The 32 participating nations will learn their fate in Costa do Sauipe next week, so Goal is giving you the rundown on what to expect from what promises to be a dramatic event.With the 2014 World Cup kicking off in just 189 days, the focus of the football world is slowly turning toward the draw for next summer's tournament, with national team coaches desperate to find out who their group opponents will be.
The highly anticipated event will take place Friday, Dec. 6, in Costa do Sauipe in the Brazilian state of Bahia, a wildly popular holiday location, and it should make for compelling and dramatic viewing.
The show is scheduled to start at 13:00 local time (11:00 am ET) and will be presented by Brazilian actors Fernanda Lima and Rodrigo Hilbert, with artists such as Margareth Menezes, Olodum, Alcione and Emicida providing the entertainment.
Additionally, World Cup legends Cafu, Fabio Cannavaro, Mario Kempes, Lothar Matthaus, Zinedine Zidane and Geoff Hurst will all be involved in the draw itself.
you can catch the World Cup draw live on Goal.
WHEN IS THE WORLD CUP ITSELF?
Next summer's tournament kicks off June 12 in Sao Paulo with Brazil already penciled in as one of the two participants in the opening game.
The group stage comes to an end June 26, with the final two Group H clashes to take place that evening.
The first games of the round of 16 will be held only two days later in Belo Horizonte and Rio de Janeiro, with the first knockout stage of the competition set to concluded July 1.
The four quarterfinals will then be staged July 4 and 5, while the semifinals take place July 8 and 9.
The 2014 World Cup winner will be crowned July 13 in Rio de Janeiro.
WHICH NATION IS IN WHAT POT?
The seven highest-ranked teams from October's FIFA World Ranking (Spain, Germany, Argentina, Colombia, Belgium, Uruguay and Switzerland) plus Brazil will all be seeded for the draw and will, therefore, be placed in Pot 1.
Pot 2 will consist of four teams from North America (USA, Mexico, Costa Rica and Honduras) plus the four qualifiers from the Asia section (Japan, Iran, South Korea and Australia), while Pot 3 will be made up of five African teams (Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Algeria, Nigeria and Cameroon), two from South America (Chile and Ecuador) and the lowest-ranked European country, France.
Finally, the remaining eight European nations (Netherlands, Italy, England, Portugal, Greece, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia and Russia) go into in Pot 4.
It is worth noting that a maximum of two teams from Europe will be permitted in each of the eight groups.
|Pot 3||Pot 4|
The make up of the pots, as shown above, means that a 'Group of Death' consisting of Brazil, USA, France and Portugal is a possibility.
Another high-profile pool would be one comprising Spain, Asian champion Japan, Africa Cup of Nations winner Nigeria and 2010 World Cup runner-up Netherlands.
On the other hand, next week's draw could also see Switzerland, Honduras, Algeria and Bosnia-Herzegovina bracketed together in a group that all four teams would no doubt relish.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Although the World Cup will be without stars such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden), Gareth Bale (Wales) and Robert Lewandowski (Poland), there will still be plenty of stellar names.
All three favorites for the FIFA Ballon d'Or - Lionel Messi (Argentina), Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) and Franck Ribery (France) - will be present.
Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie will be there for Netherlands, Italy has Andrea Pirlo and Mario Balotelli in the squad, Germany boasts Marco Reus and Mesut Ozil, Spain will take Andres Iniesta and Xavi, while players such as Neymar, Thiago Silva (Brazil), Edinson Cavani, Luis Suarez (Uruguay) and Radamel Falcao (Colombia) will all be there, too.
Not convinced just yet? How about Eden Hazard (Belgium), Yaya Toure (Cote d'Ivoire), John Obi Mikel (Nigeria) and Keisuke Honda (Japan)? The list goes on and on.
A total of 6,164,682 ticket requests had been received when the initial application period ended on Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013.
Requests were received from 203 different countries, with tickets for the opening match in Sao Paulo (726,067 requests) and for the final (751,165) in the Maracana stadium July 13 proving the most popular.
A total of 889,305 tickets were allocated to people from 188 countries during the random selection draw for the first phase of sales, while the remaining tickets available in the First Come First Served period (a total of nearly 1.1 million tickets) were sold out only seven hours after the window reopened.