World Cup Draw: Cake or Death?

So that’s it, I guess.  The US is drawn into what’s pretty much universally being called the 2014 Group of Death ( a case could be made for Group D, but the presence of Costa Rica pretty much erases that idea). For the uninitiated, ‘Group of Death’ is a phrase coined in 1970 for Group 3 of the World Cup which featured defending champions England, eventual 1970 champs Brazil, Czechoslovakia, and Romania. Thanks to the genius of Eddie Izzard, some have taken to referring to the easiest group in a given tournament as the Group of Cake. Why? Well, watch this and then read on.

Yes, well… So according to FIFAs world rankings (generally derided as bullshit, but not so much that it really matters in this instance) Germany is the 2nd best team in the world and Portugal is #5. While the US is 14th and Ghana 10 places lower, that’s really not much of a difference and the US have been dumped out of the last two World Cups by the Black Stars.

Of course that’s all sports’ equivalent of ancient history. To advance past the group stage in 2014, the US needs to fare better than both Germany and Portugal. Stat guru Nate Silver has Portugal’s chances of advancing as being quite close to those of the US and I guess he figures that both will lose to Germany and both will have a tough match against Ghana. That’s as may be and anything can happen in the next 7 months (maybe Ronaldo decides he would rather paint. What? It could happen!) But still…Ugh.

As for the aforementioned easier group? Well, look no further than Group E, where France is, appropriately, in the Group of (Let Them Eat) Cake.

The groups, courtesy of


World Cup Groups

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