World Cup draw, a.k.a. Les Bleus avance, Portugal screwed

So, the deed has been done, and the nattering has begun. The Final Draw for the 2010 World Cup has happened, and with this being a multi-national space, we all have favorites, thoughts and opinions, right? So let’s add to the Tower of Natter.

For me, it’s simple: <em>Les Bleus avance</em>! They’re in a group with the host nation, Mexico and Uruguay. The last will be the toughest team in that group, but I can’t see France not coming out of that.

The U.S. also got lucky. Hell, given the way England sometimes brain cramps, they could even win their group.

Portugal, however, for all of you Thong Boy fans, gets HOSED! In a group with Cote d’Ivoire, Brazil and Korea. Ouch! A for-real group of death.

So let’s discuss, but one request: They didn’t add a 33rd team, and we’ve been over all of the Henry stuff. So ….

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Written by:

In my fantasy life, I’m a Barca-crazed contributor over at Barcelona Football Blog. In my real life, I’m a full-time journalist at the Chicago Tribune, based in Chicago, Illinois.


  1. Khairallah
    December 4, 2009

    Spain will be having tough competition in the 2nd round.. either brasil cote d’ivoire or portugal.. Interesting

    • December 4, 2009

      I was excited for Spain’s draw, then realized quickly we will play those teams. uggghhh, it’s going to be tough to get to the final.

      • Eduard
        December 4, 2009

        I think it’s a good thing since we know the quality of those teams.

        • December 4, 2009

          yeah honestly, you want to show the world you can beat anybody, so it’s a good thing. but i’m going to be so f*cking nervous come june!

  2. December 4, 2009

    As I said on my blog, real groups of death are not with 3 very good teams, but with 4 good teams. That is, no freebies. By that measure, B (Argentina, Nigeria, South Korea, Greece) and D (Germany, Australia, Ghana, Serbia) are the actual groups of death.

    Portugal aren’t even a very good team. I’d be shocked if Brazil and Ivory Coast don’t waltz to the next round. Where Spain and/or Chile will be waiting. THAT is going to be awesome. Can you imagine a banana slip from Spain or Brazil, making them face each other in the round of 16?

    • Alix
      December 5, 2009

      I agree that Group B is more Group of Death than G is (despite all the ridiculous ESPN ratings and OMG! Brazil AND Portugal?!). Argentina, Nigeria, South Korea, and Greece, all seem to be on even footing and form at the moment. We can only see what June brings.

  3. Tim
    December 4, 2009

    Group G and H are actually on opposite sides of the bracket, so Spain and Brazil wouldn’t meet until the finals if they were to advance all the way.

    • Tim
      December 4, 2009

      Here’s the brakcet:


      • Tim
        December 4, 2009

        Ah, I misread some of what you said, I was going on the assumption that Brazil and Spain win their groups, having them meet in the Round of 16 would be crazy!

  4. December 4, 2009

    ..just so no on has to leave this esteemed space to check out the draw:

    Group A:
    South Africa

    Group B:
    South Korea

    Group C:

    Group D:

    Group E:

    Group F:
    New Zealand

    Group G:
    North Korea
    Cote d’Ivoire

    Group H:

  5. Eklavya
    December 4, 2009

    What happened to Banner design competition’s voting part? I thought the deadline was yesterday…maybe Isaiah’s having a day off with someone… *cough g/f cough* lol 😛

  6. Alex
    December 4, 2009

    Kxevin, did you ever go to bar Thomas?

  7. Colin
    December 4, 2009

    I’m looking forward to Spain-Chile. The most technical team in the world against the team with the funky formation.

    And France have a horseshoe jammed so far up their

  8. ElShowDeJason
    December 4, 2009

    Uruguay and Mexico will advance out of group A! sorry Kxev 😉

    • Miguel
      December 4, 2009

      yeah. i think mexico’ll give your france a run for their money. sorry kxev.

      • ElShowDeJason
        December 4, 2009

        a draw with france is all we need. we can definitely defeat South Africa and Uruguay.

        And i’m betting France don’t get 6 points out of them, not because they are not talented enough to beat anyone, but because of the Domench factor.

        • ElShowDeJason
          December 4, 2009

          “not because they are not talented enough to beat anyone”
          what I meant here, was that France, on their day beat any team in the world. But obviously they also have the capacity to suck at times.

        • Andrew M.
          December 5, 2009

          *ahem* i would not think mexico is just oging to beat south africa. SA very nearly beat spain and brazil in the confed cup. we also have home field advantage and i think mexico, who is prone to choking is going to suffer under the barrage of vuvuzelas and screaming support for SA. i think the mexicans are too confident here.

          then again i also agree that france wont make it.

          one more thing, dont rule out algeria. for two reasons, one, south africans will be supporting them like they were our own country (we will support all african nations this way) so it will be like a homefield advantage. second, they are really good and they are tough.

          i am not saying algeria and SA will make it through, but i just think you guys are ignorant and slightly to arrogant on behalf of your teams to assume that they will just go through like that.

          • Bruno D.
            December 6, 2009

            Well said. A friend claimed Mexico got lucky by drawing South Africa, and not one of the other seeded team. I was a bit taken aback and offended by this because of the great deal of respect and admiration I have for SA. The inaugural match is a guaranteed battle, SA is a tenacious team and will fight for every bit of possession. This is a dream match I have been hoping for since watching them in the confederations cup. That said Mexico are still a strong squad if admittedly unpredictable. I’m not sure about Uruguay but, and I don’t have too much confidence in France. The Mexicans are not overly confident, the group will be taken extremely seriously, its just that fans are prone to prediction hyperbole. Looking for Mexico and SA to advance.

          • ElShowDeJason
            December 6, 2009

            “A friend claimed Mexico got lucky by drawing South Africa, and not one of the other seeded team. I was a bit taken aback and offended”.

            South Africa isn’t as good as the seeded teams. (neither is mexico) don’t get offended.

            “…but i just think you guys are ignorant and slightly to arrogant on behalf of your teams to assume that they will just go through like that.”

            I never said Mexico is better than any of the teams in the group. Uruguay and France have better squads no doubt. Mexico has never played S.Africa. so i don’t know who is better. Besides, we weren’t happy that we got S.A. we were happy that we DIDN’T get one of the other 7 teams. Put yourselves in our shoes, and you’d agree.

            plus i said i doubted france would get 6 points out of Uruguay and SA. I never claimed France, Uruguay, or Mexico will absolutely get 3 from SA

            … ignorance and arrogance are strong accusations.

  9. Museum
    December 4, 2009

    just out of curiosity, how do some of you end up being big supporters of other national teams? i find it interesting that some “we’s” often get dropped in these conversations. myself, i lived in barcelona and first came to learn about and love the game over there, so i support spain in these competitions (and that’s how i got into barca too of course). but only to an extent, i’m american so i do cheer for the USA first. though i admit the confederations cup was just a little bit bittersweet because of the streak.

    no confrontational intent of course, i’m not trying to be all “SUPPORT YOUR COUNTRY, WHAT GIVES YOU THE RIGHT TO SUPPORT ANY OTHER??” just interested in hearing other people’s stories.

    • ElShowDeJason
      December 4, 2009

      1. Mexico
      My Mom is Mexican, and my Puertorican dad does not watch sports, so growing up any enthusiasm for soccer came from watching the Mexico National Team played.

      Also, my uncle was Mexico’s Head Coach during the 94 WC, which is the first I remember.

      2. Spain
      Just because I feel more culturally connected to Spain than to any other country. Plus, you have to root for at least one good team 🙂

      3. U.S.A.
      Well, I’m not a hardcore fan, but I have my U.S. Clint Dempsey Jersey for whenever they are not playing Mexcio or Spain. gotta show the country I live in some kind of love…

      • Kxevin
        December 4, 2009

        France. I’m American, but also a black American. I’ve never felt as comfortable being black in a place as I have in France.

        Thus began a love affair with a nation and a people, and supporting the national side seemed a natural extension of that affection. I guess that makes my support of Les Bleus somewhat political, but more rooted in my sense of self and comfort. My plan is to retire there, probably somewhere in the southwest, around Beziers. But that’s still some 20 years away, so who knows?

        • Ethan
          December 4, 2009

          Spain. Im american, southern californian born and bred, but my loyalties have been with spain ever since i have lived there back in 2005. My sister currently lives in Barcelona, dating a Catalan. So that doesnt hurt either, but i fell in love with spanish culture, especially Catalunya. The people, way of life, food, music, art, laid back approach appeal to me far more than the american way of life. I support Spain bc i want to retire and live there again one day, to spend the rest of my days drinking Cava and sangria, eating Tapas, Tortilla, Paella, playing futbol, enjoying life. Also, being an american and seeing the way other countries treat their own, makes you question how much america actually cares about its own people, or even the fact that most americans dont want to help anyone but themselves. These ideals, that other cultures, that have had much more time to mature and grow up is what makes supporting a country like Spain over My country. Plus the fact that i just can’t support our soccer team, i dont like our style of play, but more importantly, no one cares in America about “soccer” which is what really upsets me over the whole thing. Come June, you wont see a single person around a tv or waiving a flag in support of our team, ill be in europe, just like i was last world cup, roaming around the cities, seeing the passion, and love not just for the worlds sport, but more importantly, the pride and love for their country, the place they call home. The world cup is about supporting the team where your heart and soul lies, and for me, that is and will always be, Espana.

          • y2k156
            December 5, 2009

            Argentina. When i started watching football, Maradona was in his prime and hence the beginning of love affair. I am indian and india does not have a team to support. Hence Argies are my first choice.

          • December 6, 2009

            “no one cares in America about “soccer” which is what really upsets me over the whole thing. Come June, you wont see a single person around a tv or waiving a flag in support of our team, ill be in europe, just like i was last world cup, roaming around the cities, seeing the passion, and love not just for the worlds sport, but more importantly, the pride and love for their country, the place they call home.”

            Sigh…. After 10 years of hearing hear this escapist bulls**t arguement, I’m actually starting to love it. I’m sure you honestly believe it — you have a right to — so I’m not going try to argue what you or anyone else should believe. However, *I* believe that the essence of the American spirit is building something great in the face of adversity, doubt, and everyone in the world telling you your either too stupid, untalented, or unskilled to pull it off. You can move to you neighbor’s house or buy some fertilizer. Both ways you end up with a green lawn — but with the latter, you have the honest to god pride of knowing you built something from nothing. I take that approach to my country, and to our national team.
            Yeah, we may not have the best players, a famous coach, pedigree, or style of play. But what I can tell you is that there is a bar somewhere near your home and despite the fact that I’ve never been there, I can tell you what’s been happening there because it is the quintessential American soccer experience. Every Saturday you will find more and more people there at at an ungodly hour in the morning. At the outset it may look like we’re at odds with each other — especially with all the different jerseys, the arguing, the races and the socioeconomic disparity you see. But you come back to that same bar later that week and you will see the same group — with the same problems — cheering on our national team.
            10 years ago there were 5 of us. Now, we are flooding out the doors of the bar. Tommorrow we will flood the out the doors of a hundred bars across the country. I know this, because every day me, and others like are out there sharing our passion and building the American soccer community.
            It’s not easy. Actually, it sucks. Oftentimes, the worst I get isn’t even from “stereotypical” American soccer haters, but from another Cule, and that hurts. “Visca barça but fuck the USA .” That hurts to have to write now, much less hear originally. But you know what, I keep believing.

            When — not if — the US wins it’s first world cup, I doubt I’ll look back on that night with as much pride as I will looking back at the journey my country took to reach that point.

            This is my country.
            This is my team.
            This is passion.
            I would not trade it for anything.

            Visca Barça, and God bless the USA.

    • December 5, 2009

      I belong to a nation of over one billion people thats ranked 150th. Once in two years we have a tournament of teams ranked 140-170 which runs through a week. I go to all those matches and cry myself hoarse for India.
      But seven out of seven hundred days is too small a dose for a football junkie like me. If you love the game passionately, you can go through a match or two as a neutral – but not an entire tournament – more so one like the WC.
      I’ve loved Barca since 1999, when nobody here watched Spanish football, and people still couldn’t fathom why a Brazilian Rivaldo played in Spain and competed for the European Cup. And how he could go play in Italy the next year and then in Asia some years down the line. I was spellbound by Barca’s game and their philosophy and the intensity of cules during the Figo fiasco stapled the Barca emblem over my heart.
      Don’t we all have, in the hearts of our hearts, small favorites in each league – German Bundesliga, EPL, Serie A ?? How many football matches have you seen as a complete, unbiased neutral ?? At least I end up slightly favoring one side or the other, if only for that match.
      Museum, you’re lucky to be associated with countries that have an identity in the game you love. Suppose the game that connected to your heart was cricket, then in all probability, India would’ve been your favorite team.
      Its like parents and friends. You do not get to choose your parents and have to love them and support them. You have a footballing parent. Our case is like friends – we choose friends according to our preferences, likes and dislikes. And we support them and cheer for them. Comparing, or belittling, friend-love over parent-love would be childish.
      Your claiming that you can only cheer for “parents” and not for “friends” would be very typical of the US’ philosophy of – “We’re right, coz we always are.”
      No offence taken and none intended. Just that you touched a topic thats close to my heart, and i couldn’t hold myself from pouring my feelings.

      • December 5, 2009

        ahh, i forgot to mention.

        As an extension to Barca, the country I’ve always supported is Spain.

        (some paradox in that statement!)

        • eklavya
          December 5, 2009

          India, Spain and Switzerland.

          India: look above
          Spain: cause they play good beautifull football, and have tons of barca players.
          Switzerland: cause I live in switzerland, and its also fun to support the little country where you never have troubles…

          • eklavya
            December 5, 2009

            Forgot to mention Argentina, well at least before Maradona…

      • Museum
        December 5, 2009

        It’s funny, I had a friend over today to watch the draw and we were talking about how it’s strange that India doesn’t have more of a presence, and we weren’t sure why that is. There’s an enormous population and you’re a former colony of England, which invented the sport, and you obviously picked up cricket from them. I know in other notable former British colonies like Australia and NZ, other traditional English sports like cricket and rugby have always been more popular as well. I’m curious how that came to be.

        • eklavya
          December 5, 2009

          I don’t know about that but I find it VERY annoying that almost 97% of the people support one of the ‘big four’. Manchester mostly! Argh! Not all of course, but when I go back there my childhood friends are always talking England NT or the EPL…

  10. stowe
    December 5, 2009

    I think the USA would do great except for their inability to play without getting numerous cards. they will be missing one or two key players during their toughest games and it will cost them. anyone else agree with that?
    As for me, i’m american and thought soccer was boring until i started catching a few champions league games on espn, then the world cup happened and i was in jamaica and mexico during the summer and fell in love with the sport. started following arsenal because of Henry. and then 2 summers ago decided to cheer for spain because of Fabregas and their style. what a tournament. So Spain is my favorite team, more so now that i’ve started following Barca and reading this blog, but i will also cheer for America and even Mexico (since i’ve spent two summers living there). Brasil is fun to watch, too since they play so sexy.
    So next summer i will be cheering for USA and Spain (i hope they don’t play each other) and i will also be following brasil and enjoying their games.

    • December 6, 2009

      I don’t entirely agree. Discipline has been much better since confed cup, and Gooch, Demerit, and CD9 will be back by world cup unless something crazy happens. With the emergence of a strong right mid in Holden, even if Charlie isn’t in full form we can swing Dempsey up top.

      Don’t expect the US to be Barça, we likely never will be, but we are developing a effective counter-attacking style that can be fun, if not stressful, to watch.

      Honestly, our biggest problem is our reliance on Donovan to generate an attack. I expect every team we face to give him the Xavi treatment – how we respond will dictate our WC success.

  11. Vic
    December 5, 2009

    Espana then New Zealand 😛 my mother is from Aragon and catalunya, thus my two loyalties of spain and barcelona. My dad is kiwi so he tried swinging me more towards rugby and cricket but my heart was always with football because of my mum. 2002 world cup i remember i was preety young but my mum some how kindeled some sort of passion into my 7 year old heart 🙂 waking up with so much excitment every match day ill never forget nor my mother whos anti sport except wen spain or barca does well of course 😛 (still havent forgotten that ref in the quarter final either, that was a perfectly fine goal !!! WTF!! grr) its always been my mothers side of the family that influenced me so much about my countrys sporting pride (well the history barcas got not neccaserally spains achievements haha). In the same year i became a cule aswell lol i liked barca and madrid (i know forgive me, but i was young and there brain washing tactics of buying big name players was engrossing :P) i remember my uncle gave me a choice Barca or real, i said barca purely because if not my catalan grandad would of given me an ear full but i just seemed to connect with them better the colours players style it all attracted me more than madrid, and now i hate them 🙂 but being a spaniard you become used to dissapointment ( euro 2004, 2006 world cup) but its the colours and passion that i love about my country and i think this time (fingers crossed) well win it, beating brazil so i can show off to my brazilian step dad 😛 lol new zealands got no chance but that being said we could finish 3rd in our group, thing with all new zealand sports teams is that we will never give up and fight untill death we mite not have as much skill as others but we will fight, defantly if you can watch nz look for leo bertos(ronaldo wannabie) , shane smeltz and chris killen!! but i guess if they both fail theres always brazil 😛

  12. Museum
    December 5, 2009

    Really interesting stuff, thanks for sharing everybody. Interesting lives you guys lead. Ethan – traveling around Europe during the Cup? That is living the life, man. I lived in San Francisco in ’06 and you could hit up bars that catered to various countries that were playing, and that was great, but getting a rail pass and hitting the continent for the tournament sounds like my dream. I was in Venice for the 2000 Euro final between Italy and France, it was amazing to see the city shut down completely for it. Unfortunately I had yet to get into the sport like I later did, still a lot of fun though. And I agree with all those points comparing the two cultures, the laid back approach was really affecting to me when I spent my time in Barcelona.

    Kxevin – I think you take the gold medal for most interesting reasoning. Good luck on the retirement thing, that’s my dream too. Somewhere in Europe, I have a few preferences, but I’d take what I can get.

  13. Jose50
    December 5, 2009

    I am Dominican, and didn’t really grow up with football. We don’t take much interest in futbol as a nation (rather we love baseball, my other fascination), so I’ll probably never be able to cheer on my own country at the WC. Yet ever since I was little I would always support los hermanos latinoamericanos every four years when they played in the World Cup, be it Mexico, Costa Rica, Brazil, Argentina, etc. It’s always been the case, a perhaps naive sense of fraternity brought on by my futbol-crazy Mexican and Costa Rican childhood friends. By now it’s what I grew up with… 🙂

    Also, I’ll support Spain if there’s no American or African teams. I guess historic ties tug at me so.

  14. Vj
    December 5, 2009

    I will support Spain and Argentina because I want to! Beat that! 😀

  15. Eduard
    December 5, 2009

    1. Catalan National team, 2. Spain National team, 3. U.S.A. 4. Underdog

    • eklavya
      December 5, 2009

      Heh, i remember by father always used to support the undedog cause then its more fun if they win. As a young kid I didn’t know what ‘underdog’ meant so once I had asked him which team is underdog? Everyone had laughed at that hahaha

    • Alix
      December 5, 2009

      Catalan National team.
      I hate how they only have one match a year (sometimes two)!
      And this year I’m wondering how it’s going to work out with the Barcelona match the day before :/

      • stowe
        December 5, 2009

        if england and scotland and wales can all compete, why can’t barcelona have a more legit team? they would be really good, too. although i think spain would be a lot weaker. (i don’t really understand how different regions of a country compete anyways, to be honest)

  16. Falcon
    December 5, 2009

    I’m a kiwi living in Barcelona. Rugby is my first love, but Football
    is a close second…
    I was super excited as a kid when New Zealand made the world cup
    in the early eighties in Espana. This fueled my interest in football
    and I came to know about Barca. I moved here for the amazing lifestyle
    and a fantastic job but the icing on the cake was to be close to Barca.
    I love going to camp nou and I have many rabid Socis
    to sponge tickets off.
    My supreme support list is:
    All Blacks (superceed any sport)
    FC Barcelona
    NZ football team (All Whites)
    Espana (any team with Puyol, Xavi, Iniesta el al…, but would support
    a Catalan team first if they were to play)
    For some reason I have a soft spot for the English national team
    maybe it’s the tabloid drama, also my mothers family came from the UK.
    Next: the US team. I lived in NY for 5 years.
    Finally any team that plus positive attacking football
    5 years and hope they do well to build ‘Soccer’ in that country

    • Kxevin
      December 5, 2009

      I have a bone to pick with Falcon. LIVING IN BARCELONA??!! And you let me spend 10 days there without trying to hook up with a brotha? Damn, that’s cold. 😀

      Whereabouts do you live? We rented a place at Carrer Bailen, 98. Loved it. Away from everything, yet right by Arago, so we always had that point of reference, since my internal GPS sucks.

      There’s always next year, right?

      • Museum
        December 5, 2009

        I lived off Avinguda Meridiana, right by the Navas Metro station, which is just north of Clot. It’s nice to be somewhere out of the way, no tourists. If I ever lived there again I’d probably shoot for Gracia, I love that neighborhood.

        One great thing about where I was – the neighborhood bar. Like I said, I got into the sport while living there, because of this Swedish roommate I had who told me all about the teams, players, etc, and we’d go watch the Barca games at the bar. The whole neighborhood would come and just pack the place, they’d have a huge projector screen, and when we scored they’d play the Cant Del Barca on this ancient turntable at the bar, it was just incredible how crazy and electric it got. And this was winter 2004, Ronaldinho was really coming on, we had just signed Edgar Davids who I recognized because of his glasses, and all of a sudden we couldn’t lose after being down for a bit, so it was a particularly exciting time. One thing I absolutely have to do before I die – go watch a game at that bar again.

  17. Falcon
    December 5, 2009

    Awesome that NZ is at this world cup
    there are many better teams that will not be there, but this makes it a truley Global event

  18. Vic
    December 5, 2009

    wow falcon great to finally meet a kiwi on this sitee! 😛

  19. Kxevin
    December 5, 2009

    And thanks to Museum for not only kick starting some interesting discussion with the question about country support, but also reminding me why there is just no other space that I love as much as this one. Quality, quantity and intelligence are hard to argue with.

    Thanks, everyone.

    • stowe
      December 5, 2009

      yea, this place has been great, everyone is kind, intelligent and really positive about the team. I also read a blog about Arsenal on occasion and it’s so depressing to read. they are always bashing the players. maybe it’s because they have had some rough years compared to barca, but i feel that barca has a richer and deeper history and that fans know it’s about the style and character as well as winning. but i really enjoy reading and commenting here

  20. eklavya
    December 5, 2009

    Yeah, thanks for starting this interesting discussion Museum and thanks everyone for answering it!

    • Museum
      December 5, 2009

      Yeah, I’ve really enjoyed it too.

  21. Falcon
    December 5, 2009

    Kxevin, no offense amigo.
    For sure we should catch up next year.
    Hope you enjoyed the trip anyways…
    I live in the barrio Gotic, but my girl lives in Gracia,
    so I spend much time up there.
    Just started reading this blog not so long ago
    and I am impressed by the level of discussion.
    Vic, seeing your post encouraged me to post, thanks…
    On the All Whites… A friend went to the final qualification game in
    Wellington and said the crowd was just amazing, everyone
    was going nuts when the game ended. The whole city was at a
    Not bad for a rugby mad country.

    • Kxevin
      December 5, 2009

      Had a great time, and would have even without the Inter and Clasico matches, which just moved the time that I had to a land beyond good.

      Next year, for sure, because I’m back in August, for the Gamper, and then for the Clasic again. I’ll probably also be driving over for some matches during my September cycling vacation in southern France.

      • eklavya
        December 5, 2009

        Toulouse by any chance? I’m going there for the coming winter holidays.

  22. January 28, 2010

    I was scanning something else about this on another blog. Interesting. Your position on it is diametrically opposed to what I read earlier. I am still contemplating over the different points of view, but I’m tipped to a great extent toward yours. And irrespective, that’s what is so good about contemporary democracy and the marketplace of ideas on-line.

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