1970 World Cup: Brazil, England, Czechoslovakia, Romania
The first time, we mentioned the concept of death group in a final phase of the World Cup. Mexican journalists had talked about the “grupo de la muerte” after the draw for the first round of “their” World Cup. In Group C, Brazil, the event’s big favorite, England, defending champion, and two other European teams inherit: Czechoslovakia, still solid and finalist in 1962, as well as Romania. Of the four groups, this one is clearly the strongest. The death group was born.
World Cup 1970 Brazil England
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1986: BRD, Denmark, Uruguay, Scotland
Two years after missing the European Championships in France, FRG fell on one leg in the first round of the World Cup. The West Germans are in Uruguay’s pool, champion in South America and above all the Danish scarecrow. With the Danish dynamite generation (Eljkaer-Larsen, Laudrup, Arnesen, the two Olsen, Lerby, Busk …) Denmark has a favorite sign stuck on its back. Add to that Scotland, who, if still not having passed a round of the World Cup, present some real sizes of the moment, like Strachan, Souness, Leighton, Archibald and are ruled by a certain Alex Ferguson. Hard to make more homogeneous, except that Denmark flies over the first round by beating their three opponents and making an impression against Uruguay beaten 6-1. Absorbed by talent, the Danes do not get much further. They are being pulverized by Spain in the eighth. Imbued with realism, the West Germans will go – almost – to the end.
WC 1986 FRG Germany Denmark
1990: England, Holland, Eire, Egypt
This group is a unique case in the history of the World Cup. Not so much of its composition, more of its epilogue. Holland, England and Eire know each other quite well, as before pulling the plug on the side of southern Italy, the three teams clashed in the first round of the European Championships two years earlier. A Euro won by Holland by Rinus Michels. Leo Beenhakker took over. It will be less successful than its predecessor. England, for its part, is being reborn with a certain Paul Gascoigne, who carries the hope of a nation. Eire is the small force on the rise. As far as Egypt is concerned, it is proof of unfailing solidity. The group is super tight to the last. The proof? Only one team wins a match: England v Egypt (1-0). The rest is a 1-1 or 0-0 draw. So at the end of the story it becomes necessary to decide between the Dutch and the Irish, in perfect equality. How? “Or what? By lottery. At the time, the top four-thirds initially continued the adventure. There will be no elimination. But a big blow since the loser of the draw will rub off against the Germans, who have become favorites in the competition after an impressive first round. It is the Netherlands that loses the coin toss. And will be eliminated a few days later. Eire will reach the neighborhood.
1990 Lineker Koeman World Cup
2002: Argentina, England, Sweden, Nigeria
In the history of the World Cup, no group has been stronger than the one between Argentina, England, Sweden and Nigeria. The Argentines land in Korea and Japan with a brand of favorites, far behind the blues anyway, who had already embroidered the other star on the jersey before the start of the competition. The result, we know it … For the Argentines, it was no more flamboyant. Winners of Nigeria (1-0) in their first match, Marcelo Bielsa’s players, with proven playing methods, fell to England in yet another revenge during the Falklands War (1-0) and then share the points against Sweden (1-1), presumably little thumb of the group and big final winner as Olof Mellberg’s friends come out on top, ahead of England.
WC 2002 England Argentina Beckham Veron
2006: Argentina, Holland, Serbia, Ivory Coast
On paper, it’s hard to make it more radiant, more alluring. More terrible also for a team from Côte d’Ivoire who discovered the superb competition during the German edition. Imagine a double world champion, a double second place and Serbia-Montenegro, whose individual talents were legion. Upon arrival, this group of deaths will be quickly dispatched by the two big favorites Argentine and Dutch. Two victories in the first two matches, including a memorable 6-0, which the South Americans inflicted on Serbia-Montenegro. Côte d’Ivoire will only have gone through. Or almost since Drogba and his friends will beat the Serbo Montenegrins on the final day (3-2).
2006 Crespo World Cup Argentina
2014: Italy, England, Uruguay, Costa Rica
A group of three former world champions, admit that it throws. In this hen, Costa Rica was destined to be eaten raw, more so than Giorgio Chellini elsewhere. And yet … it was Ticos who came out on top of this awful Group D. With Uruguay in the wake. Italy and England have been asked to search elsewhere. The English, defeated from the start by the Italians, sank with body and soul. As for the Italians, despite this initial success, they took the door after an epic final battle and a battle that went down in history due to a (new) blow from fangs from Luis Suarez, suspended for four months on the field and nine battles of selection after this planetary offense.
Luis Suarez and Giorgio Chiellini
BONUS: The Death of Death Group
A special case because it was a second phase, not a first round. But impossible not to mention it. It was the last time the World Cup was orchestrated around two group games before the semi-finals. We are in 1982 in Spain. The formula is complicated: 24 teams in the start, six groups of four in the first round and then four groups of three in the second. In this second phase, Brazil, the big favorite in this Spanish World Cup, is with Argentina, world champion in title, and Italy, future winner. A weak-minded group, while the Blues, polished, are with Northern Ireland and Austria. The fate of this death group will be sealed during a fantastic Italy-Brazil in Barcelona, won by Squadra, 3-2, via a hat trick from Paolo Rossi.
1982 World Cup Brazil Italy Socrates
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