Why Belgium and Switzerland should not be seeded

jamesb Roar Guru

By jamesb, jamesb is a Roar Guru


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    When FIFA announced the World Cup seedings back in October, there were a few surprises with the eight seeds.

    To determine the seeds, FIFA used their ranking system. The eight seeds were Brazil (hosts), Spain, Germany, Argentina, Colombia, Uruguay, Switzerland and Belgium.

    The two surprises were Switzerland and Belgium.

    The unexpected omissions were Italy and the Netherlands.

    Some may say that Colombia were lucky to be seeded.

    However, Colombia did qualify second in South America, which many experts would regard the toughest group to qualify for a World Cup. Also Colombia did make the quarter finals of the Copa America in 2011.

    I give Colombia the benefit of the doubt. Just.

    But the same can’t be said for Switzerland and Belgium.

    Both teams qualified from easier groups in Europe, therefore both teams do not deserve to be seeded.

    Both teams in recent times haven’t done enough to prove their status as seeded teams. When you compare them with the likes of Italy and the Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland are well behind.

    Here is a comparison in the last four years what of Italy, Holland, Belgium and Switzerland have achieved on the field.

    2010 World Cup: group stage
    2012 Euro: runners up
    Brazil World Cup qualifying: six wins, four draws. Qualified for Brazil

    2010 World Cup: runners up
    2012 Euro: group stage
    Brazil World Cup qualifying: nine wins, one draw. Qualified for Brazil

    2010 World Cup: group stage
    2012 Euro: Did not qualify. Last Euro appearance 2008
    Brazil World Cup qualifying: seven wins, three draws. Qualified for Brazil

    2010 World Cup: Did not qualify. Last World Cup appearance 2002
    2012 Euro: Did not qualify. Last Euro appearance 2000.
    Brazil World Cup qualifying: eight wins, two draws. Qualified for Brazil

    The Netherlands and Italy have made the final of the World Cup and Euro respectively.

    While with Belgium and Switzerland, between them only Switzerland made the 2010 World Cup, where in that tournament they were knocked out in the group stage.

    When the seedings were announced in October, Belgium was ranked fifth, Switzerland seventh, Netherlands and Italy were tied in eighth spot.

    With Brazil been host and ranked 11th, to be seeded, you had to be ranked in the top seven.

    When the World Cup draw was announced last week, there were three “group of death” groups. Using the October FIFA rankings, here are the toughest groups:

    Group B
    Spain (1)
    Netherlands (8)
    Chile (12)
    Australia (57)

    Group D
    Uruguay (6)
    Italy (8)
    England (10)
    Costa Rica (31)

    Group G
    Germany (2)
    USA (13)
    Portugal (14)
    Ghana (23)

    In each of those groups, you have three teams that are ranked inside the top 15. Meanwhile, let’s have a look at how Belgium and Switzerland fared.

    Group E
    Switzerland (7)
    France (21)
    Ecuador (22)
    Honduras (34)

    Group H
    Belgium (5)
    Russia (19)
    Algeria (32)
    South Korea (56)

    Both Groups E and H should be termed the “group of life”.

    In each of those groups, only one country is ranked in the top 15. France would be heavily favoured to get through their group, despite the fact that France needed to get through a playoff to qualify for the World Cup, and are ranked well outside the top 10.

    Belgium should easily progress through to the round of 16 due to the lack of strong opposition, while Switzerland might have a battle against Ecuador for that top two spot in their group.

    What this all proves is a couple of things.

    FIFA’s rankings need to be reviewed. There needs to be a greater emphasis on teams that have qualified for tournaments over a four year period, and how those teams have fared in those tournaments.

    FIFA rankings shouldn’t be rewarding teams that do well in high profile friendlies or the amount of friendlies they play. Qualifiers and tournament play should be counted very highly.

    Countries that are ranked in the top 15 or 16, should have qualified and played in a World Cup and their continental confederation tournament, such as the Euro’s, Copa America, Asian Cup, Africa Cup of Nations, or CONCACAF’s Gold Cup over a four year period.

    Switzerland and Belgium shouldn’t be ranked in the top 15 or 16. Colombia may well be in that same boat.

    The other thing FIFA should do is with the World Cup draw have four pots of eight teams, but with a difference.

    In pot one, have the top eight seeded teams including the host country.

    In Pot two, have the next eight higher ranked teams, regardless of confederation.

    Example, it could be teams ranked from ninth to 16th.

    In Pot three, have the next eight higher ranked teams.

    Those teams could rank from 17 to 31. While pot four, have the remaining eight teams, where those countries could rank from 32 to 59.

    In this system, you could have three or four European teams in the one group, or two South American teams in another group.

    But at least the groups will be fair and balanced.

    You may end up with one or two groups that are lauded with the ”group of death”, but that would come down to the luck of the draw.

    In Brazil 2014, if results go according to plan, two former World Cup Champions could exit by the round of 16 stage.

    In all likelihood, Brazil could face either Spain or the Netherlands in the round of 16. For that match to appear so early on is a waste.

    While in Group D, three former champions, England, Uruguay and Italy face off with one to miss out.

    At the moment, it is the appalling that the FIFA rankings system has created three difficult groups.

    It definitely isn’t the luck of the draw.

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    The Crowd Says (32)

    • December 10th 2013 @ 6:38am
      tell me more said | December 10th 2013 @ 6:38am | ! Report

      Completely disagree, both teams are seeded by merit on their current form, its not their fault they were in your opinion, in an easy group, thats just the luck of the draw for the WCQ and Belgium especially deserve their seeding as they have proved in WCQ and friendlies they are a major force to be reckoned with. Think the seedings are wrong, easy solution, win the games you play and not think about the games you played 4 years ago.

      • December 10th 2013 @ 1:29pm
        Adrian said | December 10th 2013 @ 1:29pm | ! Report

        i second this comment, the ranking is based on merit. I would agree that those teams are not the power house, however its merit over name.

        • December 11th 2013 @ 11:24am
          Cantab said | December 11th 2013 @ 11:24am | ! Report


          Italy struggled to qualify and had a dismal 2010 WC. So by the authors method (which I don’t agree with) should be seeded.

    • December 10th 2013 @ 6:39am
      Cedric Van Dorpe said | December 10th 2013 @ 6:39am | ! Report

      The qualifying group (uefa group A) consisted of: Croatia, Serbia, Belgium, Scotland, Macedonia and Wales; there were no easy games there, no Sam Marino like teams with at least 4 of those 6 teams legitimately believing they could qualify from the group. Belgium won the group undefeated with only 4 goals scored against it in those 10 qualifying games. All of this happened in the past year, which is a way more recent and logical statistic to judge the strength of the young Belgian squad than the 2010 WC, where most current Belgian players were still teenagers or not even part of the squad. Why people look at WC results from 4 or even 8 years ago to judge the strength of a current squad is beyond me.

    • December 10th 2013 @ 7:35am
      nickoldschool said | December 10th 2013 @ 7:35am | ! Report

      I dunno if Switzerland and Belgium ‘should or should not’ have been seeded but they were so I think its better to move on now. Dunno if Italy and Holland deserved it more. based on what, last WC results, reputation? Sure then.

      I completely disagree with FIFA rankings but at the end we have to accept it. The magic of the draw is that you have strong groups and easier ones, in every comp, and that sometimes you think you are in an easy group but once on the pitch you see Senegal beat France and NZ draw against bigger teams. So I think its time to accept the draw as it was ( like the rest of the world) and get pumped up for the matches to come.

      If someone pushes your logic James, one day we will have a WC with the top 32 teams qualified and groups created by computers according to rankings. And guess what, Oz will not be in it.

    • December 10th 2013 @ 8:33am
      Chris said | December 10th 2013 @ 8:33am | ! Report

      While not a fan of the FIFA rankings, In the last two years both those teams have got the job done when it counted in qualifiing and and so why should they be penalised for not performing or making previous World Cups (remember that the Swiss beat Spain last time around)?

      In the past two yeats, Switzerland has beaten Brazil and Germany and has drawn with Netherlanders while Belgium has defeated Netherlands. They are some good scalps

      The Netherlands has lost to Germany (twice), Denmark, Sweden, Portugal, Bulgaria while beating up on the likes San Marino and Andorra. Italy have lost to Spain (twice), England, France, Brazil, Argentina, so why do they deserved to be ranked when they can’t beat the top teams?

      I also wonder why you have left Uruguay out of this article? They are also a seeded team however finished 5th in South American qualifiing (so the 6th best South American team when Brazil is included) and came through a playoff. Surely, they are not strong enough as well? Why not bump Chile and Equador up the list as well?

      You are complaining about three former champions being drawn in the same group??? Fair enough Italy won in 2006 but do you want tournaments results from 64 (Uruguay) and 48 (England) years ago to count???

      FIFA needs a rule, they have a rule and they go by their ranking at a set date. All teams know this well in advance.

      • December 10th 2013 @ 9:21am
        jamesb said | December 10th 2013 @ 9:21am | ! Report

        I left Uruguay out because they won the Copa America in 2011 and came fourth in South Africa 2010, therefore they deserve to be seeded.

        In his article, I am trying to argue the performances of the teams over a four year period (since the last World Cup draw in ’09), not in the last 18 months.

        Let’s have a debate over the teams performances and achievements over the last four years.

        • December 10th 2013 @ 9:27am
          Bobby said | December 10th 2013 @ 9:27am | ! Report

          I don’t think Uruguay are that good if it was not for the ‘hand of satan’ they would have been eliminated by Ghana.

    • December 10th 2013 @ 9:25am
      Bobby said | December 10th 2013 @ 9:25am | ! Report

      Belgium have a bunch of players who can be put down to as a once in a lifetime dream team. They have a good number of good players that are around the same age.
      I would be very surprised if Belgium does not make the semi finals.

      Group B cannot be called a group of death; Spain and Netherlands will easily qualify.

      • Roar Guru

        December 10th 2013 @ 10:12am
        HardcorePrawn said | December 10th 2013 @ 10:12am | ! Report

        I think you’re being a little harsh on Chile there, they’re one of the strongest South American teams and should be more than a match for the Netherlands, maybe even Spain on their day.
        I reckon that had they been in any other group they’d be among the favourites to get to the knock-out stages. I don’t think anyone in Spain or the Netherlands will be underestimating them, nor expecting an easy ride out of the group.

    • Roar Rookie

      December 10th 2013 @ 9:42am
      Sam Clark said | December 10th 2013 @ 9:42am | ! Report

      Belgium’s team sheet looks world-class. Not sure how they surrendered so meekly to Colombia and managed to lose against Japan, however. Perhaps the only thing that will stop them from putting in a really strong showing at this World Cup will be stage fright. Hazard, Lukaku, Fellaini, Kompany, Witsel, Vermaelen, Mirallas, Benteke, De Bruyne, Dembele, Mignolet and Vertonghen – the list goes on. They have a very, very good side and are good value for their ranking right now. Switzerland.. well, I’m in agreeance with you there.

      Although, I may be thinking with my wallet. I got on Belgium early and put $20 @ $15 on them to take out the whole tournament.

      • December 10th 2013 @ 9:50am
        AZ_RBB said | December 10th 2013 @ 9:50am | ! Report

        Do not underestimate Japan! They did very decent in the Confed Cup, despite the results not going their way. So I don’t think South American conditions will bother them. I’m confident they will reach the 16 and who knows what might happen.

      • December 10th 2013 @ 10:12am
        nickoldschool said | December 10th 2013 @ 10:12am | ! Report

        Bold move backing Belgium Sam but well done! Imo they should have been at +$20-25 considering they haven’t done anything at this level for a very long time. I have money on the French @ $17 but I think Brasil will be very very hard to beat on home turf.