A little while after the draw was actually made, but there was important factors like a City game to write about that has delayed some analysis of the draw for the World Cup groups.
Not likely to be many City players on show in Germany next summer, with only Claudio Reyna guaranteed a place in his countries squad at this stage. I think it is highly likely that David James will go as back-up to Paul Robinson (before calling it quits on the international stage) and I suppose there is an outside chance Darius Vassell may make, although he seems to have fallen well down the pecking order over the last eighteen-months. Perhaps Stuart Pearce was also a little hopeful when he also mentioned Trevor Sinclair could make a late run at the squad.
Elsewhere, Sun-Jihai misses out with China this time but Paulo Wanchope should be there with Costa Rica to encapsulate his City career in one tournament - a crazy display of his skill, hair-tearing frustration followed by an injury.
Hmm, the hosts offered a tough draw eh? Even a German side not as powerful as ones in the past should have no trouble with this group. Despite being ranked 21st and 37th respectively, neither Costa Rica or Ecuador should threaten this group although Paulo Wanchope may fancy his chances of sneaking through should Poland throw this opportunity away.
Trinidad & Tobago
Get the bunting ready and book the parade to celebrate England winning the World Cup as unsuprisingly, the media have wet themselves over this draw. Paraguay and Trinidad & Tobago should pose no threat to either England or Sweden, leaving the final game as a battle to avoid facing Germany in the last sixteen.
Serbia & Montenegro
The designated Group of Death. Argentina and Holland are among the heavily backed favourites, although both have been unpredictable in recent tournaments. Serbia & Montenegro could be a suprise package, having beaten out Spain to win their qualification. Ivory Coast feature Didier Drogba and Kolo toure but their ranking of 41 looks to be a touch high.
Possibly the easiest group of all, with Iran and Angola two of the poorest sides in the tournament. Mexico again strolled through their qualification group but will struggle as soon as they come up against one of the better sides. Portugal should cruise this group with ease.
Depending on how Ghana and USA shape up, this could be a tighter one than Group C. USA finally came of age in the 2002 finals, whilst Ghana are being touted as the strongest African qualifier. Czech Republic are a talented side who are capable of making the quarter-finals and Italy have improved over the last twelve months and will hope to put the Euro 2004 performance behind them.
Brazil will comfortably cruise through this group, leaving the remaining three sides to battle out for second place. Croatia must be favourites on paper but Australia and Japan look to be the stronger of the 3rd and 4th seeded sides and fancy one of those two sides to edge the Croatians out.
Togo will surely be returning home with no points with them. France's qualification was a struggle and they had to beg for the return of Zidane, Makelele and Thuram to help them through. It should be enough for them to get through this group and well beyond. South Korea will hope to continue their performance from the 2002 finals, although how they fare away from their home turf will be key. Switzerland will battle them for second but will not get beyond the last sixteen if they do.
Even Spain couldn't cock this group up, and it may lead to many believing that this one could 'Spains tournament'. Shevchenko finally gets to play in the World Cup and will be eagerly anticipating destroying the defences of Saudia Arabia and Tunisia. They may even push Spain close for first place whilst Tunisia and Saudia Arabia will disappear without trace.