US, England get favorable World Cup draw; Brazil, Portugal, Ivory Coast in ‘Group of Death’

FIFA released the 2010 World Cup draw Dec. 4 and there was one huge surprise — Group G with Brazil, Ivory Coast, Portugal and North Korea.

No, North Korea isn’t the surprise there. Three uberstars — that’s right, uberstars, not superstars — are in that group: Brazil’s Kaka, Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Ivory Coast’s Didier Drogba.

Sadly, one of those three players will not be playing in the Round of 16. And what a shame that would be.

This is the group to watch throughout the round-robin. Presumably, Brazil, Ivory Coast and Portugal have an automatic win in North Korea. The other matchups, however, will be rock fights and will come down to play in the defensive end.

US, England first match of second day
With Group G as loaded as it is, other groups aren’t really as up in the air. Group C is one of them.

Comprised of Algeria, England, Slovenia and the United Sates, Group C is fairly balanced. While most see that group and immediately say U.S. and England will advance from that group, if either England or the U.S. sleeps on Slovenia, they will see themselves watching the Round of 16, and beyond, from home.

The U.S. and England will square off 2:30 p.m. June 12. Fans from the respective countries have already circled that date as one to pay close attention to.

Other Groups
Group A has host South Africa, Mexico, Uruguay and France. Group B has South Korea, Argentina, Nigeria and Greece. Group D has Germany, Australia, Serbia and Ghana. Group E has Netherlands, Denmark, Japan and Cameroon. Group F has Italy, Paraguay, New Zealand and Slovakia. And Group H has Honduras, Chile, Spain and Switzerland.

Round of 16 Schedule
After group play, first place in A will face Group B No. 2, while Group B No. 1 will face Group A No. 2. Similarly, C-D, E-F and G-H face off.

If you were following along, that means Spain, the favorite to win Group H, will face off against either Brazil, Portugal or Ivory Coast. What a way to kick off the Round of 16 for that bracket.

Early, and I do mean early, predictions
A lot can happen from now until final rosters are set before June 11, but let’s do a little Group Round projections in their order.

Group A — Mexico and France; Group B — Argentina and Nigeria; Group C — Germany and Ghana; Group D — England and U.S. Group E — Netherlands and Cameroon; Group F — Italy and Paraguay; Group G — Brazil and Portugal; Group H — Spain and Honduras.

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