Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Group of death

Every time the World Cup rolls around, it seems there is one group where 3 or sometimes even 4 very strong teams have been drawn together. For WC2006 in Germany, I don't see there being any particular group of death, but no doubt some are stronger than others. Back when the groups came out, I made a post on another blog regarding the draw for the group stages, and remarked upon the apparent strength of Group E, based on the FIFA rankings. I put a little more work into it and came up with the following table, based on FIFA's rankings, and the where teams rank in an average of 4 rankings systems.


FIFA Aggregated

Group A
Germany 16 11
Costa Rica 21 28
Poland 22 20
Ecuador 37 32
Total weight 96 91

Group B
England 9 5
Paraguay 30 23
Trinidad & Tobago 50 56
Sweden 14 10
Total weight 103 94

Group C
Argentina 4 6
Cote d'Ivoire 42 42
Serbia & Montenegro 47 26
Netherlands 3 2
Total weight 96 76

Group D
Mexico 5 14
Iran 19 24
Angola 61 63
Portugal 10 8
Total weight 95 109

Group E
Italy 12 9
Ghana 50 57
USA 8 16
Czech Republic 2 3
Total weight 72 85

Group F
Brazil 1 1
Croatia 20 15
Australia 48 37
Japan 15 17
Total weight 84 70

Group G
France 5 4
Switzerland 35 27
South Korea 29 44
Togo 56 58
Total weight 125 133

Group H
Spain 5 7
Ukraine 40 29
Tunisia 28 35
Saudi Arabia 33 48
Total weight 106 119













Using the FIFA rankings, the groups ranked from strongest to easiest are: E (72), F (85), D (95), A and C (tied with 96), B (103), H (106) and G (125). The combo-rank gives a different order: F (70), C (76), E (84), A (91), B (94), D (109), H (119) and G (133). All of a sudden, my boys (that is, the Dutch, in Group C) don't seem to have such a cushy group. Perhaps because FIFA, whose rankings factor in a team's performance over 8 years, undervalue up-and-coming teams like Serbia and Montenegro (47th) in comparison with the other three ranking systems examined (24th, 19th, 18th). Group D ranks much weaker by the 2nd method because the historical performances of a team like Mexico are given far more weight by FIFA (5th) than the rest (16th, 20th, 16th).

Still, I stand by my quick picks to advance: Germany and Poland (Group A), England and Paraguay (B), Argentina and the Netherlands (C), Mexico and Portugal (D), Italy and the Czech Republic (E), Brazil and Japan (F), France and Switzerland (G) and Spain and Tunisia (H).

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