World Cup Draw: Pot 3
The highest ranked of the three Scandinavian teams in the competition (all of which are in Pot 3) is Denmark. Although they were hit and miss so far in the qualifications with a slow start, they managed to pull it together and have so far gone 11 games unbeaten. This includes their 5-1 thrashing of Ireland in the Playoffs and a 4-0 win over Poland, who they could be drawn with. They also recently secured a draw with Germany, who they could also get. A bit earlier in their timeline, before the Euro 2016, they lost to Portugal and didn’t end up qualifying, so they may be looking for revenge there. Denmark out of all teams, would be most happy with a fellow European team from Pot 1 and 2, as further afield is somewhat unknown territory in their recent history.
The Surprise act of Euro 2016 will be looking to show themselves on the World Stage this time around. They have already defeated European rivals, Croatia, once in the process, as well as knocking out England in the Euros and taking a draw from eventual winners Portugal, in the group stages. It is possible they would struggle against some of more attacking and skillful Southern and Central American teams. Of course, Brazil and Argentina, will be tough, but if they were to get Peru, Colombia or Mexico, they could also be in trouble. To make things count in this World Cup, they will need at least one of the weaker teams in all the first two pots. They would prefer a European team in Pot 1 most likely. Russia would be ideal as Iceland can perform in big games against the odds. It’s fair to say, that they have the ability to get past many of Pot 4 though.
Costa Rica will avoid their Central American neighbors and so they can’t play Mexico again. In terms of Pot 2, they may be hoping for England or Uruguay, as they got a draw against the prior and won against the latter in the group stages of a competition where they fared well over all, reaching the Quarter finals. Worse case for them would be Spain, who thrashed them a few weeks ago 5-0, but even if they get a European team in the Pot 1, they could still get them. Disastrous for Costa Rica would be a Germany and then Spain.
Many Swedish fans would be forgiven for thinking they could take on the world after a very impressive qualifying campaign, which saw them beat France, finish ahead of Holland and of course, deny Italy their first world cup for over 50 years. They might try to avoid France, as they also lost to them in the process, but this said, if they drew Brazil or Germany, it could be a different story and so if they could choose between them or France, I think they would opt for France, as they know their team and game-play a bit better. They have a quite a good History of drawing with England, so if they get either Brazil or Argentina in Pot 1, they might be content with a draw against the English, then picking up a win against the Pot 4 team.
Although Tunisia fared quite well in their group and fixtures they were given, they still go into this World Cup unbeaten. They haven’t qualified since 2006 and have never got past the group stage ever, so they will up against it, with a Pot 1 and Pot 2 who have a higher calibre than ever. What’s more, is they have not won a game in the World Cup since even later, in 1978, so the odds are stacked against them. They may look for Peru in Pot 2, as these also have little world cup experience. If they make use of their experience and beat them it would be help, but on paper, Peru team is far superior, so it will be a major upset. Either them or Croatia, another team who have struggled to get past the group stage historically. If they could get passed these two teams, then they could secure a surprise second place. Any Pot 1 team they will have trouble with, so they will be hoping for Russia, the weakest on paper, but even this won’t be easy in front of an expectant crowd.
Egypt are another team who have very little experienced as this level. Appearing only twice before and the last time, in 1990, they did manage to qualify they didn’t get past the group stage, the time before that was 1934, the second world cup ever and in this too they didn’t get past the groups. However, this time round, they have the diamond that is Liverpool forward, Mohamed Salah, who has performed exceptional so far in qualifying, as well as at club level. His experience against World Class players, may the difference. This said, he is just one man and like Tunisia, they will need a similar result in the draw and one of the lesser Pot 2 teams.
Senegal’s experiences is somewhere between the two other African pot 3 teams, they have qualified just the once, but the time they did, in 2002, they surprised everyone to get to the quarter final. Now, after a 16-year absence, they will be hoping to achieve the same again or maybe more. Last time they appeared, they were in a group with Uruguay and France and they finished second behind Denmark, beating France in the opening game and finishing the group stage unbeaten. They can get both Uruguay and France again and although times have changed, the enemy you know is certainly better than the one you don’t in Senegal’s case, especially as they have managed good results against them before.
The first team to qualify from Asia, Iran, is now in their fourth World Cup and the first time they have achieved consecutive qualification. They have finished bottom of the group all but once in their World Cup History, but this Iranian team are not ones to be underestimated. They destroyed their competition in qualification, scoring 36 goals and only conceding 5 in 18 matches. They could easily brush aside any of the teams in Pot 4, however, they are limited to just Australia, Morocco or Panama. Out of these, they would probably choose Panama, who it is feasible to seeing them getting a good score line. They would be no match for any of the Pot 1s though and they will just have to take it as it comes. But, if they can get even a draw against a Pot 2 team, they could get through with 4 Points, if they get a good enough goal difference and we know they and can score.