Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The World Cup Draw Inverse Wish List

Below is a list of all 31 teams the United States can face in the World Cup in order of how difficult a matchup each opponent would be. The rankings account for individual matchups, style of play, the tournament's location, U.S. history against the opponent and overall quality.

Blue teams are seeded teams in Pot 1.
Red teams come from Pot 2.
Green teams are Pot 3 teams.
And Grey teams are Pot 4 sides, which the U.S. can't face until the knockouts.   

Based on this pecking order, I've put together a best, worst and median difficulty scenarios. The latter just takes the fourth-best team from each pot and places them in the U.S. group.

Group of Near-Certain Doom: Germany, Netherlands, Ghana
Group of 'Wow, really? Thanks again FIFA': Switzerland, Greece, Algeria 
Group of Median Difficulty: Belgium, Ivory Coast, Croatia
1. Brazil
2. Germany
3. Spain
4. Netherlands
5. Belgium
6. Argentina
7. France
8. Ghana
9. Portugal
10.  Colombia
11. Italy
12. Uruguay
13. Chile
14. Croatia
15. Bosnia-Herzegovina
16. Switzerland
17. Japan
18. Russia
19. England
20. South Korea

21. Ivory Coast
22. Nigeria
23. Greece
24. Ecuador
25. Cameroon
26. Costa Rica
27. Mexico
28. Honduras
29. Australia
30. Algeria
31. Iran

- Jacob Klinger


brian said...

obviously we cannot play ourselves, but where do you fit USA in on that list?

jon said...

That's probably kind of tough because of all the factors Jacob took into account when compiling this list. But it does raise a very interesting question. What team is most similar to the US in terms of style and skill? (regardless of whether this team has qualified for the World Cup or not)

Unknown said...

@Brian Sorry, I sent a reply earlier. Guess my phone didn't like it. But while jon's right, I had us at No. 15 - just really likely to get two teams higher than that.

@jon That's even tougher, just because of how inconsistent the team can be. I still think Germany Lite is a decent way to describe it.

It's funny how each national team has somewhat evolved in parallel with Germany snapping out of its "Teutonic" style into the still disciplined but more explosive juggernaut it is now. The U.S. went through a stage, where the old-school grinding style was the M.O. and that's probably still the fallback, but not coincidentally, Klinsmann's loosened things up a little.