In a little over 24 hours the 2014 FIFA World Cup Draw will be held and fans of the 32 qualifying countries will learn who they will face in Brazil next summer.
Eight groups of four countries will shape the South American spectacle and in this article, we provide everything you need to know about tomorrow’s draw.
Let’s get stuck in.
WHEN & WHERE
Date: Friday, December 6, 2013
Time: 11:00am ET; 4:00pm GMT
Venue: Costa do Sauipe Resort, Mata de Sao Joao, Bahia, Brazil
TV: ESPN 2 11:30am ET
POTS & DRAW SCHEME
The 32 qualifying nations have been divided into four pre-draw “pots.”
Pot One: Argentina, Brazil, Belgium, Colombia, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, Uruguay
Pot One nations are comprised of the world’s top seven seeded countries, according to FIFA’s rankings, who managed to qualify for the finals through their group stage finish. Also in this pot is Brazil, who qualify as hosts of the tournament even though they are currently outside the world’s top eight.
Pot Two: Ivory Coast, Ghana, Algeria, Nigeria, Cameroon, Chile, Ecuador
Pot Two contains the five qualified CAF nations as well as Chile and Ecuador. Note that Pot Two currently contains only seven teams, an issue FIFA will address during the first step of Friday’s draw (see below).
Pot Three: US, Japan, Iran, South Korea, Australia, Mexico, Costa Rica and Honduras
Pot Three is made up of CONCACAF and AFC nations, as well as other top finishers from Asia and the Americas.
Pot Four: Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, England, France, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Russia
Pot Four is comprised of nine unseeded UEFA nations. During Friday’s draw one of these teams will be placed into Pot Two.
As explained by Pro Soccer Talk writer Richard Farley, this is how the draw will go down:
1. They’re going to solve that nine-team pot problem first. One ball will be pulled at random from Pot Four (the one with all of UEFA’s non-seeded qualifiers) and placed into Pot Two. Once done, the pots will be even (eight teams each).
2. The pots will be drawn sequentially, one through four, with team placed into groups sequentially, A through H.
3. Brazil will be the first team pulled out of Pot One. As hosts, they’ll go into Group A and play in the tournament’s opening game. The rest of the teams will be pulled out at random and placed in groups B through H.
4. Pot Two is drawn next, albeit with two caveats:
If the European team that’s in this pot gets slotted with another UEFA qualifier, they’ll instead be bumped down to the next group. For example, if Portugal is pulled from Pot Four, dropped in Pot Two, and is then pulled out to be grouped with Spain, they’ll instead move down to the next non-European group, with the following draw from Pot Two filling the place in Spain’s group.
Likewise … Pot Two’s South American teams can’t be drawn with CONMEBOL’s seeded qualifier, FIFA committed to spreading out a region’s teams as much as possible. With all non-UEFA confederations limited to one team per group, Chile and Ecuador can not be drawn with Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, or Uruguay. If that happens, they’ll be slotted in the next group instead, with the next ball that comes out of Pot Two set to fill the vacated spot. This guaranteed Chile and Ecuador will be grouped with two European teams.
5. Pot Three (CONCACAF and Asia) is drawn. No tricks here. If you’re looking for potential Groups of Pain, see if Japan, the United States, or (to a certain extent) Mexico get drawn with Chile and Ecuador.
6. Pot Four (the Europe group) is drawn, and because of the care taken to ensure Pot Two doesn’t bunch teams from the same region, each group will have (no fewer than) one or (at most) two European teams.
USMNT – “BEST” AND “WORST” CASE SCENARIOS
Life was good for the US in 2010 as the Yanks were drawn into a group with England, Algeria and Slovenia. Suffice to say, tomorrow’s draw will not be as kind to Jurgen Klinsmann’s squad.
Most would say the “best” case scenario for the US would be to draw Switzerland out of Group A, Algeria out of Group B and Greece, Croatia or Bosnia out of Group D.
Of course, drawing an unproven side like Belgium or Colombia out of Group A wouldn’t be horrible, even if those nations are dark-horses to win the tournament. If the US can’t pluck Algeria out of Group B, nations like Cameroon, Ecuador and Nigeria wouldn’t be bad either. And if the Greeks don’t come up from Group D, Klinsmann’s men would welcome a match against England, Russia or even underachieving sides like France and Portugal.
The “worst” case scenario would see the US pitted against a Group A nation like Argentina, Brazil, Spain, Germany or Uruguay, a Group B country like Ivory Coast, Ghana or Chile and a Group D team like Italy or Netherlands.
Note, however, that I put the words “best” and “worst” in parentheses. I did this because, for me, those terms don’t really apply to the US. There are difficult draws and not-so-difficult draws. But knowing the makeup of the USMNT – grinders, fighters, a team that loves to play the role of underdog and on any given day can beat anyone – the draw simply is what it is.
If paired with a dominant country like Spain, Brazil or Argentina, then the US has a chance of defeating one of the best nations in the world. Nothing better than that. Plus – as astutely noted to me by famed soccer producer Shaw Brown – being paired with a world-powerhouse also means that the other two teams in the group are likely taking losses, thereby improving the Yanks’ chances of advancing. I like that mentality.
So no matter who the US is paired with, keep things in context. The US are a plucky side, capable of astounding results. Like life, the World Cup Draw truly is in the eye of the beholder.
GROUPS, VENUES, STADIUMS
The 32 nations will be divided into eight equal groups according to letter. Within each of those groups, matches will be set in various locations throughout Brazil.
Below is a list of venues and stadiums where teams within a group may be assigned to play.
Group A: Sao Paulo (Arena de Sao Paulo); Natal (Estadio das Dunas); Fortaleza (Estadio Castelao); Manaus (Arena Amazonia); Brasilia (Estadio Nacional); Recife (Arena Pernambuco)
Group B: Salvador (Arena Fonte Nova); Cuiaba (Arena Pantanal); Rio De Janeiro (Estadio do Maracana); Porto Alegre (Estadio Beira-Rio); Curitiba (Arena da Baixada); Sao Paulo (Arena de Sao Paulo)
Group C: Belo Horizonte (Estadio Mineirao); Recife (Arena Pernambuco); Brasilia (Estadio Nacional); Natal (Estadio das Dunas); Cuiaba (Arena Pantanal); Fortaleza (Estadio Castelao)
Group D: Fortaleza (Estadio Castelao); Manaus (Arena Amazonia); Sao Paulo (Arena de Sao Paulo); Recife (Arena Pernambuco); Natal (Estadio das Dunas); Belo Horizonte (Estadio Mineirao)
Group E: Brasilia (Estadio Nacional); Porto Alegre (Estadio Beira-Rio); Salvador (Arena Fonte Nova); Curitiba (Arena da Baixada); Manaus (Arena Amazonia); Rio De Janeiro (Estadio do Maracana)
Group F: Rio De Janeiro (Estadio do Maracana); Curitiba (Arena da Baixada); Belo Horizonte (Estadio Mineirao); Cuiaba (Arena Pantanal); Porto Alegre (Estadio Beira-Rio); Salvador (Arena Fonte Nova)
Group G: Salvador (Arena Fonte Nova); Natal (Estadio das Dunas); Fortaleza (Estadio Castelao); Manaus (Arena Amazonia); Recife (Arena Pernambuco); Brasilia (Estadio Nacional)
Group H: Belo Horizonte (Estadio Mineirao); Cuiaba (Arena Pantanal); Rio De Janeiro (Estadio do Maracana); Porto Alegre (Estadio Beira-Rio); Sao Paulo (Arena de Sao Paulo); Curitiba (Arena da Baixada)
THE NEXT 48 HOURS
Throughout the next few days make sure you stop back here at Pro Soccer Talk (and follow NBC Sports Soccer on Twitter) for Draw articles analyzing the biggest storylines, matchups and reactions from the U.S. Men’s National Team, England and CONCACAF region.
We’ll also be giving you the lowdown on the US’ opponents, reactions from the US camp and the rest of the world, top games to watch, Group of Death insight, and much, much more.