Yesterday I commented here that for me the truth of these draws lies in what you get from the third pot. I speak, of course, from the perspective of Spain, who are generally seeded or, in a bad case, are in Pot 2. Since two qualify, the problem is not how strong the 'other good one' in the group is, which in this case is Germany, but what comes next. And what we got from the third was Japan.
Looking beyond that, to the fourth one, where there is rarely anything to worry about, things got better, with the winner of the New Zealand-Costa Rica play-off joining us. That will be our opening match. And though we always say there's no easy game…
No World Cup ‘Group of Death’
So the early shock of being drawn against our bogeymen in Pot 2 faded quickly afterwards. We then consider the prospect of the first knockout, with Group F, which consists of Belgium, Morocco, Croatia and Canada. Not such a bad one. What will be, will be, but we can't complain. Overall it was a draw whereby the strong sides were sufficiently diluted that there was no 'group of death', a tradition in these tournaments.
The only five-star match of the first phase will be that of Spain-Germany (second group matchday), but at this stage it is difficult to think that it will serve any purpose other than to decide who will be first and second.
Infantino never likely to call out friend Putin
As for the rest of proceedings, it was a simple enough event, in my opinion, with two speeches, from Infantino and the emir, which did not go beyond brief welcomes. Infantino's call for 'dialogue' was regrettable. He is a friend of Putin's and, of course, he was not going to ask him to pull his tanks out of Ukraine and pay for everything he has destroyed.
The only word that rang out loud and clear at this time in Doha was that of the president of the Norwegian Federation, who stirred consciences with her plea. But even so, I am convinced that a World Cup is an injection of universality that can only serve to correct the manifestly improvable customs and habits of that country.