Fully Seeded: A (Men's Football) World Cup Timelime


In 2018, Michel Platini gave an interview in which he admitted that the draw for the World Cup of twenty years earlier had been slightly rigged.

The disgraced ex-UEFA president admitted that ‘a little trickery’ had been employed to ensure that the hosts France and the defending champs Brazil were kept apart until the final, assuming they’d won their groups of course. The fact that Platini had been banned from involvement in the sport following the corruption scandal of three years earlier meant that, in all honesty, it wasn’t that surprising an admission.

And besides, France 98 had been such a good tournament that no-one minded all that much really.

However, Platini had another admission to make, one that, many believe, might’ve proven a bit more seismic for the future of the tournament…

In order to decide which teams should be seeded for the tournament, FIFA had devised a rather complicated system based on how the teams competing had fared in the three previous tournaments and their FIFA rankings at the time. It was a rather tricky system to get the hang of, but it was used for the 2002 and 2006 tournaments as well before being abandoned in favour of just FIFA rankings.

The original plan was that the top seven teams plus hosts France would be seeded into the top pot, and the rest of the teams would then be divided into three others based on their continents, similar to the draws for the previous tournaments. It would’ve been simple and efficient, except that Europe would’ve had nine non-seeded teams, so a leftover team would’ve been put in the pot with the Asian and leftover South American teams and drawn into either Brazil or Argentina’s groups.

However, Platini revealed, just before the draw procedure was about to be finalised, someone spoke up:

“What’s the point in having this elaborate seeding system if you’re just gonna seed a quarter of the teams? Why not seed the whole thing?”

He didn’t say who it was; for all we know, it might’ve been the tea boy. The fact he didn’t name them indeed seems to imply it wasn’t someone whose opinion would normally be taken seriously.

Whoever it was, their words seemed to resonate with him and the rest of the event organisers, enough to give a slight reconsideration to their plans.

And so, when the draw for the tournament finally took place on the 4th of December 1997, the teams were indeed divided into four pots based entirely on their seedings in the system.

1998 Seedings.PNG

The 32-team era of the men’s football World Cup had officially begun…

to be continued…


Greetings again friends, and welcome to my new TL!

This is something I've been doing for some time: redrawing the World Cups with the teams grouped in their rankings rather than continentally. I was doing this for a while before, a few weeks ago, with my old TL winding down, I decided to just do it and record the results and post them on here!

So, we'll be running through the five World Cups from 98 to 2014 in this style. Then, when we get to 2018, we'll be having a bit of fun; more will be revealed in due course. In the meantime, tune back in next Wednesday to see how things play out in France...
Going to be interesting to see how well Scotland does in TTL. At least we won't have to suffer the Morocco embarrassment here...
Interesting concept - it's amazing how Platini was able to piss away every single drop of the reputation he'd built up as a player with his metamorphosis into an astonishingly corrupt chairman. IMO, FIFA as a whole should be carpet nuked from orbit and rebuilt.
Interesting concept - it's amazing how Platini was able to piss away every single drop of the reputation he'd built up as a player with his metamorphosis into an astonishingly corrupt chairman. IMO, FIFA as a whole should be carpet nuked from orbit and rebuilt.
Agreed. Shame too; he was a class player.
Watched. Really interesting idea. Very eager to see how this unfolds. I thought I had discovered all such curious 'what ifs' for international tournaments, but thankfully not.

Do you know if the seeding was similarly skewed for the Euros as well? If so, I would love to explore that scenario.
Watched. Really interesting idea. Very eager to see how this unfolds. I thought I had discovered all such curious 'what ifs' for international tournaments, but thankfully not.

Do you know if the seeding was similarly skewed for the Euros as well? If so, I would love to explore that scenario.
I don't think so; I believe the Euros has always been seeded via UEFA co-efficient rankings.
1998 Group Stage

1998 Group Stage

Defending champions Brazil would kick off the tournament against Scotland, and would triumph 2-1 via an unfortunate own goal from Tom Boyd. Debutants Jamaica would provide the tournament’s first upset a few hours later, a Theodore Whitmore double earning them a 2-1 win over Bulgaria. The team who’d finished fourth in the USA four years earlier would experience classic second tournament syndrome, as single goals from Craig Burley and Bebeto would see them lose their remaining matches 1-0 to finish bottom of the group.

That win for the Scots left them needing just a single point against Jamaica, who’d lost 3-0 to the Selecao, to reach a first ever knockout stage. There seemed to be a faint sense of déjà vu for the Tartan Army, however, as they missed several chances in the first half before Robbie Earle gave the debutants a shock lead right on the stroke of half time. As the second half began, the Reggae Boyz had numerous chances to add to their lead, but failed to take them, before Paul Lambert bundled in a very scrappy equaliser with 12 minutes to go.

Scotland were through, at last, but were very lucky to be so.

1998 Group A.PNG

Group B was seen by many as the hardest group to predict, and so it proved, as group favourites Romania would be left stunned by Nigeria who triumphed 3-1 in their opening game. Croatia, playing in their first World Cup since independence, would go one better with a 3-0 win over the USA, before a 2-1 win over Nigeria and a final 1-0 victory over Romania saw them go through with a 100% record.

Nigeria would recover from the defeat, a 2-0 win over the USA ensuring they went through in second place ahead of Romania who, like Bulgaria, would also fall in the group stage after doing so well four years prior.

1998 Group B.PNG

Group C was the Group of Death: hosts France, Paraguay, England and Cameroon. The two European sides were expected to progress, but that was before Paraguay managed to hold the hosts to an impressive goalless draw in their first game. Les Bleus would soon bounce back though, a narrow 2-1 win over England and a 3-1 trouncing of Cameroon saw them top the group

England wouldn’t start off much better, falling behind against Cameroon before an Alan Shearer equaliser and a late Paul Scholes winner gave them the win they wanted, but not convincingly. And the defeat to France left them needing to beat Paraguay, who beat Cameroon 1-0, to go through. The South Americans would frustrate the English attack, but, just when the unthinkable looked possible, a young Michael Owen would score one of the all-time great World Cup goals, not that unreminiscent of Maradona 12 years earlier, and, after a mighty close scare, England were through in style.

1998 Group C.PNG

Spain were expected to top Group D easily, and started off well with a 2-0 win over debutants Japan, while Chile and Norway, expected to battle for second, played out a 1-1 draw. Things then went wrong for La Roja however, as a Marcelo Salas double earned the Chileans a deserved 2-2 draw, while a single goal from Havard Flo saw Norway beat Japan. This meant the final group game would be winner take all, while the runners-up would be relying on Japan to do them a favour.

Heading into the final ten minutes, both games were 1-1, and the two European teams were going through. But then, Salas scored a winner for Chile against Japan, before, with 90 minutes looming, the unthinkable happened, as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer stunned Spain with a late winner that meant Norway topped the group, Chile were through in second place, and La Roja were out.

1998 Group D.PNG

There was no such drama in Group E; Germany and Belgium were expected to progress at the expense of Saudi Arabia and Tunisia, and indeed they did. The Germans would win their first two games 1-0 and 2-1 respectively, and no-one thought much of a poor 1-1 draw with already eliminated Tunisia in their final game, where manager Berti Vogts rested most of the first team. Belgium recovered from losing to Der Mannschaft with two 2-1 wins taking them through in second place.

1998 Group E.PNG

Italy and Denmark were similarly expected to easily progress from Group F, and things went to script at first as the Azzuri thumped debutants South Africa 3-0, while the Danes beat South Korea 2-0. A 4-0 thrashing of the Koreans confirmed Italy’s place in the Round of 16, but Bafana Bafana would claim a deserved 1-1 draw against Denmark, which left them with a chance of progressing. They would do what they could, beating the Koreans 2-1, but it wasn’t to be, as the Danes claimed another 1-1 draw against a weakened Italy team and progressed safely.

1998 Group F.PNG

And it was the same story in Group G; group favourites the Netherlands would comfortably beat Colombia (1-0) and Yugoslavia (2-1) to ensure their progress, before a second string side disappointingly drew 1-1 with Iran. Yugoslavia would beat both non-European opponents 1-0 to go through in second place.

1998 Group G.PNG

Finally, in Group H, Argentina would start off with a stutter against Mexico, Luis Hernandez’s equaliser cancelling out Batistuta’s opener, but rebounded with comfortable wins over Morocco (3-0) and Austria (2-1) to go through. The battle for second went to the final game, with Mexico and Morocco both defeating Austria, making the final game winner take all, though a draw would see Mexico through on goal difference.

The Atlas Lions were celebrating after goals from Salaheddine Bassir and Abdeljalil Hadda put them 2-0 up, but Ricardo Pelaez pulled one back for Mexico, before a 94th minute Hernandez equaliser broke Moroccan hearts and sent Mexico through by the skin of their teeth.

1998 Group H.PNG

to be continued…


So, here we are at France 98! Apologies for the slightly clumsy writing, but I'm not quite used to packing this much in yet and I didn't want it to go on too long (same reason I've been procrastinating on these English league changes in my other TL). Anyway, a few same matches and similar scenarios to OTL despite the redrawn groups, and at the end of it, we have a R16 draw of:
  • Brazil vs Nigeria
  • Norway vs England
  • Germany vs Denmark
  • Argentina vs Yugoslavia
  • Croatia vs Scotland
  • France vs Chile
  • Italy vs Belgium
  • Netherlands vs Mexico
So, make of that what you will; we shall be back next Wednesday to see how it all plays out!
Last edited:
my bets

  • BRAZIL vs Nigeria
  • Norway vs ENGLAND
  • Germany vs DENMARK( well i bet on denmark because of the laudrup brothers that i have some admiration and germany was not at a great level in 98 so i can see denmark beating them like croatia did in the otl)[/L]
    [*]ARGENTINA vs Yugoslavia(Tough game, Yugoslavia had a good team, but Argentina is better so I'm betting on them But you never know if Ortega will do what he did in the game against Holland in OTL 98)
    [*]CROATIA vs Scotland
    [*]FRANCE vs Chile
    [*]ITALY vs Belgium
    [*]NETHERLANDS vs Mexico
Last edited:
  • Brazil vs Nigeria
  • Norway vs England
  • Germany vs Denmark
  • Argentina vs Yugoslavia
  • Croatia vs Scotland
  • France vs Chile
  • Italy vs Belgium
  • Netherlands vs Mexico
Brazil vs Nigeria
Norway vs England (you read that right, could be a surprise)
Germany vs Denmark
vs Yugoslavia
Croatia vs Scotland
France vs Chile
Italy vs Belgium
Netherlands vs Mexico
Brazil 4-1 Nigeria
Norway (p) 0-0 England
Germany (a.s.d.e.t.) 2-1 Denmark
Argentina (p) 2-2 FR Yugoslavia
Croatia 1-0 Scotland
France 2-1 Chile
Italy 1-0 Belgium
Netherlands 2-1 Mexico
1998 Knockout Stage

1998 Knockout Stage

Having finally cleared the group stages for the first time, Scotland would play the first knockout match of the tournament as they faced Croatia, who had aced the group stage of their first World Cup post-independence. And their momentum would continue into the knockouts, as a Davor Suker double and a Robert Jarni penalty gave them a 3-0 lead, before Craig Burley scored a deserved consolation for the Scots in the 87th minute.

It would be Scotland’s final World Cup appearance for twenty years (though they would qualify for the Euros a couple of times in that time), but they could at least go into that hiatus knowing they had finally broken their group stage hoodoo.

The rest of the second round would, mostly, go as expected: Brazil soundly dispatched a valiant Nigeria 4-1; France would do likewise, but would be made to work for their 2-1 win over Chile. Goals from Shearer and Owen would see England beat Norway 2-0; a Batistuta double would do likewise for Argentina against Yugoslavia. A last-minute Edgar Davids goal gave the Netherlands victory over Mexico, and Italy would labour to a 1-0 win over Belgium in a most boring match.

There was room for one surprise in the second round, as both of the Laudrup brothers, both playing in their final tournament, scored as Denmark stunned Germany 2-0; despite dominating the game otherwise, the Germans were unable to break down the Danes, and the two goals against the run of play would inflict their earliest World Cup exit in years, and herald the end of Berti Vogts’ tenure as manager.

The Danes would go through to play Argentina in an enthralling game that would end 2-2, with Martin Jorgenson, Batistuta, Javier Zanetti and Brian Laudrup, in that order, the goalscorers, before Batistuta scored the first ever World Cup Golden Goal to put the Albiceleste through to the semi-finals.

There, they would face a South American heavyweight match against Brazil, who had triumphed in a cracking match against England. The two sides were equal in the first half, with Michael Owen cancelling out Rivaldo’s opener, but the match turned in the second half when David Beckham was sent off for a dive in the box, which he received much stick for back home afterwards. A second from Rivaldo and a Ronaldo stunner secured the win for the Selecao

On the other side of the draw, France would finally end Croatia’s memorable run thanks to a double from Lilian Thuram, and the Netherlands would beat (a much improved) Italy 2-1 via an iconic last-minute goal from Dennis Bergkamp, with equally iconic commentary from Jack van Zenden!

So, a brilliant quarter-final round would set the scene for two brilliant semi-finals. Firstly, the two South American rivals would engage in an enthralling contest which was goalless at half time. Ronaldo would finally break the deadlock just seconds into the second half, but Batistuta would once again be the hero for Argentina as his equaliser saw the game end 1-1.

Extra time brought no further goals, which meant the first penalty shootout of the tournament. And, in a sense of déjà vu from the final of four years prior, it would be Batistuta who missed the decisive kick that saw Brazil win through to their second successive final.

France vs the Netherlands the following day would be similarly dramatic, with Patrick Kluivert rescuing a 1-1 draw and forcing extra time right at the death after Zidane’s long awaited first goal of the tournament had given Les Bleus the lead midway through the first half.

More extra time would ensure, but there would be no penalties this time, as an unlikely hero in Laurent Blanc would volley in a golden goal in the second period to put France through to the World Cup final on home soil! Though it was bittersweet for Blanc himself, as he would miss the final after getting booked earlier in the game.

They went into that final as underdogs, against the Brazil team that had been brilliant throughout. However, the Selecao’s pre-match preparation fell into turmoil after Ronaldo suffered a seizure the morning of the game; he recovered and said he was fine to play, resulting in him being hastily reinstated into the starting XI having initially been omitted.

However, he and his teammates were clearly affected by what had happened and were nowhere near their best. France took full advantage; Zidane would score a double in the first half, and Emmanuel Petit a third in second half stoppage time, and Les Bleus had claimed their first ever World Cup!

1998 Knockout Stage.PNG


So there we have it folks, 1998 is complete! A few similar scenarios to OTL, and the same ultimate result, which will probably be a recurring theme ITTL. This'll be how I write this from now on incidentally: one post for the group stage and one for the entire knockout stage.

And yes, no Scotland(insert profanity here)ing ITTL either; already done quite enough of that in my first TL! The point of this is to redraw the tournaments with the same teams fully seeded, and try to gauge how they'd have fared in the new scenarios; so the teams will be evolving the same way as OTL, with a couple of exceptions that may be seen over the coming weeks...

So, we head to Japan and Korea next, with the following seedings...

2002 Seedings.PNG

Tune back in next Wednesday to see how the newly drawn group stage goes...
2002 Group Stage

2002 Group Stage

For the first time in its history, the World Cup left its traditional home of Europe and the Americas and headed to Asia for the first time. Japan and South Korea had originally intended to field solo bids for the tournament, but, after Japan narrowly failed to qualify for the 1994 tournament, the two reluctantly decided to merge their bids. Although the bid easily won over that of Mexico, FIFA insisted it was a one-off and they wouldn’t consider joint bids again in the future.

Having topped their 1998 victory on home soil by winning Euro 2000, France went into the tournament as red-hot favourites, with no-one taking much notice of a disappointing run of friendly results beforehand; they were only friendlies after all. But then, in their final warm up game, disaster struck, as Zidane had to retire with a thigh injury, which meant he would miss the first two games of the tournament at least.

In his absence, France opened the tournament against Mexico and succumbed to a 1-0 defeat via a single goal from Jared Borgetti. They would then limp to an unimpressive 1-0 win over debutants China, who Portugal had put four past a few days earlier and Mexico a further three a few days later.

This coupled with an entertaining 2-all draw between those other two teams meant Les Bleus’ final game against the Portuguese was winner take all. Zidane returned, with his injured thigh bandaged up, but it was clearly too soon, as he wasn’t even close to his best, and goals from Pauleta and Luis Figo ensured France were the first defending champions to fall at the first hurdle since Brazil in 1966.

2002 Group A.PNG

Brazil weren’t in the best state going into the tournament; Ronaldo had missed the entire qualifying campaign with his infamous knee injury and, in his absence, the Selecao had limped to a third place finish in the CONMEBOL qualifying. He thankfully recovered just in time for the tournament itself, but then, their captain Emerson broke his shoulder in training and was ruled out for the tournament.

Brazil thus also went into their first match, against Turkey, in a depleted state, and were 1-0 down at half time via a goal from Hasan Sas. A Ronaldo equaliser and a soft penalty, dispatched by Rivaldo, gave them a come from behind win, but it was far from convincing, or deserved. They would then labour to a 1-all draw with Sweden, a late Ronaldinho equaliser securing a point, and, while they did put four past already eliminated Tunisia to secure their place in the knockouts, that was the least that was expected of them. This Brazil team was there for the taking…

The Swedes and the Turks also defeated Tunisia, 2-1 and 2-0 respectively, making their final game against each other winner take all, though a draw would be enough for the Swedes. They looked to be heading through courtesy of a Henrik Larsson strike in the first half, but Emre Belozoglu would equalise in the 77th minute, before, with the clock about to tick into injury time, Umit Davala broke Swedish hearts with a late winner to take Turkey through…

2002 Group B.PNG

There was no such drama in Group C, as Spain banished the horrors of four years earlier, with victories over South Africa and Costa Rica taking them safely through, before a second-string team drew 1-all with Belgium in their final game. Belgium’s other two games also finished 1-1, meaning, thanks to South Africa and Costa Rica holding each other to a 2-all draw in their final game, they snuck through with three points…

2002 Group C.PNG

Group D was seen by many as the toughest group to predict, with co-hosts South Korea something of an unknown quantity, alongside Denmark, Russia and Uruguay. In the event, the hosts and the Danes would both defeat both opponents, meaning they were both through heading into their game against each other, which ended 1-all. South Korea, though, would top the group thanks to Denmark’s having conceded an extra goal against Russia.

2002 Group D.PNG

Italy and Croatia were expected to progress from Group E, and indeed they did, but they made very heavy work of it. Things went to script at first, as Italy saw off Ecuador 2-0, while Croatia were held to a 1-all draw by Cameroon. Then, as they played each other, Croatia stunned the Azzuri to win 1-0, which looked to have won them the group. Except they then went and lost 1-0 to Ecuador, and they were lucky it was only that as a second goal would’ve put the South Americans through instead, while Italy saw off Cameroon to top the group.

2002 Group E.PNG

Just months after the iconic qualifying game in Munich, England and Germany found themselves drawn against each other again, with both expected to progress easily at the expenses of Saudi Arabia and debutants Senegal. But, while England would keep up their end of the deal with a 2-0 win over the Saudis, the Germans would be left stunned by the Africans, as the late Papa Bouba Diop scored the only goal of the game which led to an iconic celebration!

Perhaps those results made the two winners a bit overconfident, as Senegal would then stumble to a 1-all draw with the Saudis, while the much-anticipated England vs Germany match ended the same, Miroslav Klose’s late equaliser cancelling out David Beckham’s penalty. It did, however, mean a draw with Senegal would ensure they would both go through at the Germans’ expense.

Der Mannschaft finally found their feet at the tournament as they demolished the Saudis 8-0, but it was no use; the England-Senegal game ended goalless and they both went through, consigning the Germans to a first group stage exit since 1938! Towards the end of the game, both sets of fans could be heard chanting “ALGERIA! (clap clap clap) ALGERIA!”, which led many to claims, dismissed by both teams, that the result was a set-up to pay the Germans out for the Disgrace of Gijon twenty years earlier. In a remarkable display of lack of self-awareness, the Germans launched an official protest against the result; it was ignored.

2002 Group F.PNG

There were no such machinations in Group G; Argentina kicked off with a 1-0 win over Nigeria and never looked back. The USA would join them after beating debutants Slovenia 3-1, but the first timers would nonetheless make history as a late goal from Milenko Acimovic against the Nigerians gave them their first ever win at a major tournament and meant they could still go through going into the final round.

Alas, it wasn’t to be, as a Batistuta double and a late third from Hernan Crespo gave the Argentines a 3-1 win to send them through and send the plucky newcomers home with their heads held high. A goalless draw with Nigeria, meanwhile, was enough to put the Americans through in second place.

2002 Group G.PNG

Finally, in Group H, Japan would match fellow hosts Korea by topping the table, thanks to a 2-0 win over Poland, an entertaining 2-all draw with the Republic of Ireland and a 2-1 win over Paraguay, who were unlucky to be going out after drawing with the two European teams. This left them to battle for second place in their game together, and it would be the Irish who won out thanks to an injury time winner from Robbie Keane…

2002 Group H.PNG

to be continued…


So, here we are at 2002, my first World Cup! Fond memories of watching Sweden vs Senegal on the little yellow mini telly in the caravan at Findochty! And of the local vicar coming to the school assembly the week before the final and confidently predicting a Brazil win!

Again, a few things go the same way as OTL, such as France bombing out in the first round, albeit they do at least score a goal this time, and a few changes such as Germany falling in the groups and, as per the unwritten golden rule of 2002 WC scenarios on this site, Argentina clearing their group! Reminder too of how disorganised Brazil were going into that tournament before it suddenly all came good for them in the end.

Anyway, after a pretty good group stage, better than 1998 ITTL IMO, we have a second round draw of:

  • Italy vs Turkey
  • Argentina vs Denmark
  • Brazil vs Croatia
  • South Korea vs USA
  • Portugal vs Senegal
  • Spain vs Republic of Ireland
  • England vs Mexico
  • Japan vs Belgium
And, remember, we'll be covering the entire knockout stage next week; how do you think it might play out? Tune back in next week to find out!
  • Italy vs Turkey
  • Argentina vs Denmark
  • Brazil vs Croatia
  • South Korea vs USA
  • Portugal vs Senegal
  • Spain vs Republic of Ireland
  • England vs Mexico
  • Japan vs Belgium
Italy 1-0 Turkey
Argentina 1-0 Denmark
Brazil 2-0 Croatia
South Korea (a.e.t.) 2-1 United States
Portugal 0-1 Senegal
Spain (p) 1-1 Republic of Ireland
England 3-0 Mexico
Japan (p) 2-2 Belgium
2002 Knockout Stage

2002 Knockout Stage

The knockout stage of the 2002 World Cup would kick off with two fixtures, Italy vs Turkey and Portugal vs Senegal, which were expected to be easy victories for the favourites. Football being football, things didn’t quite go according to plan.

Umit Davala would give the Turks a shock lead in the 12th minute, only for Christian Vieri to equalise six minutes later. The Azzuri would have numerous chances to take the lead, but failed to take them and the game would go to extra time. And, just four minutes in, the unthinkable happened, as Ilhan Mansiz scored a golden goal to send Turkey through and Italy home!

Later that day, it would be the same story for Portugal, who struggled to break down Senegal, before El Hadji Diouf scored against the run of play. The shell shocked Portuguese couldn’t find a response, and Senegal were through to the quarter-finals as well!

The rest of the round would go as expected: England brushed a disappointing Mexico aside 2-0, Brazil finally showed up at the World Cup as they blew Croatia away 3-0, Argentina would thump Denmark by the same scoreline, while Ireland would give Spain a great fight, taking them all the way to penalties before La Roja triumped.

The two hosts would also extend their stays at their tournament, but, while Japan’s golden goal win over Belgium after an exciting 2-2 draw was well received, South Korea’s 1-0 win over the USA wasn’t, with the Americans having had a goal wrongly disallowed and a penalty not giving, before Ahn Jung Hwan scored an 83rd minute goal that proved the winner.

Most neutrals were thus hoping for Brazil to dispatch the hosts in the quarter-finals and, though they too would be on the wrong end of some rather suspect refereeing, they would prove too strong in the end and goals from Rivaldo and Ronaldo sent them through to the semis. Japan and Turkey’s underdog runs would also end, with an England side growing in confidence by the game dispatching Japan via a single Michael Owen goal, while Crespo and Sorin scored in a 2-1 for Argentina over Turkey to set up, for the second tournament in a row, an all-South American heavyweight semi-final!

That left Senegal the last underdogs standing as they faced Spain, who were comfortable at first and took the lead in the 14th minute through Fernando Morientes. But then, again, against the run of play, Henri Camara would rifle in an equaliser to level things up again. Once again, the second half would prove goalless and extra time would be reached before, with the first period almost up, Camara snuck through the Spanish defence and slotted home a golden goal! Senegal had made history: the first ever African World Cup semi-finalists!

There, they would face a rematch against England. But, while their group stage match was a disappointing goalless draw, this time things would be very different, as a free flowing England took the lead after just eight minutes through, who else, Owen. The Liverpool striker would make it two on the stroke of half-time, before Paul Scholes settled the match with a third just after the hour mark. Senegal would get a consolation through Fadiga in he 76th minute, and a second from Diouf deep into added time made things interesting, but it was too late; their magnificent run was over, and England were through to a first World Cup final in 36 years!

There, they would face the winner of the similarly exciting Brazil vs Argentina semi-final, which would go all the distance, with Batistuta opening the scoring after 12 minutes, only for Ronaldo to almost immediately get an equaliser. A second from Ronaldinho in the 43rd minute gave the Selecao a half time lead, which they maintained for much of the second half, only for Crespo to get a timely equaliser with 13 minutes to go that took us to extra time. Both sides had chances to win the game, but it wouldn’t be until the 114th minute, when Batistuta popped in a header from a corner to break Brazilian hearts and put Argentina into the final!

Brazil would take the consolation of third with a 2-0 win over Senegal in the play-off, Ronaldo scoring both goals, but, considering the mess they’d been in going into the tournament, third place wasn’t bad at all, and certainly boded well for the future.

It would be England vs Argentina for the title however; with both sides having visibly grown in confidence since the group stages, this had all the makings of a final for the ages.

Sadly, the game would be rather stilted at first, with both sides rather overcome by the occasion, and neither really threatening the other side’s goal.

Until, with the first half about to tick into added time, Crespo gave Sol Campbell the slip and fired past the despairing David Seaman to give Argentina the lead! The worst possible time for England to concede, and it seemed to knock any momentum they might’ve had out of them.

As the game resumed, Argentina seemed dominant, with England clearly still not over conceding so late in the first half, and it seemed a matter of when, not if, the Albiceleste would score again. England had Seaman to thank for them staying in the game, on one occasion making a superb save to deny Batistuta a headed second (the best of his career John Motson said, though the one he made against Sheffield United in the cup a year later would take the title without question).

Despite these missed chances, Argentina seemed comfortable, with England having seemingly run out of steam and unable to fashion any chances.

Until, with ten minutes to go, a mistake from Juan Sebastian Veron saw him give the ball straight to an inrushing Owen, who, unable to believe his luck, ran clean into the box and fired past Cavallero! Out of nowhere, England were level!

Suddenly the mood had changed; England’s tails were back up, while the horrified Argentines were panicking and being forced backwards as the Three Lions went for the jugular. Cavallero was now the busier keeper, as he did well to keep Owen and Beckham out from close range.

Then, with just two minutes left, England won a corner; as Beckham walked over to take it, many people started getting flashbacks of that Manchester United comeback against Bayern Munich three years earlier: “Is this fate?” asked John Motson as Beckham began back off for his run up.

He took the kick; it wasn’t the best and Cavallero managed to punch it away, seemingly to safety.

Only for it to land straight at the feet of Paul Scholes, who, with one almighty kick, sent the ball screaming past everyone in the box, the keeper including, smack bang into the back of the net!

“And ScholesOHHHHE’S DONE IT! (beat as Trevor Brooking loses it alongside him!) WHAT A WAY TO WIN IT! AS HE SURELY HAS DONE!” - John Motson

There was no way Argentina could possibly respond to that. England comfortably saw out the final minutes, before Motty could finally utter the immortal words…

“They think it’s all over; IT IS NOW! ENGLAND ARE WORLD CHAMPIONS!”

2002 Knockout Stage.PNG


36 years of hurt are over! After a highly dramatic group stage, England are World Champions again at last! And Senegal are semi-finalists, what's not to like there?! Thanks to QTX for allowing me to loosely borrow some of the games/scenarios from his writing btw; the final is based on his original TL, but I did alter it a bit so as not to be a direct copy. I didn't use the England-Argentina game from OTL as both teams would be on much better form than they would've been in that first round match.

Not much more to say there, so we move on to 2006 next, with the following seeds...

2006 Seedings.PNG

I'll hopefully be able to write as usual the next two weeks, even though I'm actually going to be away on a much needed holiday for both of them. So, tune back in next Wednesday when, hopefully, we'll be off to Germany...
And England win in 2002...cue TTL Tartan Army having a meltdown! :p

Honestly, I have always said that the 2002 England team had the best chance of winning a WC in which had they won their OTL, they would have surely made it to the last four or had been placed in Germany's OTL group and vice versa in England's, then they would have certainly made the final. Guess now here with them winning a WC all the pressure might have relaxed a little bit more for them and how did they get on in Euro 2004? Hopefully Scotland makes it more likely in a reaction to England's victory in Japan here.
ATL 2002 sucked even more for Italy than OTL 2002, but at least Senegal went even further than they did IRL - I doubt there was anyone that wasn't rooting for them, back then.