In an international tournament a group of death refers to a group during the group stages that is very difficult to qualify from, another reason why It has been referred to as thus, is simply because some of the favourite teams to qualify find themselves trying to qualify via very limited slots. Thereby leading to untimely exist of some of the tournament’s top seeded (a distribution of strong teams among weak teams in each group)teams. Group’s were first characterized in this manner in the Fifa world cup but overtime we have seen this term “group of death” been used in other relatively smaller tournaments/competitions.
A group of death could most simply be put as a group that contains the strongest/top or favourite teams according to FIFA’s world ranking as a measure to determine the strength of these teams . Most times as you would come to read below these teams could most likely go on in the competition and eventually take home the ultimate price (the trophy ).
The group of death has become very eminent after the inception of FIFA based world ranking in 1994. This same year group E was regarded to be the group of death because it housed teams like Mexico who were 17th as at the point qualified for the world cup being hosted by the USA. Other teams in this group included Italy ranked 1st, the republic of Ireland and Norway… Ranked thirteen and fifth respectively. Mexico, Italy and the Republic of Ireland all proceeded to the next round from this very difficult group.
The next world cup which was hosted by France in 1998, saw group G emerge as thus, this group had teams like Romania who were number 5 in world ranking and finished as group leaders, Colombia ranked 9th who seemed like favourites through the qualifying rounds but found themselves packing their bags after the 1st stage alongside Tunisia who were ranked 23rd while England (6th ) finished as runners up .
Korea Japan 2002 had Nigeria featuring in one of such groups alongside Argentina who were ranked 2nd, Sweden who were 10th and somehow England found themselves in the group of death yet again. The African representatives got eliminated alongside the South American giants. With Sweden and England qualifying as leaders and runners up respectively. England were eliminated by eventual winners Brazil in the quarter finals.
In Germany 2006, group E was the group to avoid. It had teams like Ghana 50th, The Czechs who were 2nd, the Americans 8th and Italy 12th. These rankings were shoved aside as Ghana finished the group in 2nd as group leaders Italy despite their ratings went on to win the tournament against all odds.
The next showpiece, South Africa 2010 had Spain, Chile , Switzerland and Honduras all battling it out for survival from such a tough group. As expected The Swiss and Honduras got eliminated while Chile who progressed to the 2nd round were sent packing by another team from the continent of America, Brazil. Group leaders Spain emerging from such a tight group went on to become eventual champions .
Most recently Group G in Brazil 2014 had the likes of Portugal, The United States,Ghana and Germany all ranked 14th, 13th, 23rd and 2nd respectively. Germany finished on top as they went on to lift the trophy, the USA qualified ahead of Portugal having the same point but a lesser goal difference as they were sent packing along with the black stars of Ghana who could only manage a draw one their 3 outings.
Group A: Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Uruguay
Group B: Portugal, Spain, Morocco, Iran
Group C: France, Australia, Peru, Denmark
Group D: Argentina, Iceland, Croatia, Nigeria
Group E: Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia
Group F: Germany, Mexico, Sweden, South Korea
Group G: Belgium, Panama, Tunisia, England
Group H: Poland, Senegal, Colombia, Japan
Looking at the group’s as posted above most have considered group D to be the group of death seeing the prospects of Iceland with a population of a little over 300,000 people beating the likes of Croatia, Ukraine and Turkey to top their group on their way to Russia during the qualifiers.
Croatia is another team to be weary of although they had to wait until the final qualifying round to cruise past Greece on a 4-1 aggregate. Some of their big names include middle field marshals Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic while the big man upfront is Mario Mandzukic.
Nigeria being the first team to qualify off the continent of Africa doing so in exquisite fashion as they beat Zambia, Cameron and Algeria to secure a place in Russia . Gernot Rohrs would be shipping in some of his big guns who play in the top tier in England, familiar names like Alex Iwobi, Kelechi Iheanacho , Victor Moses etc among those invited.
Argentina despite a top quality attacking line up needed the help of captain Lionel Messi as he put up a hat trick performance to see his team book a place at the world show. The attack line-up of this Argentine side is real fire power and could burn through any defence but then again this is football. Some of their prolific attackers include Paulo Dybala, Sergio Aguero, Mauro Icardi and Gonzalo Higuain.
Head to Head stats of
Nigeria against Argentina
Games won: 2
Games drawn: 1
Games lost: 5
Date Match Result Score Competition
25 Jun 1994 Argentina v Nigeria L 2-1 FIFA World Cup
10 Jan 1995 Nigeria v Argentina D 0-0 FIFA Confederations
02 Jun 2002 Argentina v Nigeria L 1-0 FIFA World Cup
12 Jun 2010 Argentina v Nigeria L 1-0 FIFA World Cup
01 Jun 2011 Nigeria v Argentina W 4-1 International Friendly
06 Sep 2011 Argentina v Nigeria L 3-1 International Friendly
25 Jun 2014 Nigeria v Argentina L 2-3 FIFA World Cup
14 Nov 2017 Argentina v Nigeria W 2-4 International Friendly
Another group to look out for would be Group B as Portugal and Spain prepare to make it out of that group with Iran and Morocco, the obvious underdogs…
It’s also fair to state that these draws seem to be favourable to most teams . Let’s wait and see June 14 ain’t faraway.
Btw; what’s your opinion, which is the group of death in Russia?