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Looking forward to the World Cup draw
THE draw for next summer’s World Cup takes place in Brazil later today, amid all of the usual FIFA fanfare.
Expect a marathon of speeches, translated into numerous languages, leading up to the draw, which I always find both intriguing and tense.
There is an extra element added to this draw. It seems a lot of managers, including England’s Roy Hodgson, are just as worried about where they will play games as who they will come up against.
Brazil is a massive country, something several countries will find out as they fly thousands of miles over the course of the tournament, but perhaps an even bigger concern may be the climate.
The weather won’t be a problem in the south of the country, but a couple of the venues are in the tropical north, where the heat, especially for games that kick-off at 1pm to suit European television schedules, will be a massive issue.
It’s a situation that could bring about some freak results, with teams from counties like Ecuador, Costa Rica and Honduras, who are more used to the conditions, handed an advantage over European sides.
From this point of view, England will be desperate to avoid Group G, which would see them play three games in the tropics, all in the stifling heat of the afternoon. However, they will be quite happy to be drawn in Group B or Group H, as teams in those groups will play their games in the south.
When it comes to the teams England will face, things are still a bit up in the air as the pots will not be finalised until the start of the draw.
I do have to question a seeding system that has Switzerland and Columbia in the top pot, ahead of Holland and Italy, but hey, that’s FIFA.
The possibilities are nearly endless but there could be some nightmare draws. For instance, England could end up alongside Brazil, Holland and the USA.
However, it could also be much kinder. Imagine England being drawn out alongside Switzerland, Algeria and Honduras, or Columbia, Bosnia and Costa Rica.
Whatever happens this afternoon, if previous World Cups have taught us anything it is not to get carried away with the draw, England were pulled out in the so called ‘group of death’ in 2002, coming up against Argentina, Sweden and Nigeria, but they didn’t lose a game and qualified pretty comfortably.
However, think back four years and England were drawn against Slovenia, Algeria and the USA. You couldn’t have dreamed up a much easier draw but Fabio Capello’s men just about limped through, finishing behind America and meeting Germany in the second round as a result.
We all know how that one ended up.
The bad thing about FIFA events is that we are subjected to the latest ramblings from the likes of Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini.
UEFA president Platini has been on his soapbox this week, proposing ice hockey-style sin-bins for players who get a yellow card.
What a terrible idea.
With the number of yellow cards that are handed out these days, often for ridiculous offences such as over-celebrating, sides would rarely have a full complement of players.
It works in ice hockey because that is a six-a-side game. Going to the sin-bin gives the opposition a very real chance of scoring.
Playing 11v10 in football is not such a big advantage. All it would lead to is 10 minutes of dull, defensive football from one side, spoiling the overall rhythm of the game.
Follow the draw as it happens at basingstokegazette.co.uk/sport from 4pm this afternoon.
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