We’re taking a break from club football as it’s time for the festival that is the World Cup Finals. Because the game can’t handle the concept of co-hosts, South Korea aren’t given that privilege and instead it falls on Japan to put on the best party they can. Firstly, here’s the groups:
Hoddle has, somewhat controversially, gone with Chris Bart Williams and Nigel Quashie. Shaun Newton is also a surprise inclusion, though in a world where Alan Stubbs and Steve Haslam are stars players, nothing is a surprise any more.
In group A we have the holders, Portugal. Other than that though, there is little to shout about. Portugal beat Mexico with minimal fuss, whilst Egypt squeeze past Iran. It’s then 0-0 draws all round leaving Portugal looking very strong and Egypt just a point away.
This is another less than captivating group but the hosts Japan are putting up a decent fight, beating Ecuador to keep their hopes alive. Sweden and Nigeria are well placed after drawing with each other, though Nigeria’s win over Japan has them in the box seat
This is a bit of a tough group with 94 champions Brazil paired with 98 hosts France. Should be hosts South Korea are also in there, along with Bakayoko’s Ivory Coast. Brazil beat France to get themselves off to a good start and put the French on the backfoot.
Is this Glenn Hoddle’s time to become a hero? It’s a favourable group but a less than mighty start, just about beating the USA
Neighbours Belgium and Holland are located in this group, with Belgium surprising the Euro 2000 hosts and leading the group.
The Northern Irish are here! What’s more, they beat Bulgaria despite the great Marashliev turning out for the Bulgarians. Denmark you may remember were runners up in both major tournaments so far and they certainly mean business here.
What a rough group this is for Ireland, with both Germany and Argentina in there. The two heavyweights are up first, with Argentina nicking the win Cameroon secure a decent draw with Argentina, but look what Ireland do!
Scotland have got another rough draw, similar to Ireland’s in many ways. Spain and Italy are feeling less charitable though, with Spain winning the battle of the giants and turning Scotland over.
With the group stages done, the last 16 draw is a corker