Looking for this World Cup’s ‘Group of Death’? It doesn’t exist anymore. Here’s why…

Whenever the draw for the World Cup is over, A “death squad” is looking for an immediate task.

But the boring answer is generally none these days. Changes in the structure of the tournament make it less likely that the four true contestants will be grouped together.

But this World Cup is a bit of an exception. Why, here’s a brief history of how the death squad slowly faded away.

There are three factors at play. The first is the expansion of competition.

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The term “group of death” was first used in 1970 when there were only 16 teams in the tournament. (There will be 24 teams from 1982, 32 teams from 1998, and 48 teams from 2026.)

As a result, the quality decreases. For this competition, If 50 percent of both sides take place when the “Group of Death” concept is first established, they will not qualify for the tournament.

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The number of contestants for each World Cup is likely to be the same. About eight to 10 with a real chance of winning the tournament. Once it was divided into four groups, then into six groups, and now into eight groups. The probability of getting two—or even three—in the same group gradually decreases.

The second is the spread across different federations. This is not the same as expanding competition.

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Historically, The World Cup’s true contenders are drawn almost exclusively from Europe and South America.

No African country has ever reached the semi-finals. No team from Oceania has ever reached the quarterfinals. Only one Asian team has ever reached the semi-finals – South Korea at home in 2002. Only one North American team has ever reached the semifinals, the United States in 1930.

Bobby Charlton


England’s Bobby Charlton battles Brazil’s Clodoaldo in the original ‘Group of Death’ in 1970 (Photo: Syndication/Mirrorpix via Getty Images)

For each tournament, the South American quota increases roughly in line with the number of countries, but the European quota does not.

Nations in the UEFA World Cup

Competition UEFA nation

1930

31%

1934

75%

1938

87%

1950

62%

1954

75%

1958

69%

1962

63%

1966

63%

1970

56%

1974

56%

1978

62%

1982

58%

1986

58%

1990

58%

1994

54%

1998

47%

2002

47%

2006

44%

2010

41%

2014

41%

Year 2018

44%

2022

41%

FIFA prioritizes regional representation over actual quality. This is after a Earth Father? But that means the overall quality is lacking. This means that Italy will not qualify when Saudi Arabia and Tunisia compete. It’s perfectly fair; But it also stands to reason that the reigning European champions would be more obvious candidates for a potential group of death.

Indeed, The deadliest group in a major tournament came at Euro 96, not at the World Cup. Germany (second in the world); Russia (third); It also produced two finalists, Italy (7) and the Czech Republic (10).

The third and most relevant factor is the seed system.

Let’s go back to the first group of deaths in the 1970s. It is no coincidence that the 1970 World Cup produced that group of death rather than 1962 or 1966. The draw for those two contests was the result. However, before 1970, there was no consensus on the seeding process. The lottery was opened.

the result? The last two winners of the tournament, England and Brazil, were drawn in the same group, along with 1962 runners-up Czechoslovakia. Romania lost to Czechoslovakia and suffered single-goal losses to England and Brazil, but they could not be relegated despite having little to fear about their reputation. FIFA is determined not to let this happen again and has already settled every tie.

The seeds vary, but Pot 1 is a system that includes the strongest sides based on world ranking and puts everyone else into purely geographic pots (rather than further seeding based on ranking).

Therefore, despite being ranked among 16 countries in the tournament, one top team; European team A strong South American team and an African team could be included, but only one top team from each group.

The system was used until 2014. From 2018, things have changed. The draw is now entirely seeded, and pots are determined by world ranking, not geography.

This means that the deadliest group for the 2018 World Cup has seen significantly fewer deaths than in previous years. In fact, The third strongest team in the most lethal group has been weaker than the fourth strongest team from the most lethal groups in previous tournaments, according to the world rankings.

Group 1 Group 2 Group 3 Group 4

1998

Germany (1);

England (6);

Colombia (9);

Mexico (11);

2002

Spain (1);

Mexico (9);

England (10);

Paraguay (14);

2006

Brazil (1);

USA (9);

Netherlands (10);

Paraguay (15);

2010

Brazil (1);

France (9);

USA (10);

Cameron (14);

2014

Spain (1);

Netherlands (8);

Chile (12);

USA (13);

Year 2018

Germany (1);

Spain (8);

Costa Rica (22);

Nigeria (41);

2022

Brazil (1);

Mexico (9);

Senegal (20);

Wales (18*)

But the 2022 World Cup has further complications — indicated by an asterisk.

With some qualifiers delayed by the pandemic – Ukraine’s play-offs against Scotland and Wales delayed by the war – the draw for the 2022 World Cup was a draw before the three teams had yet to play in the play-offs. Coincidences. Therefore, those play-off clubs are included in Pot 4 regardless of their rankings.

This is particularly relevant in the case of Wales, who beat Ukraine to take their place. Wales’ 18th place prior to the draw would have seen them join Pot 2 if not for 51st-ranked hosts Qatar, from Old Trafford (Pot 3). . Instead, they were in Pot 4.

So the Wales group will be tougher than FIFA predicts. They are England (ranked 5); United States (15); drawn with Iran (21). Compared to 1970, for example, it was not as deadly as it was. It is stronger than it was four years ago. This does not take into account the rivalry between England and Wales and the tension between the US and Iran.

Do you think it’s a group death? But the expansion to a 48-team World Cup from 2026, combined with the increased geographic spread, makes it likely to be more lethal than any World Cup group we’ll see.

FIFA plans to draw the 48-team tournament using 16 groups, with both teams advancing to the knockout stages. This has two implications for mortality risk groups.

First, The tournament features the world’s 48 highest-ranked teams, with each group featuring a side ranked 33rd or lower, assuming the draw is made throughout (highly unlikely). In all probability, Once you account for the quota from each confederation, the average ranking of Pot 3 sides is more likely to be in the 50s or 60s.

Secondly, When two of the three sides from each group make progress. Things are less deadly. A 67 percent growth rate doesn’t feel too risky. In 2026, The concept of the group of death will surely die.

(Photo by Marcio Machado/Eurasia Sports Images/Getty Images)



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