England's Hell: Italy and Brazil

Daily Mail (London), December 4, 2013 | Go to article overview

England's Hell: Italy and Brazil


Byline: CHARLES SALE reports from Costa do Sauipe

ENGLAND'S chances of being drawn in a World Cup 'group of death' on Friday have increased dramatically after the latest power play by UEFA president Michel Platini.

France, as the lowest ranked European side, had been expected to balance up the four pots of eight by taking the last place in Pot 2 with the African countries and nonseeded South Americans. Instead, a summit of the six FIFA confederation chiefs, of whom Frenchman Platini is the most influential, decided that a draw involving all nine non-seeded Euro countries should determine which team relocates from Pot 4. FIFA president Sepp Blatter said: 'The draw is a draw and that is why we have to have it. Let us not pick teams and assign them.' In addition, the draw has been tweaked to ensure that one of the four South American seeds -- Brazil, Argentina, Colombia and Uruguay -- will be in the same group as the European team that is moved into Pot 2. The consequence for Roy Hodgson is that England are now more likely to face a nightmare scenario of being drawn against one of the top seeds in Brazil and Argentina as well as one of the unseeded Euro superpowers in Italy or Holland.

And, even the weakest group on paper -- Pot 3 -- could present a challenge to England with the likes of the United States, Mexico or Japan, who beat fancied Belgium last month, potentially tricky opponents.

The worst draw for England would be a group including Brazil, Italy and the United States, but a draw against Argentina, Holland and Japan would be almost as difficult. Another uncanny possibility that could emerge from the ceremony, WHICHWILLINVOLVEENGLAND WorldCupwinner Geoff Hurst, would see the English facing the same group opponents as they did in 1966 in Uruguay, France and Mexico. But that would be a much more favourable outcome than the other possibilities. …

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