Luck of the draw for big guns

Sunday Tasmanian - - Sport - MATT WINDLEY

THERE were a lot of even groups to come out the World Cup draw in Moscow. But some na­tions fared bet­ter than oth­ers.

WIN­NERS

RUS­SIA: Stood a huge chance of be­ing em­bar­rassed on home soil if things went the wrong way. But Saudi Ara­bia in the tour­na­ment opener should be a winnable as­sign­ment, while Egypt en­sures that the Sbor­naya will be favoured to ad­vance to the Round of 16.

SPAIN: Was the dan­ger­ous floater that no­body wanted to draw, but things could have panned out dis­as­trously for the 2010 cham­pion. The “derby” against Por­tu­gal will be a must-watch, but Morocco and Iran hold no con­cerns.

AR­GENTINA: Was a chance of miss­ing out go­ing into the fi­nal day of South Amer­i­can qual­i­fy­ing, now La Al­bice­leste has been dealt a draw that it should be able to ne­go­ti­ate with ease. As­sum­ing the Ar­gen­tines and France top their groups — a Round of 16 clash with Peru, Den­mark or Aus­tralia is more than man­age­able.

ENG­LAND: A lot of op­ti­mism about this Eng­land team de­spite the young­sters com­ing through the sys­tem. Gareth South­gate’s side should be able to ne­go­ti­ate a Group G also con­tain­ing Bel­gium, Panama and Tu­nisia, while the Round of 16 cross­over with Poland, Sene­gal, Colom­bia or Ja­pan isn’t in­tim­i­dat­ing ei­ther.

JA­PAN: Ja­pan has fared well. The Samu­rai Blue are in Group H along with Poland, Sene­gal and Colom­bia and would have to be con­sid­ered a chance of mak­ing the Round of 16 for just the third time.

LOSERS

IRAN AND MOROCCO: Spain and Por­tu­gal in your group. Good luck with that.

COSTA RICA: Plonked in

Group E along with Brazil, Switzer­land and Ser­bia. A tough ask.

MEX­ICO: Tak­ing on Ger­many in its open­ing game is a daunt­ing as­sign­ment, while Swe­den will be tough to toss and South Korea is no pushover ei­ther.

CROA­TIA: Comes down to a bat­tle with the team it drew from Pot 3. But that’s Ice­land — again. The same Ice­land that it drew in qual­i­fi­ca­tion, which con­demned Zlatko Dalic’s men to the play­offs.

GLASS HALF FULL

URUGUAY: Luis Suarez and co will be laugh­ing all the way to the bank get­ting to play against Rus­sia, Egypt and Saudi Ara­bia. But then the Round of 16 cross­over is a tough one with Spain or Por­tu­gal likely ly­ing in wait.

AUS­TRALIA: Could have been bet­ter but France, Peru and Den­mark in Group C is by no means the Group of Death we faced in Brazil.

Pic­ture: GETTY IMAGES

FIGHT­ING CHANCE: Mile Je­d­i­nak cel­e­brates scor­ing against Hon­duras.

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