England’s World Cup group: Best and worst case scenarios

Date published: Thursday 16th November 2017 11:02

The complete line-up for next month’s World Cup draw is now known after Peru became the 32nd and final team to secure a place.

England will be in pot two at the draw so we can now take a look at which teams Gareth Southgate’s men could face in the group stage, and who they will definitely avoid.


Pot A: Russia, Germany, Brazil, Portugal, Argentina, Belgium, Poland, France
Pot B: Spain, Peru, Switzerland, England, Colombia, Mexico, Uruguay, Croatia
Pot C: Denmark, Iceland, Costa Rica, Sweden, Tunisia, Egypt, Senegal, Iran
Pot D: Serbia, Nigeria, Australia, Japan, Morocco, Panama, South Korea, Saudi Arabia


England’s worst case scenario
Germany, Costa Rica and Nigeria

The good news for England is they are unlikely to draw a group as tough as they did in Brazil four years ago, when they were lumbered with four-time winners Italy, two-time winners Uruguay, and eventual 2014 Group D winners Costa Rica.

Based on FIFA’s October rankings, which have been used to seed all four pots, the nightmare group for England is Germany, Costa Rica and Nigeria.

While Denmark are the highest-ranked team in pot three, and Serbia the highest-ranked in pot four, England cannot be drawn with more than one other European side.

Should England replicate their most recent World Cup result against each of those teams, Gareth Southgate’s side would end the 2018 group stage with just two points.


An easier path
Russia, Senegal and Saudi Arabia

England proved at the 2010 World Cup that any group can be tough, scraping through to the knockout stage with two draws and a win against the United States, Algeria and Slovenia respectively.

That said, Southgate will hope for three games that give his team a chance to warm into the tournament.

Pot one also includes hosts Russia, who are 58 places below France in the rankings. Were England to draw Senegal from pot three and Saudi Arabia from pot four, they would have achieved the easiest group possible based on FIFA’s rankings.


The group of goals
Belgium, Tunisia and Japan

Some teams were more potent than others during qualifying – what would be the most threatening draw for England’s defence?

Germany and Belgium both scored 43 goals in qualifying – at 4.3 goals per game, that makes them the biggest goal threat England could face.

Tunisia would represent the greatest goal threat from pot three, having scored at just under two goals a game in their final group qualifying stage.

All that would leave England with Japan or Saudi Arabia from pot four, who both scored at 1.7 goals per game in their round three Asia qualifying group.


The group of the grudge
Argentina, Iceland and Australia

England’s World Cup history with Argentina goes way back – the Rattin red card in 1966, the Hand of God 20 years later, the penalty shoot-out defeat in 1998 and David Beckham’s redemption in 2002. A meeting with Messi and co in the groups would carry plenty of hype around it.

Iceland humiliated England at Euro 2016 and they would relish the chance to do so again in their first World Cup finals, while any sporting encounter between England and Australia always features plenty of needle.


Who will England avoid – for now?
No team from the same pot may be drawn in the same group, which means there are seven teams England are certain not to face until the knockout rounds, should they make it that far.

The 1966 World Cup champions will certainly be glad not to face Spain at such an early stage in the competition – the 2010 winners made short work of their qualifying group, winning nine and drawing one.

Meanwhile, the Three Lions will also avoid James Rodriguez’s Colombia, Luis Suarez’s Uruguay and Luka Modric’s Croatia, who help make up a dangerous looking pot two.

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