
POT 4– Paraguay, Uruguay, Chile, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Nigeria, Algeria
So who did the Americans wind up with? In this Mock Draw, the USA will wind up facing a familiar foe as well as two teams the United States will like its chances against:
SBI Mock 2010 World Cup Draw
Group A– South Africa, Switzerland, North Korea, Paraguay
Group B– Italy, Serbia, Japan, Chile
Group C– Germany, Slovakia, New Zealand, Algeria
Group D– France, Portugal, Mexico, Ghana
Group E– Argentina, Netherlands, Honduras, Ivory Coast
Group F– Spain, Greece, USA, Uruguay
Group G– Brazil, Slovenia, South Korea, Cameroon
Group H– England, Denmark, Australia, Nigeria
There you have it, a Confederations Cup rematch against Spain for the Americans, as well as a match-up against ultra-defensive Greece and an Uruguay squad that struggled to qualify, and did so by edging out Costa Rica in a playoff. Beating Spain again, or even gaining a point off the European champions, will be extremely tough, but Greece would be a good match-up for the Americans, while Uruguay would pose some attacking threats, but not as many as some other potential opponents such as Ivory Coast or Paraguay would have.
As for other groups, arguably the most hated group ever by Americans in a World Cup would be formed with France, Portugal, Mexico and Ghana squaring off in a real Group of Death (Okay, so maybe you don't hate Ghana, but the 2006 World Cup loss to Ghana is still fresh in the minds of many). Mexico has scored some relatively easy draws in the past few World Cups and the odds finally come around and land 'El Tri' in a loaded group. Then again, as bad as France looked in qualifying, and as much as Portugal struggled, Mexico could wind up winning this group.
Arguably the toughest of all Groups would be a group that is almost a replica of a 2006 World Cup group. Argentina, Netherlands and Ivory Coast were all grouped together in 2006, but now they add a Honduras squad that could cause some real problems to make up a truly brutal group. Throw in the fact that Ivory Coast is four years older and stronger than the 2006 version, and this group would be must-see TV.
As for the easiest groups? Paraguay would thank the stars if it could land a group consisting of South Africa, Switzerland and North Korea, while Germany wouldn't be too upset with a group including New Zealand and Algeria. Brazil could do much worse than its group, though a first-round date against Cameroon would be a can't-miss match.
Some other storylines? How about Giuseppe Rossi and Italy vs. Neven Subotic and Serbia in a battle of the USA turncoats? Australia vs. England would also be a heated affair. Switzerland vs. North Korea in a battle of political opposites?
What do you think of this draw? Like the U.S. team's chances to advance out of its group? Would you cry tears of joy of Mexico wound up in a group that tough? If you're an Irish-American, who do you root for in a France-Mexico match?
Share your thoughts below.