Friday, October 16, 2009

France, Russia, Portugal, Greece Seeded

We figured it would be France, Russia, Portugal and Greece ... and it is.

The four playoffs between the eight runners-up in European qualifying will determine the final four Europe sides into South Africa 2010.

News emerged a few weeks ago that the draw would be seeded, and not just four random pairings. Meaning the top four teams will be matched against the lower four. Prompting one Irish player to criticize FIFA and UEFA for not letting everyone know, from the start, how the process worked.

The latest FIFA rankings, released today, were used to choose the four seeded group runners-up teams, and France (9), Portugal (10), Russia (12) and Greece (16) rank ahead of Ukraine (22), Ireland (24), Bosnia-Herzegovina (42) and Slovenia (49).

The draw will be made Monday.

It doesn't seem quite fair that all the participants didn't know how this would work, from Day 1, and FIFA needs to make it clear if UEFA uses this method again, four years hence.

But everything else FIFA does is seeded, including the World Cup draw.

Sure, Ireland would like a chance to play Bosnia or Slovenia, and France has to be pleased it can't possibly be paired with Portugal or Russia. But it isn't as if FIFA hasn't seeded teams before.

And a home-and-home ... anything is possible. A tie on the road, a victory at home, and you're in. Pretty much the formula for success in any international soccer competition.

I'm looking forward to it. I know it's nerve-racking for the teams involved, but it should make for some entertaining matches, next month.
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