World Cup Draw: Pot 4
Considered the weakest teams in the competition, even in some of the teams here there is enough experience and quality to cause an upset and get through to the later stages of the competition if they get a good draw. It will be tough, but these teams got this far and will definitely be looking to surprise everyone in this tournament by getting even further!
Check them out here:
The lowest ranked European team might be in Pot 4, but they still won’t be a pushover. Qualifying top of Group D was no easy feat, with the likes of Republic of Ireland, Wales and Austria to compete against and it came down to the last game to qualify over Ireland and avoid the playoffs. They have their fair share of experience in the World Cup too, this is now their 11th appearance. However, they missed out on Brazil 2014, and in the two before this, they didn’t get out the group, so will be keen to make their mark. None of the Pot 3 teams will have an easy game against them and they could easily give teams like Poland and Russia in Pot A and Pot B teams like Croatia and Uruguay, a run for their money. They have not played any of the teams in the competition since Euro qualifications back 2015, where they lost home and away to both Portugal and Denmark, two teams they could get again, so this may be their downfall.
Now in their third consecutive World Cup, since their first appearances in 1994, they have only missed one tournament in over 20 years, so they are used to the format. Of their 5 appearances they have got out of 3 out of 5 of their groups and they very much take it as it comes. They are second place experts in groups and can hold big teams to draws and sneaking through, a technique that seems to work perfectly for them. Although, it won’t be possible against the more attacking South American and European sides, like Brazil, Belgium or Spain, they could take the draws against any of the others. They aren’t to be underestimated either and only a few weeks ago they won 4-2 against Argentina in a friendly. They also have the capability to defeat any of the Pot 3 teams too, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they make it 4 out of 6 in Russia.
After a mammoth 22 game qualifying campaign, which ended with a 3-0 victory against Honduras, Australia are heading into their fourth consecutive World Cup. They will hope to make the grueling campaign worth it by getting past the Group Stage at least. In their previous two appearances, they only managed the Group Stage, but they will be hoping to at least match 2006 record of Round of 16. That time round, they drew Brazil, Croatia and Japan, the first two they could get again this time. Croatia in Pot B, would be the best of a bad bunch, but no team in Pot A, Australia would fancy their chances against. They will therefore look to avoid another European teams and Costa Rica in Pot 3, ideal for them would be either Egypt or Tunisia, who have very little World Cup experience in comparison to the Aussies.
Japan are the most successful team in Asia and this is their sixth world cup on the bounce, fifth if you don’t include the one they hosted. They have so far been hit and miss in terms of getting out of the Group Stage. They did in 2010 and 2014, but the others they did not. They lost 2 out of 18 in qualifying, which is pretty good going, finishing above both Pot 3 teams, Australia and Saudi Arabia. They can’t play Iran again, but if they get an African team in Pot 3, they will fancy their chances for sure, plus they also beat Denmark in the last World Cup group the two teams were in. They very recently lost to both Brazil and Belgium in Friendlies, although this to be expected, and the latter was by just one goal. Most likely, another match up with Belgium might be preferable to Brazil, but they would still prefer Russia. Pot 2 is a wild card for them and they will just have to see how they get on against whoever they are match with.
This is the first World Cup for Morocco since 1998 and they haven’t got out the Group Stage since 1986. As such, with a lack of experience on the World Stage and getting out of groups, they will be up against it for sure. They topped their group to qualify and saw off Ivory Coast in the process, which bodes well. They will have to get the tougher teams in Pot 3 though, as they share the same confederation as three of the bottom four. They might fancy their chances against Iceland, who may not have as much experience against teams like themselves. Whoever they get from Pot 1 and Pot 2, they will just have to hope for getting a couple of sneaky goals, but it will be tough.
This is uncharted territory for Panama, as it is their first ever finals, which is an accomplishment already for them. However, they will struggle, not just with experience, but with what they have to back them up quality-wise. They will avoid Mexico in Pot 2 and second ranked Costa Rica in Pot 3. They recently lost to Pot 3 Prospect Iran, so hopefully they can get either Tunisia or Egypt, as they may get a win here. But, honestly, it’s hard to see them getting anything from any of the teams in Pot 1 or Pot 2 and I can’t see them getting to the Round of 16, this time round anyway.
This is South Korea ninth appearance in the World Cup and so far, they have only got past the Group Stage twice, but, this includes them getting fourth place in 2002, when they hosted. They will think of this and hope to achieve the same, but they know it will be tough. A factor on their side is that in recent weeks they have played against quite a few competitors for the trophy in June, including Iran, Serbia, Morocco, Colombia ad Russia, so they know what they are up against. They can’t play either of the first three in the groups, but Columbia and Russia, they can play both. They lost to Russia, but won in a surprise victory against Columbia, so will be hoping for a repeat of this and hope for them in the group. Despite the loss to the Russians, they would still prefer them over any other team in Pot A.
For the lowest ranked in the process, Saudi Arabia, this is their first World Cup since 2006, and previous results for them even before this weren’t great either. They have taken serious beatings by the top teams in the past and in fact, the only teams they haven’t lost to since 1994, are South Africa, who did not manage qualify, and Tunisia, who haven’t won a game in the finals since 1978. I can see all the Pot 1 and Pot 2 teams cruising past them again. However, if they get Tunisia again or maybe Egypt, they might be able to pick up a win here too. However, it would be a huge upset if they did get past the group stage.