So, who's your money on for the World Cup seeds?
South Africa are guaranteed, and it's almost certain we'll see Brazil, Spain, Germany and Italy, and probably Argentina
The others are of course us, and the Dutch - that's the top seven ranked teams as at October
Personally I think we should be fine, previously FIFA used the past two world cup performances and ranking - which means we'll be fine, if it's ranking alone then again, we'll be fine, if last
They shouldn't use Euro 2008, which is our black mark, as it's too complicated to use regional tournaments, so on balance, we are quite likely to be a group leader
The Dutch, 3rd in the world, are in fact the most precariously placed team - should FIFA choose to use the previous world cups then they will almost certainly miss out, as they didn't qualify in 2002 and were knocked out in the second round in 2006 (remember that Portugal game?)
And so this is why conventional wisdom leads me to believe this years seeds will be heavily based on rank - you can't have your third best team replaced by France simply because they got to the 2006 final and have since been utter rubbish - people won't be happy (especially the Irish, who were already stung by some dodgy French seeding)
Of course, were this England, I wouldn't be half as optimistic and would naturally assume FIFA favoured les bleus over us, but the position of the Dutch gives us some nice high ground to watch from - I do think in this case FIFA will manipulate the system to include the Dutch, who are a far superior side to the French at the moment - there's nothing to gain from not using the rankings, as there's nobody worth excluding (like, say, the US)
But what it will prove is that there's absolutely no fair play when it comes to the seedings, FIFA regularly change the system, just like they do for hosting choices, to suit their own desired outcome, just because I happen to agree with the agenda this time doesn't make it right
So if we are in the seeds, we are still going to have to be careful of France or the Netherlands (and Portugal) regardless, although I'd rather avoid Spain the most, and France don't have Zidane to save them this time
In incredibly fanciful news - we want group B on Friday, as we will play group A in the second round, which should be the weakest group as it's headed by South Africa - although of course, if we come second and get someone like Portugal then maybe not...
Just hurry up and do it, too many permutations!
edit: what I neglected to mention was that FIFA may also use an average of rank since the 2006 world cup - which would see us miss out by one place
I will save my anger at this potential decision until it actually happens (ie. suddenly deciding that rank is important means friendlies are important, hardly fair after you've played (lost) them)