Group of Death in Sports (Explained)


After the commencement of the multi-tournament, the teams with potential players make sure that their team gets qualified. A Group in a tournament can become the “Group of Death” when the number of strong teams in it is higher than the number of places available for the next round of the tournament. Hence in the group phase, one or more strong contenders who are thought to be favorites to win the tournament are eliminated.

This term was informal before but, is now used in association football tournaments and also in many other sports. Several discussions are made after the drawn match in a tournament by previewing the preliminary round and finally, the most appropriate group with strong contenders is given the ‘Group of Death’ title.

What Defines a Strong Team?

Every game, every team has a strong player. A player is termed as a ‘strong player’ on the basis of various quality like his ability to judge the opponent’s next move, to find a short yet effective way to finish the game, to tackle the last minute pressure, to understand the responsibility that comes with the fame, and many more. It becomes difficult for a team to compete and win against a strong team with multiple strong players.

Seeding a Team

Tournaments and leagues are played by numerous teams that are put together in groups and competed. Groups are formed using the strategy of combining one strong and three weak teams. Initially, most of the teams are seeded (given a source number) and randomly distributed. The host nations and the champions of the former league or tournament come under the seeded category. The teams that are unseeded are now picked and clubbed with the seeded team. While doing this some groups may end up having more strong teams than other groups in the tournament.

In 2018 FIFA World Cup Group D is considered to be Group Of Death

Group of Death in Football

In a football tournament, the matches are fixed based upon the number of teams participating. To ensure that every group has evenly distributed potential players, a count is maintained. If it is a 16-team tournament then a score of 34 has to be balanced among all the groups. If it is a 32-team tournament then the count should be 50.

Considering the 2018 FIFA World cup, it is almost in its final moments and as per the statistics and perceptions, Group D can be featured as the ‘group of death’. Group D has the following strong teams:

Iceland is playing in the world cup for the first time with remarkable and distinguishable players. Though they have not made up to the finals, they gave their best to taste the flavor of satisfaction by qualifying the preliminary rounds.

Croatia is titled as one of the best technical teams in Europe with professional players like Luka Modric and Mario Mandzukic. Croatia has performed extraordinarily well in the world cup 2018 making it stand as one among the tough contenders.

Argentina: The team with Lionel Messi, who is known for his timely goals will be the most favored to win the trophy. Argentina has won the world cup twice and has never failed to prove their capability during tough knockouts.

Nigeria is one of the toughest teams in Africa, who reached the last 16 of the tournament on three occasions. The well-coordinated team with Ahmed Musa who is a strong forward player has the scope of reaching finals.

There are other groups also which may be considered as the ‘group of death’ with equal potential and strength. Group D is one of the most favored and strong groups among the others.

Group of Death matches create a lot of excitement in very earlier stages of the event

Group of Death in FIFA World Cup

  • 1982 FIFA World Cup: Group C (Argentina, Brazil & Italy)
  • 1994 FIFA World Cup: Group E (Italy, Republic of Ireland, Mexico & Norway)
  • 2006 FIFA World Cup: Group C (Argentina, Netherlands, Ivory Coast & Serbia & Montenegro)
  • 2014 FIFA World Cup: Group B (Spain, Netherlands, Chile & Australia) and Group D (England, Italy, Uruguay & Costa Rica)
  • 2018 FIFA World Cup: Group D (Iceland, Croatia, Argentina, and Nigeria)

Group of Death in Other Sports


In the FIBA Asia cup 2017, group C snatched away the title ‘Group of death’ at ease. The group was made of the New Zealand, Lebanon, Korea, and the Kazakhstan team. Each team was known for its own specialty in the field of play.

The New Zealand team is one among the top twenty sides. The team is also called as the Oceania powerhouse and has energetic players who leave no stone unturned to win the match.

Lebanon was the host team who took the game a notch higher by performing their best. With Fadi El Khatib in their team, the team gave a bang on gameplay as their comeback.

Korea is the fifth highest ranked country in Asia with the top seasoned players like Kim SunHyung and Kim JongKyu.

The Kazakhs also were known as the snow leopards, have experienced players like Rustam Murzagaliev, Anatoly Kolesnikov. The other teams were also challenging and equally good with their capacity to give a tough competition.

Group of Death in other Basketball tournaments:

  • 1994 FIBA World Champs: Group A
  • 2010 NCAA Men’s Midwest Regional
  • 2014 NCAA Men’s Midwest Regional
  • 2016 NCAA Men’s East Regional

Ice Hockey

The teams Norway, Denmark, France and Kazakhstan of group G, were tagged as the ‘Group of death’ in the men’s tournament in ice hockey at the 2010 Winter Olympics Qualifying. The tournament took place in Vancouver, British Columbia. All four teams have established players. They were undoubtedly given the title, as the strong competitors of each team were strong enough to knock out the opponent teams.

Did we miss any famous Group of Death scenarios? Let us know in the comments below.


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