Group of death
A group of death in a multi-stage tournament is a group which is unusually competitive, because the number of strong competitors in the group is greater than the number of qualifying places available for the next phase of the tournament. Thus, in the group phase, one or more strong competitors in the "group of death" will necessarily be eliminated, who would otherwise have been expected to progress further in the tournament. The informal term was first used for groups in the FIFA World Cup finals. It is now also used in other association football tournaments and other sports.
After the draw for a tournament has been made, debates often arise about which of the preliminary groups is "the" group of death. This happens for multiple reasons: in part, from more general debates about the relative strengths of the various competitors; but, additionally, because there is no exact definition of the term "group of death". Sometimes, the term simply signifies a group with only the strongest competitors, all of which are potential winners of the tournament, implying there is always precisely one such group; other definitions allow for multiple groups of death or for none at all.
The term is sometimes derided as a purely journalistic invention, a cliché or oversimplification based entirely on the unsportsmanlike notion that outcomes of such tournaments are largely predictable and that there are always underdogs, dark horses and top dogs.
The term "group of death" was coined (as Spanish "grupo de la muerte") by Mexican journalists for Group 3 of the 1970 FIFA World Cup. This featured reigning champions England, favourites and eventual champions Brazil, 1962 runners-up Czechoslovakia and Romania.
It was used again in Mexico for the second-phase Group C in the 1982 World Cup in Spain. This grouped defending champions Argentina, the eventual champions Italy and Brazil. In 2007, The Guardian called this the deadliest-ever Group of Death.
It was popularized after the draw for the 1986 World Cup, when Uruguay manager Omar Borrás so described Group E, which included Uruguay, West Germany, Denmark and Scotland. As with the 1970 group, this was the only one with all four teams from Europe and South America. The label was widely repeated by the English-language media. By the 1986 tournament rules, two or three of the four teams in each group would progress to the knockout phase; in the event, Scotland was the only team not to qualify from the prototypical "group of death". Uruguay were criticized for persistent foul play in the decisive match with Scotland; Borrás was suspended for retorting, "The Group of Death? Yes, there was a murderer on the field today. The referee."
Tournaments are often seeded to provide an even distribution of strong and weak competitors across all preliminary groups. However, in association football, the ranking methods used for seeding may be crude. In the World Cup, the usual strategy is for each group to contain one seeded team and three unseeded teams, the unseeded teams picked from separate regional confederations. Some CONCACAF, African and Asian teams are significantly stronger than others. The net result is that some groups may have stronger teams than others.
The reigning champion and the host nation or nations are traditionally among the seeds. In the case of UEFA Euro 2008, this meant three of the four seeds were among the weakest teams in the tournament: hosts Austria and Switzerland, and surprise 2004 champions Greece. 2006 World Cup finalists France and Italy were unseeded and ended up in Group C with Netherlands and Romania. This was considered a "group of death" with Romania as underdogs against three of Europe's top sides.
Even in competitions that give no seeding advantage to hosts or defending champions, "group of death" scenarios can still emerge. For example, the draw for the pools of the Rugby World Cup (union) primarily uses teams' positions in the World Rugby Rankings to determine placement in the "pots" for the draw. However, the draw has traditionally been held nearly three years before the competition. For example, the pool draw for the 2015 Rugby World Cup was held in December 2012. This led to the host team, England, being drawn into a pool that included traditional powers Australia and Wales, with only two teams able to advance to the knockout stage. Because Wales had gone winless in their November 2012 Tests, they had dropped to ninth in the rankings at the time of the draw. Australia were third and England fifth at the time, placing all three teams into separate pots. In August 2015, World Rugby CEO Brett Gosper told the Press Association that the body was seriously considering rescheduling the draw for future World Cups to be much closer in time to the competition. However, this change could not be implemented for the 2019 Rugby World Cup mainly because of the potential for ticketing clashes with the 2020 Summer Olympics, since Japan will host both events.
Debates and definitionsEdit
In the FIFA World Cup tournament proper, the UEFA European Championship and the UEFA Champions League, each preliminary group has four teams, two of which qualify for the knockout phase. Some sources imply all four teams must be in contention for a "group of death"; others allow for three teams fighting for two places, with one underdog making up the numbers. In the latter case, the term gains an additional facet from the expected "death" of the weak team: Ally McCoist and the Glasgow Herald described Euro 1992 Group B as the "Group of Certain Death" because Scotland were grouped with the Netherlands, Germany and the CIS. More extreme still, Ian Paul suggested semi-final Group B of the 1992–93 UEFA Champions League was a "group of death" for three of the four teams, with Milan almost sure to top the group and reach the final. (Milan did in fact win all six matches against IFK Göteborg, Porto and PSV.)
In the case of UEFA qualifying tournaments, groups have deeper seeding and always feature some weaker teams. For example, Qualifying Group B for Euro 2008 was dubbed the "group of death" in Scotland because Scotland were drawn against Italy, France and Ukraine, respectively champion, finalist, and quarter-finalist at the 2006 World Cup. The presence in the group of Lithuania, Georgia and the Faroe Islands did not contribute to the label.
It is often assumed that a tournament has precisely one Group of Death. In the 1994 World Cup, Group E (Italy, the Republic of Ireland, Mexico and Norway) was often given the label; Brazil head coach Carlos Alberto Parreira said it was Group B (Brazil, Russia, Cameroon and Sweden); some reporters suggested both were "groups of death".
On the other hand, after the draw for the 2010 World Cup finals, some commentators said there was no group of death. Sports Illustrated said Group G was the group of death because it had two of the top five nations in the FIFA World Rankings, Brazil and Portugal, as well as the second-ranked African team, Ivory Coast; it described fourth team North Korea as "unenviable underdog". On the other hand, Andrew Downie of the Christian Science Monitor said, "No self-respecting Group of Death would be caught dead with North Korea in it... As far as I'm concerned, there is no Group of Death in this World Cup." Spain manager Vicente del Bosque said of 2014 World Cup Group B, "We have to define it as complicated but I don't believe this is the Group of Death. There are others very hard. But our group is difficult."
The "Group of Death" may simply be the one with the strongest teams, or the most strong teams. Using FIFA World Rankings as a measure of the strength of the teams, The Guardian calculated in 2007 that the strongest "Group of Death" was Euro 1996 Group C. The teams (and world rankings) were Germany (2), Russia (3), Italy (7) and the Czech Republic (10). This record was exceeded by the May 2012 rankings for Euro 2012 Group B, with Germany (2), the Netherlands (4), Portugal (5) and Denmark (10), but not the June rankings immediately before the tournament (3, 4, 10 and 9 respectively) In women's football, 2007 World Cup Group B featured three of the top five teams in the FIFA Women's World Rankings entering the tournament – the United States (1), Sweden (3) and North Korea (5) – with Nigeria (24) being the "minnows".
There may be an emphasis on the "group of death" having a tight finish, with all four teams in contention. This was the case in Group F of the 1990 World Cup, in which five of the six matches were drawn, and in Group E of the 1994 World Cup, when all four teams finished level on points and goal difference.
However, the label is usually applied in anticipation of the tournament rather than in retrospect. Simon Burnton comments, "Inevitably, one of the big teams involved gets so scared about being in the Group of Death that they play really badly, meaning not only that they go home in disappointment and disgrace, but that the group turns out not to be so very troublesome after all.". David Lacey said, "Draws may nominate a group of death but results decide its real mortality rating. France and Argentina found this out in Japan." Lacey also said, "There are groups of death and groups of death wishes. In Euro 2000 Group D looked daunting but was shrugged aside by the Netherlands, the co-hosts, and France, the eventual champions, with the Czechs, runners-up in 1996, and the Danes, winners in 1992, offering scant resistance. Group A turned out to be the killer."
Lack of consensus about which is the group of death can fuel debates among fans and journalists. In the 2002 World Cup, The Guardian called Group F (Sweden, England, Argentina and Nigeria) "the group of death" and Group E (Germany, the Republic of Ireland, Cameroon and Saudi Arabia) "the other Group of Death". South Koreans called Group D (South Korea, United States, Portugal and Poland) the "Real Group of Death". In the 2006 World Cup, both Group C (Argentina, the Netherlands, Ivory Coast and Serbia and Montenegro) and Group E (Italy, Ghana, Czech Republic and the United States) were nominated as "group of death". In the 2014 World Cup, three groups were acknowledged in the media as "group of death": Group B (Spain, the Netherlands, Chile, Australia), Group D (Uruguay, Costa Rica, England and Italy), and Group G (Germany, Portugal, Ghana and the United States); Group G was considered especially difficult in the U.S., as they had been eliminated by its "weakest" team, Ghana, in each of the past two tournaments. In the 2018 World Cup, there were three groups that were considered groups of death: Group E (Brazil, Costa Rica, Serbia and Switzerland), Group F (reigning champions Germany, Mexico, South Korea and Sweden) and Group D (Argentina, Croatia, Nigeria and Iceland).
Fans may describe as the "group of death" any tough group which contains their favoured team. George Vecsey says, "In soccer, every nation always thinks it has been stiffed into the toughest pool, the Group of Death." In this sense, David Warren comments that a "top seeding in a finals group gives a country a good chance to advance and the best chance to avoid a so-called group of death".
The label "group of death" has been used in other sports than association football; for example:
- 1994 World Champs Group A; 2010 NCAA Men's Midwest Regional, 2014 NCAA Men's Midwest Regional, 2016 NCAA Men's East Regional
- Rugby union
- 1995 World Cup Pool B; 2001–02 Heineken Cup Pool 6 2003 World Cup Group A; 2011-12 Heineken Cup Pool 3 (Glasgow Warriors were drawn against reigning champions Leinster, a young Bath side and the best of the lowest-seeded teams Montpellier); 2007 World Cup Pool D;, 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool B and the 2015 Rugby World Cup Pool A, where Australia, hosts England and Wales were placed in the same group, being second, third and fourth respectively in the World Rugby rankings as of 21 September 2015.
- Paralympic association football
- 2012 Summer Paralympics 7-a-side Group B; 2016 Summer Paralympics 7-a-side Group A; 2016 Summer Paralympics 5-a-side Group B
- Rugby league
- 1995 World Cup Group 3; 2008 World Cup Group A The 2008 group was deliberately constructed by putting the top four seeds in one group, with three to qualify, to ensure more competitive matches in the first phase, and guarantee weaker sides a semi-final place.
- 2008 Twenty20 Cup North Division; 2009 World Twenty20 Group C;, 2012 World Twenty20 Super8 - Group 2
- Ice hockey
- 2010 Olympic men's qualifying group G.
"Group of death" has occasionally been used to characterise a qualifying group in some other way. The southern section preliminary round Group 5 of the 1990-91 Leyland DAF Cup had lowly teams replaying poorly-attended matches; after many postponements, Robert Pryce commented: "The Leyland Daf Cup Southern Section preliminary round's Group of Death has achieved almost total rigor mortis."
Scotland manager Andy Roxburgh described Euro 1992 qualifying Group 2 as a "group of death" in a different sense because of the lack of a glamorous opponent "to get people out of the house and into Hampden Park." The group combined Bulgaria, Romania, San Marino, Scotland, and Switzerland.
The Asian final qualifying group for the 1994 World Cup featured two sets of militantly hostile neighbours: Iran, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia; and North Korea, South Korea, and Japan. This was called the "group of death" for black humour.
A similar quip was made of the UEFA qualifying group 1 for the 1998 World Cup:
|“||The toughest group in the World Cup qualifying competition is the Group of Death. For the 1998 qualifiers, group one takes the title with ease. Bosnia, Croatia and Slovenia were drawn in group one. . . . There was, mercifully, no Serb-dominated rump Yugoslavia drawn in the same group. But there was, as far as the others are concerned, the next worse thing: the Greeks. They share the Orthodox religion with the Serbs, and give them strong diplomatic support. Pity Denmark, the reigning European champions, who make up the group.||”|
Occasionally, alternatives to "group of death" are proffered. Javier Clemente said of 1998 World Cup Group D, "This is not the group of death, as some people have said. It is the group of heart attacks" John Harrell said of 1994 World Cup Group E, "The characterization might be a bit harsh. Perhaps the 'Group of Surprises' is a better term."
Sometimes the excitement of a close contest between high-quality teams has suggested the positive "group of life" is more appropriate than "group of death". Of 2002 World Cup Group F, Paul Wilson said, "England's group is not so much the group of death as the group of life, for few others promise any drama" Of 2006 World Cup Group C, Gary Lineker said after Argentina's demolition of Serbia and Montenegro, "Argentina produced one of the great performances in recent World Cup history. The group of death has become the group of life."
However, "Group of Life" has also been used as the opposite of "Group of Death", to mean an easy group with weak teams: examples include 2002 World Cup Group H; 2006 World Cup UEFA qualifying Group 6; 2006 World Cup Group D; 2010 World Cup Group C;  and 2018 World Cup Group A.  Chuck Culpepper wrote of 2006 World Cup Group B, 'If each World Cup draw brings a "Group of Death," anointed for its incomparable rigor among the eight groups, England 2006 surely occupies the Group of Life, or the Group of Tranquillity, or the Group of So Few Worries We Spent All Day Yesterday Following the Metatarsal Melodrama Rather Than Worry About Trinidad and Tobago.' Radio Télévision Suisse said Switzerland was "far from being in a group of 'death'" when drawn in 2014 World Cup Group E. Polish-speaking media tend to refer to relatively tough and forgiving groups as grupa śmierci ("group of death") and grupa marzeń ("dream group") respectively.[original research?]
Before the UEFA Euro 2012 tournament draw, financial writer Chris Sloley coined the term "Group of Debt" for a possible group comprising PIIGS indebted countries; in the event, three of these (Spain, Italy and the Republic of Ireland) were grouped together with Croatia in Group C, while Greece and Portugal were in other groups.
"Group of Champions" has been used in the UEFA Champions League both for groups where all teams are former champions of that competition, and for groups where all teams are reigning domestic champions.
Notes and referencesEdit
- Pickstone, Jon; Ben Franklin (27 January 2006). "Groups of death, Chop Suey and other soccer clichés". The Limey. SI.com. Retrieved 4 December 2009.
- Paul, Ian (23 November 1992). "Dutch can live in the Milan 'Group of Death'". The Herald. Glasgow. p. 10.
If that notorious nickname of 1986, "The Group of Death," which was used to describe Scotland's section in the World Cup finals in Mexico, was the child of an over-enthusiastic hack, three of the teams in Group B of the Champions' League would consider it a mild moniker for their section.
- Lovejoy, Joe (21 December 1993). "Republic miss comfort zone; Germany's easy group ride makes them clear favourites". The Independent. London. p. 32.
American television, leaving no cliche unturned, promptly christened it the group of death.
- Harrell, John (16 June 1994). "Mix of talent, tactics make for most intriguing quartet". USA Today. p. 8C.
Many refer to Group E at this summer's World Cup as the "Group of Death." It's the strongest by far of the six four-team alignments, and at least one well-regarded team thus will not advance to the second round. The characterization might be a bit harsh. Perhaps the "Group of Surprises" is a better term.
- Hawkey, Ian (4 June 2006). "African dream lives in Ivory tower". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 4 December 2009.
The Group of Death has always been an ugly misnomer, although as every big tournament now seems obliged to identify its corpses early, the World Cup has to have one.[permanent dead link]
- Jenkins, Garry; Pedro Redig; Antonio Pires Soares (1998). The beautiful team: in search of Pelé and the 1970 Brazilians. Simon & Schuster. p. 22. ISBN 0-684-81955-4.
Saldanha had no argument with the journalists who quickly christened the Group of Death.
- Motson, John; Nick Brownlee (2006). Motson's World Cup Extravaganza. Robson. p. 171. ISBN 1-86105-936-1.
Group of Death - The term 'Group of Death' was first coined by the Mexican press in 1970 to describe Group 3
- "México 1970" (in Spanish). El Mercurio Online. Associated Press. 2002. Archived from the original on 13 October 2009. Retrieved 3 December 2009.
Se puede decir que el primer "Grupo de la Muerte" en la historia lo fue el 3
- "Futbol". Hispano Americano; semanario de la vida y la verdad (in Spanish). Mexico: Tiempo. 57: 66, 103. 1970.
- "Mundial". Razones (in Spanish). Mexico: Decanova (67): 59. 26 July 1982.
"Brazil: the unfinished samba". Previous FIFA World Cups. FIFA. 26 July 2005. Archived from the original on 7 December 2011. Retrieved 3 December 2009.
Only the top team in this group of death would qualify for the semi-finals.
- Ashdown, John; Alan Gardner; James Dart (12 December 2007). "The Knowledge: the deadliest group of death ever". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 December 2009.
- Lacey, David (7 June 2004). "Dial D for death: Three previous winners in one group is a sign of the times". The Guardian.
- Lacey, David (15 November 1988). "Robson landed with a flight of fancy; David Lacey on England's Concorde trip to Saudi Arabia for a friendly in the Gulf which stretches the credibility gap". The Guardian. p. 18.
Omar Borras, who managed the Uruguayans in the 1986 World Cup, went into the tournament remarking that their first-round draw with West Germany, Scotland and Denmark was "the group of death"
- "World Cup Briefs". United Press International. 19 May 1986.
West Germany will play in Group F, dubbed The Group of Death because of the strength of its four teams. The others are Uruguay, Scotland team and Denmark.
- Lief, Fred (22 May 1986). "World Cup Roundup". United Press International.
Uruguay is part of the demanding Group E — known as the Group of Death — along with West Germany, Denmark and Scotland.
- Chad, Norman (25 May 1986). "World's Eyes on Mexico: Month-Long Tournament Beginning May 31 Will Be Magnet for Hundreds of Million". Washington Post. p. B4.
Group E, comprising Denmark, Scotland, West Germany and Uruguay, has been labeled the "Group of Death" because of the strength of the teams.
- Brown, Brian (1 June 1986). "All the World Cup's a stage for soccer epic". San Diego Union-Tribune. p. H-1.
Group E (Queretaro, Nezahualcoyotl) This has come to be known as El Grupo de la Muerte (The Group of Death) because three of the top 10 teams are in it.
- Lief, Fred (14 June 1986). "Sports News". United Press International.
The game featured two teams from the Group of Death, so called because of the quality of the four squads. But the term assumed more sinister connotations as one tackle followed another.
- Warshaw, Andrew (24 June 1986). "Sports News". Associated Press.
Then there was Alex Ferguson of Scotland, whose team had the misfortune of competing with Denmark, West Germany and Uruguay in what became known as the "Group of Death."
- Lacey, David (9 December 1999). "Soccer: Nobody gets to be drawn until the fat guy sings - The Eternal City on the hopes, fears and ephemera surrounding this afternoon's World Cup lucky dip". The Guardian. London.
The Scots would be extremely unlucky to get a 1990 equivalent of Mexico's 'Group of death' when they found themselves facing Uruguay, West Germany and Denmark.
- Gardner, Paul (1994). The simplest game: the intelligent fan's guide to the world of soccer (2nd ed.). Collier. p. 96. ISBN 0-02-043225-9.
- Wilson, Paul (2 December 2001). "It's the Group of Life". The Observer. Retrieved 3 December 2009.
- "FIFA World Cup Draw History" (PDF). FIFA.
- Wagman, Robert (24 June 2006). "FIFA must examine World Cup policies". SoccerTimes. Nuremberg. Archived from the original on 17 December 2009. Retrieved 4 December 2009.
- "Domenech fumes over potential Euro 2008 'group of death'". The Guardian. 30 November 2007. Retrieved 3 December 2009.
- McCarra, Kevin (3 December 2007). "Domenech fury after France draw Italy in group of death". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 December 2009.
- Reuters (2 December 2007). "Euro 2008 - France to meet Italy in Group of Death". Eurosport. Archived from the original on 13 December 2007. Retrieved 3 December 2009.
Romania are the unlucky team to be in Group C, the inevitable "Group of Death"
- Opik, Lembit (27 May 2008). "Help us choose our Euro 2008 team". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 December 2009.
We should back the underdog - Romania is in the group of death with France, Italy and the Netherlands, and they need all the help they can get.
- "Rugby World Cup bosses will try to avoid 'pool of death' scenarios". ESPN (UK). Press Association. 19 August 2015. Retrieved 20 August 2015.
- Bartlett, Rob (3 November 2015). "How the 2020 Olympic Games will affect the 2019 Rugby World Cup". ESPN (UK). Retrieved 13 November 2015.
- "Tie with Italy gives Mexico top spot in 'group of death'; tying Norway, Charlton's Ireland team also advances". Mercury News. San Jose. 29 June 1994. p. 6F.
Group E was the "Group of Death," a group with no weaklings, a group in which any of the four teams could, on a given day, beat any other.
- Chapman, Doug (28 June 1994). "Ireland will play short-handed in key match against Norway". Journal-Bulletin. Providence. p. 3B.
Group E - dubbed the "Group of Death" because of its top-to-bottom competitiveness
- "Who's afraid of the Group of Death?". FIFA. 2 December 2009. Archived from the original on 5 December 2009. Retrieved 4 December 2009.
Powell, Jeff (16 June 1992). "Scotland head home with heads held high Breath of fresh air in an event choked by fear". Daily Mail. London. p. 42.
We've jumped out of what they called the group of death in 1986 into the group of certain death.
- Traynor, James (8 June 1992). "Let's be brave and add a touch of arrogance to our challenge". The Herald. Glasgow. p. 8.
It was said before Scotland's participation in the finals of the 1986 World Cup that, having been drawn with Denmark, Germany and Uruguay, they had been placed in the Group of Death, but this time it could be said they are in the Group of Certain Death.
- Fifield, Dominic (28 January 2006). "Smith rues fall-out of Scotland slump in group of death". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 December 2009.
a tough Euro 2008 qualifying group which will see his side face France, Italy and Ukraine
- Leigh, John; David Woodhouse (2006). Football Lexicon (revised ed.). London: Faber and Faber. p. 90. ISBN 0-571-23052-0.
Group of Death: A regular visitor to the language of football, this nice piece of hyperbole appears whenever World Cup draws are held, but can make an intermediate appearance at European Championships or other regional tournaments too. It is so familiar that commentators promptly debate which of the groups drawn might be the Group of Death, as though it were a title which has to be assigned to one of them
- Bell, Jack (4 June 2008). "Euro 2008: The Group of Death". Goal. New York Times. Retrieved 4 December 2009.
Every soccer tournament has one
- Vecsey, George (22 June 2006). "Simple Math for U.S.: Victory Is Only Option". New York Times. Retrieved 4 December 2009.
Reyna ... has maintained all along that the Americans were drawn into this year's Group of Death at the World Cup, even though Argentina and the Netherlands were drawn together in a different group. And the tangled results in the United States' group seem only to prove his point. ... The group is the only one of the eight four-team clusters to have all four teams in contention entering the final games.
- Vecsey, George (10 December 2005). "Sports of The Times; With Field Fleshed Out, Now the Blood Starts to Boil". New York Times. Retrieved 4 December 2009.
By definition, every World Cup draw must have a Group of Death, a phrase translated into virtually every language — the Todesgruppe, they were calling it around here.
Mulligan, Mike; Diether Endlicher (17 July 1994). "Battle of the Titans; Brazil, Italy Still Tower Over Rest of the World". Sun-Times. Chicago. p. 18.
The draw with Mexico left the Italians in third place in the so-called Group of Death.
Haydon, John (3 July 1994). "First-round games full of goals and upsets". Washington Times. Washington. p. C8.
Group E, otherwise known as the "Group of Death," lived up to its name. All four teams in the group - Mexico, Ireland, Italy and Norway - had a 1-1-1 record and four points each.
- O'Shea, Suzanne (29 June 1994). "Jackie's Heroes march to glory; Republic goes wild over World Cup success". Daily Mail. London. p. 1.
Group E, dubbed the 'group of death' because of the high calibre of its teams.
- Mifflin, Lawrie (28 June 1994). "Death on the World Cup Express". New York Times. New York. p. B10.
the traditional nickname, "Group of Death"
- Reid, Scott M. (25 June 1994). "Mexico tops Ireland; Group E deadlocked All four teams have 3 points in 'Group of Death'". Journal and Constitution. Atlanta. p. D14.
The danger of Group E was recognized as soon as it was announced at the tournament draw last December. Italy, Ireland, Norway and Mexico were immediately dubbed members of "The Group of Death." The name stuck.
- Reusse, Patrick (20 June 1994). "Uff da: Norway on quite a roll". Star Tribune. Minneapolis. p. 1C.
There are six first-round groups in the World Cup tournament. It has been a tournament tradition to look at the assignments and to refer to one of the six as the "Group of Death."
- Alfano, George (5 June 1994). "U.S. tops Mexico before 91,123". Press Enterprise. Riverside. p. C7.
Mexico will play in the World Cup's Group E, which includes Italy, Ireland and Norway and is known as the "Group of Death" because three teams are ranked among the top 15 in the world.
- Luxbacher, Joe (17 April 1994). "Here's World Cup team groupings". Post-Gazette. Pittsburgh. p. C2.
Group E: Italy, Ireland, Norway, Mexico. Probably the toughest group. Some analysts already are calling it the group of death, as all four teams are capable of advancing to the later rounds.
- Ziegler, Mark (19 January 1994). "Fiesta expected tonight for soccer doubleheader". Union-Tribune. San Diego. p. D-1.
Some are calling it the "Group of Death," if only because at most three of the four can advance to the second round. Meaning: At least one of them won't.
- Shane, Jeff (20 December 1993). "Group E: 'Group of Death'". United Press International.
Already, it's being labeled the Group of Death. Group E contains three of the top 10 teams in the current world ratings — No. 2 Italy, No. 4 Norway and No. 10 Ireland. Meanwhile, Mexico won the CONCACAF Gold Cup over the summer and made a very good showing at the Copa America.
- "Brazil drawn in a 'group of death', says coach Parreira". Las Vegas: Xinhua. 19 December 1993.
Brazil were drawn in the world cup group which coach Carlos Alberto Parreira called 'the group of death'. Brazil plays Russia, Cameroon and Sweden in Group B."
- AAP (21 December 1993). "Cup draw cruel for top guns". Courier-Mail. p. 35.
There is always one "group of death" in soccer's World Cups. In the US next year there may be two. making Brazil's Group B and Italy's Group E potentially the toughest.
"Cup 'groups of death'". Herald Sun. Associated Press. 21 December 1993.
TWO "groups of death" emerged from the Nevada desert in yesterday's soccer World Cup draw. [...] The draw made Brazil's Group B and Italy's Group E the toughest.
- Stevenson, Jonathan (4 December 2009). "World Cup draw & reaction as it happened". BBC Sport. BBC. Retrieved 13 December 2009.
- Pedroncelli, Peter; Clyde Tlou. "Gavin Hunt Bemoans 'Tough' Draw For South Africa". Goal.com. Retrieved 13 December 2009.
He believes that there is no Group of Death but singled out Group G as a major battlefield.
- "2010: Group G: Brazil/North Korea/Ivory Coast/Portugal". Groups of Death in World Cup History. Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 26 June 2010.
- Downie, Andrew (15 June 2010). "How can the Group of Death include North Korea?". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 26 June 2010.
- "Spain not in 'Group of Death', insists Del Bosque". Football Federation Australia. 7 December 2013. Archived from the original on 16 December 2013. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
- Wilson, Paul (11 December 2005). "An easy group? Draw your own conclusions". The Observer. Retrieved 3 December 2009.
- Steinberg, Jacob (6 June 2012). "The Knowledge: Euro 2012 special, part one". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
- "Spain still No. 1 in FIFA rankings". ESPN.com. Associated Press. 6 June 2012. Archived from the original on 8 June 2012. Retrieved 8 June 2012.
- "Euro 2012 Group B: Bosses react to 'Group of Death' - Yahoo! Eurosport UK". Uk.eurosport.yahoo.com. Archived from the original on 8 April 2012. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
- Ruibal, Sal (12 September 2007). "USA's group tied in knots after World Cup openers". USA Today. Retrieved 17 December 2009.
At the 2007 FIFA Women's World Cup, they call Group B the Group of Death because its quartet of high-ranked and unpredictable teams are capable of defeating any opponent. . . . But after Tuesday's pair of gloomy, rain-drenched opening ties [i.e. draws], Group B has suddenly become sudden death.
- Hays, Graham (23 April 2007). "U.S. women face Group of Death scenario again". ESPNsoccernet. Archived from the original on 25 May 2011. Retrieved 17 December 2009.
- Jones, Stuart (14 June 1990). "Speculation not for Robson". The Times. Cagliari.
The Group of Death, as the Italians call the World Cup group confined to the islands of Sardinia and Sicily, promises to come to the most dramatic conclusion of the first round. The four teams are inseparable and, whatever the results this weekend, the permutations cannot be fully unravelled until the closing fixtures on June 21.
- Burnton, Simon (21 March 2009). "Forget Death – what about a Group of Poop?". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 December 2009.
- Collins, Roy (19 June 2000). "Milosevic breathes life into the group of death". The Guardian. p. A5. Retrieved 3 December 2009.
People love talking about groups of death at European Championships, World Cups and even the Champions League.
- "World Cup 2002: Russia's group". The Guardian. 2 December 2001. Retrieved 3 December 2009.
Compared to England's group of death, this [sc. Group H] is a group of life.
- "Mr Prospector" (26 May 2002). "Best bets: stick with France and ignore the buzz". The Guardian. p. 8 (Sport).
- Brodkin, Jon (11 June 2002). "Korea get attack of the jitters after Friedel frustrates". The Guardian. pp. D10–11. Retrieved 3 December 2009.
- Walker, Michael (10 June 2006). "Kezman's inside knowledge of Holland may see Serbs strike fatal blow in Group of Death". The Guardian. Leipzig. Retrieved 3 December 2009.
No World Cup is complete without either a Group of Death or a sticker album, and Group C delivers both items
- Kelso, Paul (10 December 2005). "Argentina join the Dutch in group of death". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 December 2009.
- Jackson, Jamie (6 December 2013). "World Cup 2014 draw: Spain and Holland in 'group of death'". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 December 2013.
- Gibson, Owen (6 December 2013). "World Cup 2014: England to kick off 'group of death' in the jungle". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 December 2013.
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- Mendola, Nicholas (6 December 2013). "World Cup 2014 Groups of Death: From Deadly to Deadliest". NBC Sports. Retrieved 6 December 2013.
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China was 17th at Barcelona and slotted in what coach Jiang Xingquan calls the group of death, against three teams China has never bested.
- Wilbon, Michael (16 March 2010). "Tiger Woods at the Masters return, NCAA Tournament, NBA and more". The Chat House with Michael Wilbon. Washington Post. Retrieved 27 March 2010.
Georgetown and Maryland, of course, is in that Group of Death Midwest region where you've got Tennessee, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Michigan State, a totally known but damn good Iowa State team. Why the NCAA Tournament would stack the region where the overall No. 1 is I don't know
- Degerman, Eric (17 March 2010). "My chalky bracket ends in Jayhawk". Rub of the Green. Tri-City Herald. Archived from the original on 29 February 2012. Retrieved 27 March 2010.
the Midwest bracket, dubbed "The Group of Death" by those who follow World Cup soccer
- Katz, Andy (16 March 2014). "Bracket winners and losers". Men's College Basketball Blog. ESPN.com. Retrieved 17 March 2014.
The Shockers did earn a No. 1 seed with an undefeated season. But they were given the "Group of Death" bracket with No. 8 Kentucky (if it gets past Kansas State), No. 4 Louisville, No. 3 Duke and No. 2 Michigan. Wow.
- Forde, Pat (14 March 2016). "16 things to know about the NCAA East Region, plus who wins". Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved 17 March 2016.
Toughest of the four [regions]. Three teams won a major-conference title. Five teams are in the Pomeroy Ratings top 15. This is your group of death.
- "In Brief". Herald Sun. Australia. 22 May 1995.
Carling insists that England's pool is "the group of death", rather than the section containing Australia, South Africa, Canada and Romania which already has been given that lurid tag
- Palmer, Bryn (1 October 2001). "Falcons' fatal blow in Group of Death". The Guardian. p. A21.
- O'Driscoll, Brian (7 October 2003). "A man born to take centre stage". The Guardian. p. 32.
[Ireland] are in the so-called Group of Death with Argentina and the host nation.
- Ruddock, Alan (2 September 2007). "Let the beauty of rugby shine out in France". The Observer. Retrieved 3 December 2009.
If Ireland is in the inevitable group of death alongside France and Argentina, then England's is the group of attrition
- Cheika, Michael; Leonard, Jason (7 September 2007). "Is this Ireland's moment?". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 December 2009.
- "London 2012 Paralympics: Great Britain seven-a-side footballers drawn in 'Group of Death' at Games". Retrieved 12 September 2016.
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- Davies, Jonathan (8 October 1995). "Death or Glory!". Sunday Mirror. p. 65.
Wales tackle France in our opening fixture in what has chillingly been dubbed the Group of Death.
- W, R (28 September 2008). "The briefing: The Rugby League World Cup, 25 October - 22 November". The Observer. Retrieved 3 December 2009.
'A' is the group of death - Australia, New Zealand, England and Papua New Guinea
- Collomosse, Andrew (5 May 2008). "Lancashire's Steven Croft has perfect timing". Daily Telegraph. Old Trafford. Retrieved 4 December 2009.
- Collins, Nick Published (10 June 2009). "World Twenty20 Super Eights guide: West Indies". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 4 December 2009.
Having survived the “group of death” in the opening round, the West Indies find themselves in a similar position at the super eight stage
- Klein, Jeff Z. (7 February 2009). "European Puck: Germany to the 2010 Olympics". Slap shot. New York Times. Retrieved 4 December 2009.
Meanwhile in Group G at Oslo — the hotly contested “Group of Death”
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- Glenn, Patrick (13 November 1991). "Roxburgh sure of delivery - Group Two: Scotland v San Marino". The Guardian. London.
I called this the group of death because there wasn't a big country to brighten it, to capture the imagination, to get people out of the house and into Hampden Park. Romania and Bulgaria have outstanding talents but they are not a draw. The Swiss are the same, emergent and improving, but not attractive. A France, an Italy, a Germany, even an England in our case, was needed to lift the thing. But we have one last chore and the Scotland team I wanted is here.
Minshull, Phil (1 December 1993). "Saudi soccer success in Qatar". The Middle East. Saudi Arabia (N229): 40. ISSN 0305-0734.
Western commentators dubbed the 13 day tournament in Qatar the "Group of Death" since fate had brought together six potentially volatile elements.
Fraser, Alan (22 October 1993). "The mother of all wars and the father of all football matches? Let's wait and see". Daily Mail. London. p. 78.
The Iraq and Iran footballers have been breakfasting together, chatting even, part of a bizarre logistical cocktail in which the so-called 'group of death' - also including Saudi Arabia, North and South Korea and Japan - have been billeted in the same hotel.
- Kesterton, Michael (21 October 1993). "Social Studies". The Globe and Mail. Canada.
The six have been nicknamed the Group of Death, writes Mark Skipworth in The Sunday Times of London. Three of the six - Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia - have recently been at war and two others - North and South Korea - have never officially ended their state of conflict. (The sixth team is from Japan.)
- Mullin, John (13 December 1995). "It's War: World Cup squares up for the battle of the Balkans". The Guardian. p. 1.
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"Sudden death in group of life". Irish Examiner. 23 June 2006. Retrieved 3 December 2009.
what had turned out to be the World Cup’s Group Of Life. The supporters of all four competing nations would have woken up in various cities in Germany yesterday morning with dreams of further glory in their minds.[permanent dead link]
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"Group H in detail". Scotland On Sunday. 19 May 2002. Retrieved 3 December 2009.
Tipped to make it through to the knockout stages in only their second World Cup thanks to a very favourable draw into the ‘Group of Life’
- Lawton, James (13 October 2005). "Rooney's lurking brilliance fails to instil hope of better times for England at the Big Show". The Independent. Retrieved 3 December 2009.
a qualifying pool so benignly unthreatening it might have been known as the Group of Life
- Swann, Alan (June 2006). "We could be in for a Ruud awakening". Peterborough Today. Retrieved 3 December 2009.
If Group C is the 'Group of Death' then this is the 'Group of Life'
- Hayward, Paul (4 December 2009). "Lucky England secure place in 'group of life' in football 2010 World Cup draw". The Guardian. United Kingdom. Retrieved 5 December 2009.
Lucky England secure place in 'group of life' in football 2010 World Cup draw
- Lee, Samantha (2 December 2017). "Charts show that Russia's World Cup group is unlike the others". Business Insider. United Kingdom. Retrieved 10 June 2018.
there is what some are calling the Group of Life and, coincidentally, it features the host nation, Russia. As for Russia's Group A, those four teams add up to a combined ranking of 180, 77 more than any other group.
- Culpepper, Chuck (15 June 2006). "Getting the Group Rate on Life and Death". LA Times. Retrieved 3 December 2009.
- "Groupe mi-figue mi-raisin pour la Suisse, qui retrouve la France" (in French). Radio Télévision Suisse. 6 December 2014. Retrieved 23 June 2014.
La Suisse se retrouve, en effet, dans le groupe E qui est très loin de s'apparenter à un groupe de la "mort".
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"England pay for past failures". Daily Telegraph. 28 November 2001. Archived from the original on 21 April 2013. Retrieved 3 December 2009.
the Mexicans also gave a title to 1986's Group Six. England, Poland, Portugal and Morocco, the locals in Monterrey were fond of saying, was the `Group of Sleep'.
- Rich, Tim (24 June 2004). "Lisbon evokes mixture of memories". The Independent. Retrieved 3 December 2009.
the dreadfully dull "Group of Sleep"
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- Das, Andrew (29 August 2013). "German and British Teams Grouped Together in Champions League". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
Barcelona is in what amounts to a Group of Champions with A.C. Milan, Ajax Amsterdam and Glasgow Celtic; those four clubs have combined for 16 European championships.; "UEFA Champions League-Group stage draw-Monaco". UEFA. 29 August 2013. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
Johan Cruyff on AFC Ajax, who will play AC Milan, FC Barcelona and Celtic FC in Group H: "It’s a fantastic thing for football that these clubs get drawn against other. It’s another group of champions ..."
- "Group of champions pairs Manchester City and Real Madrid". CNN. 30 August 2012. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
The "Group of Death" contains all champions of their respective leagues with Dortmund claiming the Bundesliga title for the second straight year and Ajax winning the Dutch crown.; "Champions League draw: The experts' verdict". Goal.com. 29 August 2013. Retrieved 12 July 2016.
It's not quite the Group of champions that was so disastrous last season
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- Samantha Lee and Cork Gaines (2 December 2017). "Charts show Russia's World Cup group is unlike the others". Business Insider. Retrieved 10 June 2018.