The draw to determine the qualifying groups for the 2014 World Cup will be held on 30 July 2011 at the Marina da Glória in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
In Europe, the pots for the groups are as follows:
Spain, Netherlands, Germany, England, Portugal, Italy, Croatia, Norway, Greece
France, Montenegro, Russia, Sweden, Denmark, Slovenia, Turkey, Serbia, Slovakia
Switzerland, Israel, Republic of Ireland, Belgium, Czech Republic, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Belarus, Ukraine, Hungary
Bulgaria, Romania, Georgia, Lithuania, Albania, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Austria, Poland
Armenia, Finland, Estonia, Cyprus, Latvia, Moldova, Macedonia, Azerbaijan, Faroe Islands
Wales, Liechtenstein, Iceland, Kazakhstan, Luxembourg, Malta, Andorra, San Marino
The plight of Wales, in Pot 6, is particularly surprising. Worse still, as this respected (and accurate) statistician notes, had Wales played and won in a pretty meaningless friendly (against American Samoa, for example), they would have leapfrogged the Faroe Islands into Pot 5. The same could have been achieved by a number of teams, as set out the article below:http://www.football-rankings.info/2011/07/2014-world-cup-seeding-what-if.html
England's ideal group?
That really would be a gift.
And the nightmare scenario?
I use local rivals (Ireland and Scotland) over similarly able teams (Czech Republic and Bulgaria, for example) because I feel that the atmosphere on trips to Dublin and Edinburgh would create far harder ties.