Monday, March 3, 2008

Most Deathly Group Of Death Ever?

The draw for Euro 2008 was made a few months back while I was in blogger timeout, but I've been wondering ever since the day it was made if its group of death is the group of deathy-est group of death of all time.

The 16 teams that qualified were seeded for the draw, but the quirk of automatically awarding the defending champions as well as the hosts a 1 seed, that meant that 3 of the 4 #1 seeds were relatively weak Greece {Euro2004 champions}, Switzerland {co-hosts, average team}, and Austria{co-hosts, very bad team}. This meant that the other #1 seed was likely to get a terribly tough draw, with the other "real" 1 seeds bumped down to lower levels.

And they did. Here's Group C:

Holland
Italy
France
Romania

Wow. That group is crazy. You have Holland, one of the top teams in Europe. Their "reward" for qualifying as a #1 seed?

First up is Italy, current World Cup champions, followed by France, winners of World Cup 1998, Euro 2000, semifinalists at Euro2004, and lost the World Cup final in 2006 on penalties. Yes, Zidane is gone but they are still tres formidable. The "weakest" team of the group? Romania won their qualifying group easily, besting Holland in the process, and their only defeat in qualifying was 0-1 away to Bulgaria in the second to last group after they had already clinched qualification as undefeated group winners. Translated: Romania ain't no joke.

So is this the Group Of Death of Group Of Deaths? Do you remember anything rivaling this? The closest I can remember is World Cup 2002, which had Argentina, England, Nigeria, and Sweden, but I think on paper this beats it. Of course, my memory doesn't go back prior to World Cup 1990.

All I know is that two really good teams will not be advancing to the knockout stage this summer. Which two are anyone's guess.

The full slate, if you are wondering:

Group A
Switzerland
Czech Republic
Portugal
Turkey

Group B
Austria
Croatia
Germany
Poland

Group C
Holland
Italy
France
Romania

Group D
Greece
Sweden
Spain
Russia

The tournament starts 3 months from Friday.

2 comments:

Moin said...

Back when they had Second Round Groups instead of Knockout Rounds, there were some pretty nasty groups.

In 1974, there was a Group consisting of Netherlands of Cruyff, Brazil, Argentina, and East Germany (which beat eventual Champion West Germany earlier in the tourney).

In 1978, another group of Netherland, Italy, West Germany, and Austria (much stronger then than it is now).

In 1982, when FIFA went crazy with groups of 3's for the 2nd round, there was a group of West Germany, England, and Spain and another group of Italy, Brazil, and Argentina.

Of course, these are all Second Round groups, nothing like the first round groups that you are talking about. But it does happen more often in the Euros. In 2000, the last time they had joint hosts, there was a group of Germany, England, Portugal, and Romania (though it turned out both Germany and England were on a downer there) and another group of France, Netherland, Czech Rep., and Denmark.

Kanu said...

Thanks Moin- as usual, you are a master of soccer wonk- respek.

I forgot about that Euro2000 group- that was pretty nutty as well, but on paper the credentials of those teams still don't match up to these. I still remember listening to those games on internet radio- Figo making Arsenal duo Adams/Seaman look silly, and the Brit commentator literally going insane wjen England scored against Germany {I mean like Hand Of God announcer dude crazy}.