Ghana Black Stars
Even before the groups for the 2014 FIFA World Cup were selected, a wide variety of simulations had predicated that the Ghana Men?s National Team were going to have an uphill battle if they were to play more than three games in next summer?s tournament. One source has crunched the numbers and shown how difficult the journey will likely be for the Black Stars.
The Guardian utilized the FIFA rankings and the points that are associated with those rankings to determine the schedule difficulty for each team that qualified for the 2014 World Cup. According to that data, Australia has the harshest road toward making it out of the group stages. Ghana, who were placed in Group G along with the US, are the only other nation that have a more difficult group schedule than do the Americans.
Australia, the lowest-ranked nation to qualify (59), were grouped with Chile (15), Holland (9) and Spain (1). That group, Group B, has been labeled by some fans and analysts as the 2014 World Cup ?Group of Death.?
The numbers show, however, that Group G is technically the strongest via average number of points. Group G is 42 points ahead of Group B. Australia?s low ranking is what brings Group B down.
Fewer than 200 points separate Germany (2) from Portugal (5) in the latest FIFA rankings. The United States are at 14 overall. Ghana are at 24.
US Soccer supporters are well aware of how dangerous Ghana can be during this particular competition. Ghana knocked the US out of the World Cup in 2006 and in 2010. The US were defeated 4-1 by Ghana in the U-20 World Cup back in June 2013.
Sports remind fans that life is often not fair. The World Cup draw offered proof of this. Argentina, third overall in the latest FIFA world rankings, have the easier road to the knockout stages of the tournament. They were grouped with Bosnia-Herzegovina (21), Iran (45) and Nigeria (36).
Group H is statistically the easiest group. Belgium, at 11 overall and expected to step out of the shadows while on world football?s biggest stage, will have to deal with Russia (22), Algeria (26) and Korea (54). The Belgium squad is expected to win the group, and do so with relative ease.
The United States have two games in the top-seven of the ?Strength of Match? category. USA vs. Germany comes in at fourth, while the USA vs. Portugal contest is at seventh. Holland vs. Spain, a rematch of the 2010 World Cup Final, is at No. 1 in this category.
With the 2014 World Cup more than half a year away, these breakdowns and similar simulations are about all we have to examine this holiday season. The truth of the matter is that a lot can and will happen between now and next June, events that will affect how nations perform in that competition.
One thing you can bet on is that the United States will be underdogs to survive their group. The US did receive a bit of fortune in the scheduling of their first two contests. They will not play against Germany until the final match day of Group G.
Germany, perhaps in possession of the deepest squad in the world right now today, could have already qualified for the knockout stages by the time June 26 comes around.
There are only six months left of previews, predictions, brackets, and all that comes with waiting for the start of the World Cup. Santa Claus isn?t bringing June 12, 2014 and opening day of the tournament with him this Christmas. That?s OK, I suppose.
At least there?s FIFA 14.