Just like that, we are one step closer to Brazil.
Friday marked one of the most important days of the World Cup (you know, outside of the actual matches), as FIFA determined the fate of all 32 countries hoping to hoist the prestigious trophy in Rio de Janeiro.
Granted, several countries really couldn't care less about their draw, and if anyone is anticipating a run to the World Cup final, they are going to have to go through the best squads in the world at some point.
Nevertheless, the draw has the unique ability to make a country's path to the knockout stage anything from simple to frightening.
With that out of the way, let's take a gander at the groups, as well as a look forward to June.
|Group||Team 1||Team 2||Team 3||Team 4|
|Date||Time (Local)||Time (ET)||Team||Team|
|Thur, Jun. 12||5 p.m.||4 p.m.||Brazil||Croatia|
|Fri, Jun. 13||1 p.m.||Noon||Mexico||Cameroon|
|Fri, Jun. 13||4 p.m.||3 p.m.||Spain||Netherlands|
|Fri, Jun. 13||6 p.m.||6 p.m.||Chile||Australia|
|Sat, Jun. 14||1 p.m.||Noon||Colombia||Greece|
|Sat, Jun. 14||4 p.m.||3 p.m.||Uruguay||Costa Rica|
|Sat, Jun. 14||7 p.m.||6 p.m.||Ivory Coast||Japan|
|Sat, Jun. 14||6 p.m.||6 p.m.||England||Italy|
|Sun, Jun. 15||1 p.m.||Noon||Switzerland||Ecuador|
|Sun, Jun. 15||4 p.m.||3 p.m.||France||Honduras|
|Sun, Jun. 15||7 p.m.||6 p.m.||Argentina||Bosnia-Herzegovina|
|Mon, Jun. 16||1 p.m.||Noon||Germany||Portugal|
|Mon, Jun. 16||4 p.m.||3 p.m.||Iran||Nigeria|
|Mon, Jun. 16||7 p.m.||6 p.m.||Ghana||USA|
|Tue, Jun. 17||1 p.m.||Noon||Belgium||Algeria|
|Tue, Jun. 17||4 p.m.||3 p.m.||Brazil||Mexico|
|Tue, Jun. 17||6 p.m.||6 p.m.||Russia||Korea Republic|
|Wed, Jun. 18||1 p.m.||Noon||Australia||Netherlands|
|Wed, Jun. 18||3 p.m.||3 p.m.||Cameroon||Croatia|
|Wed, Jun. 18||7 p.m.||6 p.m.||Spain||Chile|
|Thur, Jun. 19||1 p.m.||Noon||Colombia||Ivory Coast|
|Thur, Jun. 19||4 p.m.||3 p.m.||Uruguay||England|
|Thur, Jun. 19||7 p.m.||6 p.m.||Japan||Greece|
|Fri, Jun. 20||1 p.m.||Noon||Italy||Costa Rica|
|Fri, Jun. 20||4 p.m.||3 p.m.||Switzerland||France|
|Fri, Jun. 20||7 p.m.||6 p.m.||Honduras||Ecuador|
|Sat, Jun. 21||1 p.m.||Noon||Argentina||Iran|
|Sat, Jun. 21||4 p.m.||3 p.m.||Germany||Ghana|
|Sat, Jun. 21||6 p.m.||6 p.m.||Nigera||Bosnia-Herzegovina|
|Sun, Jun. 22||1 p.m.||Noon||Korea Republic||Algeria|
|Sun, Jun. 22||3 p.m.||3 p.m.||USA||Portugal|
|Sun, Jun. 22||7 p.m.||6 p.m.||Belgium||Russia|
|Mon, Jun. 23||1 p.m.||Noon||Australia||Spain|
|Mon, Jun. 23||1 p.m.||Noon||Netherlands||Chile|
|Mon, Jun. 23||5 p.m.||4 p.m.||Croatia||Mexico|
|Mon, Jun. 23||5 p.m.||4 p.m.||Cameroon||Brazil|
|Tue, Jun. 24||1 p.m.||Noon||Costa Rica||England|
|Tue, Jun. 24||1 p.m.||Noon||Italy||Uruguay|
|Tue, Jun. 24||4 p.m.||4 p.m.||Japan||Colombia|
|Tue, Jun. 24||5 p.m.||4 p.m.||Greece||Ivory Coast|
|Wed, Jun. 25||1 p.m.||Noon||Nigera||Argentina|
|Wed, Jun. 25||1 p.m.||Noon||Bosnia-Herzegovina||Iran|
|Wed, Jun. 25||4 p.m.||4 p.m.||Honduras||Switzerland|
|Wed, Jun. 25||5 p.m.||4 p.m.||Ecuadar||France|
|Thur, Jun. 26||1 p.m.||Noon||Portugal||Ghana|
|Thur, Jun. 26||1 p.m.||Noon||USA||Germany|
|Thur, Jun. 26||5 p.m.||4 p.m.||Korea Republic||Belgium|
|Thur, Jun. 26||5 p.m.||4 p.m.||Algeria||Russia|
Entire schedule courtesy of FIFA.com
Knockout Stages Bracket
Bracket courtesy of FIFA.com
|Match||Date||Time (local)||Time (ET)||Team||Team|
|1||Sat, Jun. 28||1 p.m.||Noon||Winner A||Runner-up B|
|2||Sat, Jun. 28||5 p.m.||4 p.m.||Winner C||Runner-up D|
|3||Sun, Jun. 29||1 p.m.||Noon||Winner B||Runner-up A|
|4||Sun, Jun. 29||5 p.m.||4 p.m.||Winner D||Runner-up C|
|5||Mon, Jun. 30||1 p.m.||Noon||Winner E||Runner-up F|
|6||Mon, Jun. 30||5 p.m.||4 p.m.||Winner G||Runner-up H|
|7||Tue, Jul. 1||1 p.m.||Noon||Winner F||Runner-up E|
|8||Tue, Jul. 1||5 p.m.||4 p.m.||Winner H||Runner-up G|
|Quarter 1||Fri, Jul. 4||1 p.m.||Noon||Winner Match 5||Winner Match 6|
|Quarter 2||Fri, Jul. 4||5 p.m.||4 p.m.||Winner Match 1||Winner Match 2|
|Quarter 3||Sat, Jul. 5||1 p.m.||Noon||Winner Match 7||Winner Match 8|
|Quarter 4||Sat, Jul. 5||5 p.m.||4 p.m.||Winner 3||Winner 4|
|Semi 1||Tue, Jul. 8||5 p.m.||4 p.m||Winner Quarter 1||Winner Quarter 2|
|Semi 2||Wed, Jul. 9||5 p.m.||4 p.m.||Winner Quarter 3||Winner Quarter 4|
|Consolation||Sat, Jul. 12||5 p.m.||4 p.m.||Loser Semi 1||Loser Semi 2|
|Final||Sun, Jul. 13||4 p.m.||3 p.m.||Winner Semi 1||Winner Semi 2|
|Winner||Runner-Up||Third Place||Fourth Place|
So much can happen in the next six months, so it's difficult to name a winner with any real confidence.
That being said, it would be wrong to start with any country but Brazil.
The Green and Yellow have suffered disappointing (by Brazil's lofty standards) quarterfinal exits in the last two World Cups. But when you combine their outstanding corps of young talent—from Neymar to Hulk to Oscar to Willian to David Luiz—with the fact that the tournament is being played on their soil, calling Luiz Felipe Scolari's squad anything but the favorite would be blasphemy.
With it taking place in South America, where it is extremely difficult for away squads to play, Lionel Messi and Argentina should also be taken very seriously, while Colombia—behind Radamel Falcao—are an extremely compelling sleeper.
Of course, you can never forget about Spain.
The champions from South Africa still need to find consistency up front, but having easily one of the best midfields in the world tends to make things easier. While the weaknesses of Vicente Del Bosque's squad were magnified when they got roasted by Brazil in the Confederations Cup final last June, La Roja's tiki-taka style will always be incredibly difficult to send home.
Who will win the World Cup?
Still, Germany, despite a very difficult group, are my early pick for the 2014 World Cup.
The Germans, who have lost just once in 2013 (a friendly against the United States in which most of the starters were absent), are always tough to deal with in a tournament setting, finishing in the top three in the last three World Cups.
And Joachim Low's squad is arguably deeper than any of those teams, boasting impressive talent on all three levels of the pitch. For now, I have them taking out Brazil in the final.
If you're looking for sleepers, there are plenty throughout this stacked field.
Netherlands are dangerous up front as usual, England are full of world-class players and France, which have always had loads of talent, seem to finally be jelling under Didier Deschamps and have an easy group.
Belgium, Italy and Uruguay are all intriguing choices, as well, although the two latter countries were dropped into the same group along with England.
June can't get here quickly enough.