Thursday, November 19, 2009

And No. 32 ... Uruguay!

No more calls please! We have a lineup!

You can examine it right here on the home page. Just look down the column on the right ... and there are the 32 who are going to South Africa 2010. It took nearly three years of qualifying to figure it out, so it must be right.

Uruguay was last in the tournament, and is last in the alphabet ... but will never be "least." Not as long as New Zealand is around.

Uruguay got the final berth because it didn't play until late in the day, Wednesday. And not that the rest of the world doesn't respect Concacaf teams, but after Uruguay was held to 1-1 at home by Costa Rica (winning the aggregate 2-1), coach Oscar Tabarez felt compelled to promise that his team would play better in the World Cup.

Hey, Costa Rica can play a little. The Ticos had that bad stretch where they were outscored 8-0 and lost three straight (Honduras, Mexico, El Salvador), which killed their chances for a guaranteed berth, but they led Concacaf qualifying at the midpoint.

So ...

Let's divide the 32 teams into five groups, by order of what we might expect from them come South Africa, little more than 200 days away:

--The Just Here to See the Sights and Leave After the Group Stage Group: Algeria, Japan, Honduras, New Zealand, North Korea, Slovenia, South Korea, Uruguay.

--The Could Sneak into the Knockout Round Which We Will Consider Success Group: Chile, Greece, Mexico, Nigeria, Paraguay, Slovakia, South Africa, United States.

--The We're Thinking Quarterfinals Even if It's Not Realistic Group: Argentina (as long as Maradona is coach), Denmark, France, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Portugal, Slovenia, Switzerland.

--The Four Who Could Make the Semis if Everything Breaks Right Group: Cameroon, England, Italy, Serbia.

--The One of Us Is Gonna Win and Most Everyone Knows It Group: Brazil, Germany, Netherlands, Spain.

More interesting breakdowns of the Final 32 in tomorrow's post.

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