The drawing pots are listed on the screen during the draw ceremony for the 2014 soccer World Cup in Costa do Sauipe near Salvador, Brazil, Friday, Dec. 6, 2013. Source: AP
The final group stage draw of the 2014 FIFA World Cup has ended in Brazil, with Russia being put in Group H with Belgium, Algeria and South Korea. There is no clear favourite in the quartet. The only opponents in the group that look stronger than Russia are the Belgians, who had a fantastic qualifying campaign.
The draw ceremony was conducted by FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke, Sepp Blatter’s chief assistant. He was helped by football legends such as Geoff Hurst, Cafu, Fabio Cannavaro, Zinedine Zidane, Fernando Hierro and Lothar Matthäus among others.
Russia head coach Fabio Capello from Italy arrives for the draw ceremony for the 2014 soccer World Cup. Source: AP
Coach Fabio Capello was hoping that the Russian team would be able to avoid getting into the “group of death.” Both groups B and D can both have that distinction. Spain, Chile, Australia and the Netherlands ended up in the former as a result of the draw. Uruguay, Italy, Costa Rica and England found themselves in the latter. The Brazilian home team are also up against very serious rivals – Cameroon, Mexico and Croatia.
According to the regulations, 32 teams were divided into four baskets. Brazil, the host country was assigned to the first one, along with the seven best teams in the October 2013 FIFA rankings – Spain, Germany, Argentina, Colombia, Belgium, Switzerland and Uruguay. The rivals were assigned to the remaining three geographically.
Interestingly, unlike in the previous FIFA World Cup, all eight teams that ever won the title of the strongest on the planet got into the final stage. Bosnia-Herzegovina’s team is participating in the World Cup’s finals for the first time, being the only debutant.
FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke holds the slip showing "Russia" during the draw for the 2014 World Cup. Source: Reuters
RIR Expert, Olympic champion and former coach of Russia and CIS, Anatoly Byshovets pointed out that the Russian team’s opponents should not be underestimated. “The only formidable rival that our team has is Belgium, comprising only talented players such as Eden Hazard, Marouane Fellaini, Axel Witzel, Thibaut Courtois, Vincent Kompany, Romelu Lukaku – they all play for leading European clubs. This list could go on and on. Russians should still beat Algeria and Korea,” Byshovets said. “Curiously, in the last World Cup, in which Russia took part, we were in a similar group, which we could not get out of. At the time, Russia defeated Tunisia in the first match (2-0), and then lost to Japan (0-1) and Belgium (2-3). A more recent example was the last European Championships, where all the experts placed our team as favourites, but Dick Advocaat’s team did not come out of the group. It is too early to be celebrating. Everything will be decided exclusively on the football field. “
After the draw, the bookmakers have already formed their predictions: Brazil has a 23.5 percent chance of winning, Germany, a 14.9 percent chance and Argentina 12.9 percent. The world champions, Spaniards are in fourth place, with their chance of winning being just over 12 percent, according to the bookies. The Russian team’s chance of winning the championship is estimated to be 0.8 percent.
All rights reserved by Rossiyskaya Gazeta.