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30 July, 2011

Preliminary Draw for World Cup 2014 Qualifying

A number of surprises at today's draw for the preliminary rounds of the 2014 World Cup. See the entire worldwide draw here. The big headline is that Spain and France were drawn into the same group, where the top team qualifies, along with the best second place team of the nine groups. The other eight second place teams pair off and play a home-and-home for the last four of Europe's 14 qualifying spots. Third place is out of luck. Now, Spain and France will not be as close as people think. Spain will kick some French derriere in Group I. However, I find it much more interesting that Serbia and Croatia are drawn into the same group. Talk about an intense rivalry!

Group B appears to be equally intense, featuring Italy, Denmark, and the Czech Republic, but if there is a Group of Death, it is Group C featuring Germany, Sweden, Ireland, and Austria. The Netherlands and England seem to have relatively easy draws, with Holland's competition in Group D coming from Turkey and Romania, while England must beat Ukraine and Poland in Group H. The weakest groups are group E (Norway, Switzerland, and Slovenia), Group F (Portugal and Russia), and Group G (Greece and Slovakia).

In CONCACAF, the United States and Jamaica are automatically in the third round (along with Mexico, Costa Rica, Honduras, and Cuba.) USA and Jamaica will most likely be joined by Guatemala and Haiti in third round Group A. Mexico and Costa Rica will probably compete with El Salvador and Trinidad and Tobago in Group B, while Honduras and Cuba will face Panama and Canada in Group C, if nothing unusual happens. USA got a soft draw, in my opinion, and Panama got lucky to be drawn in the same bracket as Honduras and Cuba, both of whom can be beaten by Los Canaleros.

Photo: FIFA

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