Definition of The Group of Death

Part of the excitement of cup competitions like the World Cup, European Championships, Champions League and Europa League are the drawing of the groups. This is the preliminary stage of the actual competitions, where teams that have played through qualifying rounds finally get to face off in order to progress into the knockout stages. The most challenging of these groups is normally given the nickname "The Group of Death".

The nickname originated when a group of Mexican journalists called Group 3 of the 1970 World Cup the grupo de la muerte (literally, group of death) when the group was made up of reigning champions England, eventual winners Brazil, runners up of the 1962 World Cup Czechoslovakia and Romania.

While the name originated with international competitions and still remains the most popular with them, it has expanded into competitions like the Champions League and Europa League. Again, it comes about when a series of strong clubs are drawn into the same group early on. For example, some see Group H in the 2020/21 Champions League draw as the "Group of Death" because it has Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United and RB Leipzig in it alongside relative minnows Istanbul Basaksehir. All three of these clubs did extremely well the previous season and all might see themselves as contenders for the title.

The term is often applied in anticipation of the tournament rather than looking back on it. It's a way to hype up potential viewers and fans in order to get them more excited to see how their country or club will do in tough situations. Tough groups and competitions aren't going away anytime soon, and neither does the nickname that has been associated with it for half a century.