The pots for Friday's World Cup draw are out. The surprise is that October's FIFA rankings were used as the basis for seeding teams in Pot A, instead of the previous formula, a complicated metric based largely on performances in previous World Cups.
For my boys*, the Netherlands, this is great news, since while they consistently fail to perform on the big stage, the Oranje also have maintained a consistently high FIFA rank over the last few years.
Pot 1: South Africa, Brazil, Spain, Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Argentina, and England.
Pot 2: Australia, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, New Zealand, Honduras, Mexico and USA.
Pot 3: Algeria, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay.
Pot 4: Denmark, France, Greece, Portugal, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia and Switzerland.
I hacked together a quick python script to simulate a random drawing. With Netherlands in pot 1 instead of the European pot 4, the likelihood of a true "Group of Death" is diminished.
Upon first electronic drawing:
Group A: South Africa , USA , Paraguay, Slovakia
Group B: Brazil , Japan , Nigeria , Greece
Group C: Spain , New Zealand , Algeria , Portugal
Group D: Netherlands , Mexico , Uruguay , Serbia
Group E: Italy , South Korea , Chile , France
Group F: Germany , North Korea , Cameroon , Denmark
Group G: Argentina , Australia , Ivory Coast , Slovenia
Group H: England , Honduras , Ghana, Switzerland
To be honest, there aren't too many groups where it would be tough to pick out the top 2. I'm sure our southern neighbours would be thrilled with this draw.
In case you were wondering, the worst possible group, by FIFA ranking:
South Africa (86), New Zealand (77), Paraguay (30), Slovakia (34)We'll see what we get on Friday.