It was tedious but it was also relatively brief. Another FIFA/UEFA ball drawing spectacle survived and we managed to find out which country was in which group and what position in said group before the shiny-skulled host started felating himself on stage. It wasn’t far away from happening.
Some groups look tougher than others but at this level there are no easy groups. Except maybe Group A. France will be happy with that one.
Before brushing over each group let us not forget that 16 out of 24 teams progress to the knockout stages. That’s 66.66% of all teams. In four of the six groups three of the four teams will go through. Which seems an almost farcical way to do things but then this is mini-FIFA and it does mean a better chance of Ireland and Northern Ireland progressing. Wales and England find themselves more favourably placed in Group B.
After all that qualifying and drawing of infinite balls what we end up with is the Group of Meh, otherwise known as Group A, containing France and some other teams.
- France to win Group A:
Two home nations, England and Wales, in Group B with Russia and Slovakia, a country which copied Russia’s flag. Slovakian and Russian fans will casually comment that Wales and England are practically the same country, Welsh and England fans will do likewise. Don’t bring up sexuality or sheep and everyone will get along fine.
- England to win Group B:
- Wales to qualify from Group B:
This could get messy, especially if Northern Ireland refuse to play ball, so to speak. Their southern neighbours beat Germany in the group stages, Michael O’Neill will believe he can do the same. Poland will need Lewandowski on form and Ukraine will probably flop. Just a feeling. With third place likely being good enough Northern Ireland will be optimistic.
- Germany to win group C:
- Northern Ireland to qualify from Group C:
Spain aren’t the exciting spectacle they once were but if they don’t make it out of Group D they might consider taking some time out to get their sh*t together. Czech Republic, Turkey and Croatia are all decent teams but little omre than decent.
- Spain to win Group D:
This is being called the group of death by some, if we were being historically accurate that moniker would fall on Group C but we won’t go there. Yes this is a tough group for Ireland but then aren’t they all? Can you remember the last time Ireland had an easy time in a group of any kind? Ireland could make an easy group tricky. Sweden, Belgium and Italy are all good teams but they’re hardly powerhouses right now. Shut down a couple of creative players and they can be nullified like anyone else.
Plus Zlatan against Walters? Who isn’t getting mildly aroused at the thought of that one?
- Ireland to qualify from Group E:
The last group, Group F, may not be the least but it’s not far off. There’ll be Ronaldo carrying Portugal on his shoulders against Iceland, Austria and Hungary. It would be highly insulting to flippantly downgrade these countries to the status of filler so….
- Portugal to win the group: