Wednesday, December 07, 2005

How will the World Cup draw work? Update

Last Thursday I speculated on the way this year's World Cup draw would work. I had to guess at the way the pots would be allotted, but now that we know exactly what pots hold what teams, I want to update it.

The biggest rule to remember about the draw is that no teams from the same confederation can be in the same group, except for teams from Europe who are allowed, at most, 2 teams per group.

So how will this draw work? There are four pots (actually five, but I'll get to that in a moment). The teams in Pot One are the seeded team. FIFA has decided that these teams are Germany, Brazil, Argentina, England, France, Italy, Mexico and Spain.

Germany has already been placed into Group A and Brazil has already been placed into Group F. The other six teams will then be drawn into the other six groups. This will be done in one of two ways.

Either they will go alphabetically and do a blind draw for Group B, C, D, etc. or they will have a second pot containing the remaining group names. If they do the latter, it would go something like this. They will reach into Pot One and pull a name (like England) and then reach into the other pot containing group names (Group E). Either way, these eight seeded teams will get the first spot in each of the 8 groups.

They will then move on to Pot Two. The teams in this pot are Australia, Angola, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Togo, Tunisia, Ecuador and Paraguay.

The first thing to notice is that there are 2 South American teams in this pot. These 2 teams cannot end up in the same group as Brazil or Argentina. The other 6 teams in this pot can end up in any group since they are from confederations without seeded teams. Chances are they will bring back the pot that contains the names of the groups. They will remove the group names that contain Brazil and Argentina. They will then only place the 2 South American teams into the pot. They will pull out a team from Pot Two and a group name from the other pot. Once they have placed these 2 teams, the will return the name of Brazil's and Argentina's group to the group pot. They will then draw the other 6 teams from Pot Two into the remaining 6 groups.

At this point, all eight groups will have 2 teams.

Then comes Pot Three. This is the European pot. The teams in this pot are Croatia, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland and Ukraine.

Since each group is allowed up to 2 European teams in it, there are no rules limiting which group will get which teams from this pot. So they will do a straight blind draw. Again, they might just go through the groups alphabetically or they may use the team pot and the group pot. Either way, each group will get a team from this pot.

Now all eight groups will have 3 teams and five of the groups will have 2 European teams.

This brings us to the "special pot." This pot contains just one country’s name, Serbia & Montenegro. Since groups can only have a maximum of 2 European sides in them, Serbia & Montenegro will have to end up in a group that does not have a seeded European team. This means they will be in a group with either Brazil, Argentina or Mexico. They will place Serbia & Montenegro into one pot and the three group names into a second pot. They will then draw Serbia & Montenegro out of the special pot and a group name out of the group pot.

At this point, seven groups will have 3 teams while one group (either Brazil, Argentina or Mexico's group) will have 4 teams.

That brings us to our final pot. Pot Four contains Iran, Japan, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Costa Rica, Trinidad & Tobago and USA.

There are two ways this draw could go. If Serbia & Montenegro draw into Mexico's group, then there are no restrictions on where the 7 teams from Pot Four can go. This would allow a full blind draw with all 7 teams placed into the pot and the remaining seven group names will be placed in the group pot. They will then draw a team and a group name till the remaining seven groups are filled.

However, if Serbia & Montenegro draw into Brazil or Argentina's group, the restriction of two teams from the same confederation comes into play. Costa Rica, Trinidad & Tobago and USA cannot draw into Mexico's group so there will need to be a limited draw of these three teams. They will place these 3 into Pot Four while the six possible group names will be placed into the group pot. They will then draw a team and a group.

Once these 3 teams have been drawn into groups, they will add the other 4 teams to Pot Four. They will also add Mexico's group name to the group pot. They will then draw the remaining 4 teams into the remaining 4 groups.

At this point, all 8 groups will have 4 teams. The World Cup will the be set.

So does that make sense?

I'm happy to say that in my post from a week ago I got most of the pots correct. I even guessed that there was a chance that COCACAF might end up in the same pot as the Asian Confederation. However, I thought that would be the third pot instead of the fourth. Still, happy for me.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I spent the last 20 minutes surfing the world cup site hoping for an glad I googled it instead...thank a lot....that was a great explanation


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8:03 PM  
Blogger Mike H said...


I was shocked at how little information FIFA has on their website about the draw. Part of that might be due to soccer politics, but it really is a shame. People want to know how this thing is going work and they don't want to tell.

Anyway, I'm glad you got something out of the post and thanks for the kind words.

10:33 AM  
Blogger BUBBABOB said...

Thank you for this explanation (as well as how the World Cup works). I'm a big sports fan (American football, basketball, baseball, etc.) and just recently got interested in soccer. It's an amazing game! I've been watching the World Cup but did not know too much about how the points worked and why specific teams played each other. The 2 blogs I've read of yours have done wonders!!! THANKS!!!

1:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Top Shelf stuff Michael

Any idea how 2010 draw is going to work?

I'm from Australia and with us moving to 16th in the world I was hoping that could help our draw, but if the draw is like this than maybe not.

Lets all hope we get South Africa's group...



8:35 PM  
Anonymous surfvoucher said...

Thank you sooo much for this post! I've tried to understand how the draw was going to work and on the fifa official site there is nothing on it! I really appreciate the time you spent writing this!

12:43 AM  
Anonymous CJ said...

Thanks for the post. Just a quick question, why are teams like, England, Germany and France seeded ahead of Portugal and Netherlands even though Portugal and Netherlands are ranked higher than the others?
Its the only bit i dont understand, but thank you for you time.

7:37 AM  
Blogger JBagley said...

You said Germany are alreay in Group A - don't you mean South Africa?

6:31 AM  
Blogger JBagley said...

Apologies! I see that this post is from 2005. :)

6:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

good job!

10:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks alot! very helpful. I'm with CJ, how do they come up with the seed teams, you would think it would follow the rankings.

9:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yep, 2005, I bet the seed teams matched the rankings better then ;)

9:22 PM  
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