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December 11, 2013

Direct Kick: The U.S. got a tough World Cup draw

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — Oh my oh my did the United States ever get a tough draw for next year’s World Cup.

The draw was held last Friday, and the U.S. was put in the same group with Germany, Ghana and Portugal. Looking over this group, it could be called a “group of death” along with Group B which consists of world champion Spain, world runner-up the Netherlands, Chile and Australia.

Ford the U.S. it was the worst possible draw. The Germans are currently ranked No. 2, Portugal No. 5 and Ghana comes in at 24th. The U.S. are currently 14th in the world standings.

I don’t see the U.S. getting out of this group. I hope I am wrong, but I don’t think I am. Even though the U.S. beat Germany earlier this year, it wasn’t the full German National Team. It was more like their C team. So I can’t see us beating them.

Portugal has Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the top players on the planet. So any time he is on the pitch Portugal is a threat to win. And Ghana, while ranked below the U.S., has given us fits in the past. So really there is no game we can look at and say “that’s a win for us.”

And that’s sad, considering the strides that America has made under Coach Jurgen Klinsmann since he took over. But that’s the luck of the draw when it comes to the World Cup. Why oh why couldn’t they have been put in Group H, which consists of Belgium, Algeria, South Korea and Russia? Or in Group E, which features Switzerland, Ecuador, Honduras and France.

Host Brazil, in Group A, has what should be an easy path to the next round with Cameroon, Mexico and Croatia in their group. Argentina, the No. 3 ranked team, also has an easy route with Nigeria, Iran and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The World Cup, which will be held in Brazil, will kick off with Spain taking on the Netherlands in a rematch from the finals four years ago. That should be a very interesting match, even though Holland usually doesn’t play its best football early in the tournament. Still, it is a tantalizing match-up which should be fun to watch.

Here are my predictions as to which teams advance to the knockout round from each group.

In Group A, Brazil and Mexico will advance. Group B I have Spain and Holland. In Group C, Columbia and the Ivory Coast. Group D will have Uruguay and Italy emerge. France should win Group E if they are playing up to form, with Switzerland also advancing. Argentina will easily win Group F, with Bosnia-Heregovina also advancing. Germany and Portugal will get out of Group G, and in Group H, Belgium and Russia will advance.

Not a lot of surprises with my picks. I don’t see a lot of real upsets in the group stage.

• Just a quick update on South Laurel coach Jeff Davis, who collapsed before Friday night’s game with Clay County. As of Monday he was still in the hospital waiting the results of the tests that were performed on him.

sports@sentinel-echo.com

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