Well now we can officially begin to get excited. The World Cup drawings for 2014 have been made in Brazil and there are some truly great games in prospect. England v Italy, Spain v Netherlands and Germany v Portugal are all scheduled for the opening round. It all begins on June 13 2014 in Sao Paolo, Brazil.
Here’s what you need to know:
Brazil, Croatia, Mexico and Cameroon.
It will be a pretty epic opener for the World Cup with Brazil facing Croatia in Sao Paolo on June 12. I’d expect those two teams to be the ones who make into the last 16.
Spain, Netherlands, Chile and Australia
This should be interesting, obviously it’s a rematch from the 2010 World Cup final between Spain and the Netherlands, but Chile are a pretty decent team, as England found out recently. I’m predicting more traditional Dutch infighting and for Spain and Chile to make it to the second round.
Colombia, Greece, The Ivory Coast and Japan
Well this is interesting, underachievers Colombia will be the favorites once again with Ivory Coast powered by Yaya Toure eager to make a splash on the world stage. Crafty Greece and technically brilliant Japan cannot be discounted, a tough one to call but I think Ivory Coast and Colombia will make it in the end.
Uruguay, Costa Rica, England and Italy
This looks like the toughest group. England and Italy probably feel the weight of public expectation more than any other European countries, so Uruguay will be looking to exploit that, and with Luis Suarez playing like a man possessed…I’m going with Italy and Uruguay to make it out of the group.
Switzerland, Ecuado, France and Honduras
The most boring of all the groups surely. France should win all their games and be joined by Switzerland in the latter stages.
Argentina, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iran and Nigeria
Will this be the World Cup where Leo Messi puts all the doubters in their place and becomes a World Champion? Probably not, but Argentina should still beat everybody in this group. I’d love to see Edin Dzeko and Bosnia make it into the second round too.
Germany, Portugal, USA and Ghana
Ouch for the US, Germany and Portugal will be an epic fight to win this group so expect to rack up a serious amount of goals against the US and Ghana.
Belgium, Algeria, Russia and South Korea
This is where Belgium have to live up to their hype, and they’ve been afforded a pretty straightforward group in which to do so. Algeria should be easily swept aside as should South Korea, but Russia could be a tougher prospect. Still though, Belgium should win the group with Russia making it through to the second round.
The teams who make it out of the group stages will then face the daunting knock-out rounds en route to the final in Rio on July 13.
The second round could potentially give us Brazil v Spain or Netherlands. But other than that the big dogs should find it straight forward to get to the quarter-finals.
This is how it all went down live:
Portugal versus Germany in Group G with the USA and Ghana also hanging on in there, that’s going to be a tough group.
The World Cup final of 2010 will be replaying in Group B with Spain and the Netherlands doing battle.
The World Cup’s opening game will be Brazil and Croatia in Sao Paolo. Not to mention Italy and England will face each other. Wow.
Mexico will join the hosts Brazil in Group A. Australia will face the holders Spain and Chile in Group B. Meanwhile in Group C, Japan will face the Ivory Coast and Colombia. Costa Rica are playing Italy and Uruguay. Switzerland are joined with Ecuador and Honduras in Group E. Argentina and Nigeria will face Iran in Group F.
Germany will have to deal with Ghana and USA and Group G and Belgium, Algeria, and South Korea in Group H.
Italy have been drawn into Group D with Uruguay. Chile will play Spain in Group B. The hosts Brazil have Cameroon with them Group A. The Ivory Coast will face Falcao and Colombia in Group C. Nigeria will face Argentina in a rematch from the 2002 World Cup in Group B. Ghana have the nightmare of facing one of the favorites, Germany in Group G with Belgium facing Algeria in Group H.
Brazil will lead Group A, Spain will lead Group B, Colombia will lead Group C, Uruguay will lead Group D, Switzerland will lead Group E, Argentina will lead Group F, Germany will lead Group G and Belgium will lead Group H.
The draw is about to begin, according to FIFA, the drawing will be helped by representatives of the eight countries to have won the World Cup:
Sir Geoff Hurst, Mario Kempes, Fabio Cannavaro, Lothar Matthaus, Zinedine Zidane, Fernando Hierro, Cafu and Alcides Ghiggia.
And now we play the waiting game, the second we have the full groups we’ll post the full list here. I’ll do my best across this liveblog not to say the words “Group of Death.”
— FIFA.com (@FIFAcom) December 6, 2013
Former World Cup winning captain Fabio Cannavaro presents the World Cup ball, the Adidas Brazuca:
England manager Roy Hodgson looks pretty cheery:
— The FA (@FA) December 6, 2013
It’s nearly upon us, the drawing for the World Cup 2014 is imminent. Coming to you live from Costa do Sauipe in north-eastern Brazil momentarily. The 32 teams have been “conveniently” divided into five unnecessarily complicated pots:
Pot 1: Brazil, Spain, Germany, Argentina, Colombia, Belgium, Uruguay and Switzerland
Pot 2: Chile, Ecuador, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Algeria, Nigeria and Cameroon (plus one side from Pot 4)
Pot 3: Australia, Iran, Japan, South Korea, Costa Rica, Mexico, Honduras and the United States
Pot 4: Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, England, France, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal and Russia.