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Group Of Death: The Toughest World Cup Groups Since 1986

Group Of Death: The Toughest World Cup Groups Since 1986
By Jason Brennan Updated

The nerves associated with a World Cup qualifying campaign are rarely matched for football fans. The competition itself doesn't come close, as we Irish know all too well, it's the getting there that counts, not so much the taking part. *Euro 2012

But supporters must savour the sweet success of qualification, because like all things, it must come to an end. Much like the ice-cold hand of death on your shoulder, you can feel the beginning of the end when Sepp Blatter's balls are placed on your shoulder.

The potted balls to decide the World Cup groups that is.

The ceremony is a key date in the calendar for any sporting fan, as it allows us to start predicting the winners by spending countless hours running through the probable knockout stages....everyone else does that too right?

Either way, at the end of draw we are left with some degree of disappointment, as four relative minnows are placed together, only for three or more quality sides to be stuck together in what we then dub "the group of death".

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With the world Cup just around the corner, we've put together a list of some of the toughest "groups of death" the World Cup has ever seen.

1986 - Group E - Denmark, West Germany, Uruguay, Scotland

HAHAHA Scotland in a group of death is what you're all thinking, but with heavyweights like Charlie Nicholas, Steve Nicol and Dundee's Maurice Malpas Scotland were no joke. OK, fine, all joking aside, this group is more about the talent of Denmark, West Germany and Uruguay then it is about Scotland, although they did have Graeme Souness and Gordon Strachan battening down the hatches.

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With Denmark winning all of their games, they claimed top spot, while Germany slipped into second, needing a late goal to draw with the South American's and Scotland to take an unlikely point off them too.

1990 - Group F - England, Ireland, Netherlands, Egypt

This one may be a little biased, there's probably not too many other countries that would have classed us as contenders for the cup, but we always kept the faith. With only one victory in all six games, this group was all about draws, which proves how tough it really was. England finished top, with the Irish and Dutch coming in as joint second, both assured of qualification via the best runners-up route.

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1994 - Group F - Mexico, Ireland, Italy, Norway

OK, so if 1990's group of death was "supposedly" biased, this one is in here on merit. Norway came into the competition as the second ranked team in the world, along with 1986 quarter-finalists Ireland, and semi-finalists Italy, and then there was the pesky Mexicans.

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With all teams finishing with a win and a draw, goal difference put the world's second place side on a plane home, while Mexico topped the group, and Ireland again sneaking into second place.

1998 - Group D - Spain, Nigeria, Paraguay, Bulgaria

On paper this probably wasn't too tough of a group. Spain to win finish top and the rest to fight it out among themselves you're thinking. Well unfortunately for Spain it didn't work out like that, with the South Americans and Africans qualifying ahead of them, thanks to Nigeria staging a late comeback to beat them 3-2, while Paraguay held them to a nil-all draw.

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2002 - Group F - Argentina, England, Sweden, Nigeria

Another tight group here, with Argentina, England, and Sweden all taking points off of each other. This group will be more so remembered for Argentina going home early, and Julius Aghahowa goal celebration, than for the quality of football.

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2006 - Group C - Argentina, Netherlands, Ivory Coast, Serbia and Montenegro

The first of two Ivory Coast inclusions, but with Argentina and the Dutch in it, this group could have made it here regardless. With the Africans coming into the tournament as the continents best teams in recent memory, with players like the two Toure's, Drogba, Kone, Eboue and Zakora, it ultimately turned out to be disappointment for The Elephants. The two big sides dealt with them comfortably, as they did with the Serbia and Montenegro, the only team the Ivory Coast managed to take points off, coming from 2-0 down to win 3-2.

2010 - Group G - Brazil, Portugal, Ivory Coast, North Korea

Who have thought the Ivory Coast would be so unlucky that they'd be put in two stupidly tough groups in a row. Never given the chance at an easier path to the knockout like some of their continental rivals, this side will go unfortunately go down as huge underachievers, but with a small asterisk noting they got f***ed over twice. This time taking points off of one of the top sides, a draw with Portugal wasn't enough, as the Iberians played out a dull draw with Brazil, finishing one point ahead of the Africans.

2014 - Group D - Italy, England, Uruguay, Costa Rica

To be fair there's a number of tough groups this time around, but unless one of the top sides go out, this will surely be the harshest group. With one top team guaranteed to go out, one of Italy, Uruguay and Costa Rica will have to join England on an early flight home.


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