March 8, 2014
WORLD CUP BRAZIL 2014Saturday, December 7, 2013
Argentina drawn with Bosnia, Iran & Nigeria
Luck on Sabella’s side; England in “group of death” with Italy, Uruguay & Costa Rica
COSTA DO SAUIPE — Argentina couldn’t have had better luck yesterday as they were drawn with Iran, Nigeria and Bosnia in group F for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. England and Uruguay, however, were paired together in the much feared “group of death” alongside four-time winner Italia and Costa Rica.
“We didn’t get the group of death and we got a geographical area playing in Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte and Porto Alegre, that is in general terms positive,” said Argentina coach Alejandro Sabella.
“Everyone knows I’m a great admirer of Brazilian football, on top of that they’re the home side, which is a double edged sword.
“Brazil have a great coach and great players who will make being at home an advantage.”
Bosnia, the only one of the 32 teams taking part in their first World Cup finals, will have a dream start to their World Cup adventure as they kick off against Argentina in the Maracaná before facing Iran and Nigeria.
“Argentina are the group favourites and it will be a very special occasion for us to play our opening match against them at the Maracaná Stadium,” said coach Safet Susic.
“We should have an even chance alongside Nigeria to clinch the runners-up spot, although no one should underestimate Iran either.”
One former champion is sure to go out from Group D, with England against Italy in the jungle city of Manaus a mouth-watering opener for the two European sides.
“We know how good Italy are because we lost to them in the quarter-finals at the (2012) Euros,” said England boss Roy Hodgson. “The game is going to be tough from a climate point of view for both teams. We’re both in the same boat.”
Germany will come face-to-face with their former striker and coach Juergen Klinsmann, now in charge of the United States, with Portugal and Ghana completing the Group G lineup.
“Of course, a special moment for me to play against Germany but we beat them in a friendly this year and once you get on the pitch they are the just the opponent,” said Klinsmann, who won the World Cup as a player in 1990.
Geoff Hurst was a national hero when he scored a hat-trick in England’s 1966 final victory but he did his country no favours when he drew the former champions in one of the toughest 2014 World Cup groups.
With three balls already drawn and five to go in the pot containing the remaining European teams, Hurst pulled out England for the one vacant position in Group D to set up their hardest campaign for years.
To add more spice to the mix England’s opening game will be against Italy in Manaus in the humidity of the Amazon jungle on June 14.
Hodgson’s men must also contend with Uruguay’s red-hot striker Luis Suárez, top scorer in the Premier League this season with 13 goals for Liverpool.
FA chairman Greg Dyke was caught by TV cameras on Friday making a throat-slitting gesture, implying that England had been drawn in a “group of death.”
Forward Diego Forlán, who helped Uruguay to the semi-finals in 2010, said: “In comparison with what other teams got, it’s the hardest group of this World Cup.
“But you have to play the matches and at the last World Cup we were in a very complicated group but came through well.”
Host nation Brazil will kick off the tournament against Croatia in Sao Paulo on June 12 and the favourites should be relatively happy with a Group A also containing Mexico and Cameroon as they seek their sixth title.
Although the host’s should easily make the knock-out stages, their captain doesn’t seem very optimistic.
“We ended up in a strong group, one that gives you goose bumps,” said Thiago Silva. “A strong African side, perhaps one of the best, Mexico, who have been a tough adversary for us, and Croatia, who are a strong team physically. It’s very difficult but we’re ready.”
The final of 2010 in South Africa will be repeated as Spain, world and European champions, face Holland in the opening fixture in group B in Rio’s Maracaná. Chile and Australia complete the group.
“We will have to be prepared right from the first day, focus ourselves,” said coach Vicente Del Bosque, knowing the group runners-up are likely to face Brazil in the first knockout round.
“I expect that Brazil will be first in their group so we will have to take great pains to do the same,” he added.
France, who qualified via the playoffs, will be pleased with a Group E placing alongside Ecuador, Switzerland and Honduras.
“It could have been more complicated,” said coach Didier Deschamps.
“We know Switzerland well, they were seeded so obviously the toughest opponent. We don’t know Ecuador and Honduras that well and it will have an influence on our preparation.”
Fancied Belgium head up Group H alongside Algeria, Russia and South Korea while Group C, containing Colombia, Greece, Ivory Coast and Japan, looks the toughest to predict.
The final is in Rio on July 13.
Herald with Reuters, AP