The 2014 FIFA World Cup now seems just around the corner, with all 32 qualified nations now known and more specific details about the tournament filtering through.
It's a lot to take in, so we've kindly gathered everything in one place for you to make sure you don't miss out on a stat, fact or important date!
Here are 50 things you need to know about Brazil 2014.
Most important of all to know, of course, is the full list of 32 nations taking part.
So here they are, broken down by zones:
South America: Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, Chile and Uruguay
North/Central America and Caribbean: United States, Costa Rica, Honduras and Mexico
Asia: Japan, Australia, Iran and South Korea
Africa: Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Ghana and Algeria
Europe: Netherlands, Italy, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, Russia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, England, Spain, Greece, Portugal, Croatia and France.
The World Cup being held every four years usually allows a few nations to experience the event for the first time, through the natural cycle of improvement and decline of different countries. Of course, the more first-timers there are, the fewer there are left, too.
This time around, Brazil 2014 will witness just a single new nation at the finals, with Bosnia-Herzegovina ready to feature at their first major tournament.
They won the UEFA zone Group G to take their place in Brazil next year.
The 2014 World Cup will see matches take place in 12 different cities, more than any other finals on record.
From north to south, there will be games in Manaus, Fortaleza, Natal, Recife, Salvador, Cuiaba, Brasilia, Belo Horizonte, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paolo, Curitiba and Porto Alegre.
Twelve cities, 12 stadiums and some very distinct and different landscapes in the surrounding areas; the World Cup in Brazil will be a showpiece in a diverse country indeed.
As such a large country, it shouldn't come as a surprise to hear that temperatures, humidity and all-round conditions can vary hugely in Brazil when comparing, for example, Fortaleza (north) to Porto Alegre (most southern city).
B/R's Christopher Atkins provides a comprehensive rundown of how the different cities will compare here.
Manaus in the northwest is likely where humidity will be highest, and the temperatures there could be around the mid-30s Celsius, he reports.
European nations, on the other hand, might prefer Porto Alegre, where the average June temperature is around 19 degrees.
The stadia themselves are an array of the new and old, revamped and redesigned, the inner-town and the close-to-coast.
In full, the list comprises the following grounds:
Estadio Mineirao, Belo Horizonte
Estadio Nacional de Brasilia, Brasilia
Arena Pantanal, Cuiaba
Arena da Baixada, Curitiba
Estadio Castelao, Fortaleza
Arena Amazonia, Manaus
Estadio das Dunas, Natal
Estadio Beira-Rio, Porto Alegre
Arena Pernambuco, Recife
Estadio Do Maracana, Rio de Janeiro
Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador
Arena de Sao Paolo, Sao Paolo.
The smallest, by capacity, is Arena da Baixada, which holds around 28,000, while the Maracana will seat up to 89,000.
The stadium works can't be talked about without acknowledging the unfortunate and indeed tragic accident that occurred recently in Sao Paolo.
Two workers died when a crane fell and destroyed part of the stadium as it was putting up a section of a roof.
That stadium in particular will now have its deadline for completion put back until around February, but it is not the only one that is yet to be finished.
BBC News' Wyre Davies reported recently that up to half of the 12 stadiums are not yet complete and are potentially struggling to meet the deadline for being finished.
As football-mad a country as it is, not everybody in Brazil is happy about the World Cup.
Not the tournament itself, but the vast sums of money being spent on it.
The protests from civilians, seen during the Confederations Cup during the summer of 2013, are expected to go on up to the World Cup and perhaps even during it. As per BBC News, activists are reported as saying:
We're not against the World Cup itself, but how the process of the World Cup has been made here. The public haven't been involved in any of the decisions.
I think people are angry because of this huge investment [in the stadium] that won't really be useful after the World Cup. They could have done better things with the money, like investing in health and education which are bigger problems here now.
There shouldn't be any real reason to think that the population of Brazil will not be welcoming to visitors and be a big part of the tournament atmosphere while the World Cup takes place, but it is certainly worth remembering that the World Cup effects must linger on after the tournament is over with.
With that in mind, FIFA's constant message is that bringing a World Cup to a nation, or indeed a continent, can have long-term benefits.
Their Sustainable Strategy document, viewable online, details how the World Cup can have benefits in the future on both society and the environment.
Ethics, anti-corruption, transparency and accountability all figure prominently as keywords for FIFA's commitment to the country and the people within it, phrases and words that could come as quite a surprise (or an irony) to those who oppose or criticise the organisation for a distinct lack of every one.
Still, football is a massive pull to the youth of Brazil, and it would be hoped that the social impact can be a lasting (and positive) one.
How's your luck?
A further batch of tickets will be made available for sale on December 8 after the group stage draw has been made. In total, around three million tickets will be available for purchase for the entirety of the World Cup.
Prices vary depending on whether fans are overseas or Brazilian residents and, of course, depending on the stage of the competition and demographic of the purchaser. Group stage games start at €69 for overseas buyers and €11 for local residents, as reported by Henry Jackson of Goal.com.
A seat at the World Cup final itself will set you back a minimum of €335, with the highest cost reported at a staggering €755.
It's completely impossible to know how many fans each nation will bring, since many travel to the World Cup merely for the atmosphere, the celebration and to witness the tournament at close quarters without actually entering the stadium for a game.
However, FIFA have released a breakdown of which nations have bought the most tickets so far.
Naturally, Brazil have the lion's share, with around 62 percent of all tickets so far going to Brazilian residents.
The United States snapped up more than 65,000 tickets, England around 22,000 of the initial allocation and Germany 18,000. Australia, Canada, France and Colombia also all picked up more than 10,000 each, with Switzerland, Japan and Argentina further down the order.
There are no less than eight previous winners of the FIFA World Cup set to take part in Brazil 2014.
One of those, of course, is the host nation; Brazil have won the World Cup a record five times, the last of which came in 2002.
Italy (four wins), Germany (three), Uruguay, Argentina (twice each), England, France and Spain (once each) are the others.
Considering Brazil is seen by many as the spiritual home of football, it is perhaps surprising that this is just the second time that the World Cup will be staged in the country.
The fourth World Cup, in 1950, was held in Brazil, with Uruguay beating the hosts 2-1 in the last final group game to win the trophy.
The winning goal in that game, scored by Alcides Ghiggia, came just 10 minutes from the end of the game, where a draw would have seen Brazil lift the trophy on home soil instead.
Now, 64 years later, they will hope to amend that record.
The World Cup might only be in Brazil for the second time, but this will be the fifth time overall that it has been hosted on South American soil—and the first time since 1978.
On that occasion, Argentina won the tournament in their own country in front of their own fans.
Previous to that, Chile hosted the '62 final, won by Brazil; Uruguay, of course, won in Brazil in 1950; and the first-ever World Cup finals, held in 1930, took place in Uruguay. The host nation also won on that occasion.
In short, no nation from outside South America has ever won the World Cup on South American soil.
Extend that into North and Central America and the same pattern emerges, with only Brazil and Argentina winning tournaments hosted in Mexico (twice) and the United States.
Mark that date in your calendar, for that is when the draw for the group stages of the World Cup will be made.
Everybody will naturally be on the lookout for a so-called Group of Death, pitting four relatively big, hopeful nations against each other, while for the neutral, looking to see who gets to face Brazil is always exciting to anticipate.
The draw will take place in Bahia.
With the emphasis of the World Cup being to pit the best of each continent against each other, it is natural that FIFA would want to limit the occurrences where nations from the same zone face off.
As such, the group stages of the World Cup will not feature any two nations from the same qualifying zone in the same quartet, with the exception of European teams. Up to two European teams can be in the same group.
For example, in with Brazil (CONMEBOL) in Group A could be Japan (AFC), England (UEFA) and United States (CONCACAF)—but not Uruguay or Chile, who are also from the CONMEBOL zone.
A UEFA-based seed such as Spain could end up with an additional European team, however.
OK, firstly, kick-off times on the FIFA website are in local timezones.
Group games generally kick off at 1 p.m., 4 p.m. or 5 p.m., but there is plenty of variation along the way. Knock-out ties are at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m., with the final kicking off at 4 p.m. just to be awkward.
If you're based in central Europe, you'll need to add five hours on for your kick-off times. If the UK is your home, add only four. For Stateside folk on Pacific time, Brazil is six hours ahead. For Eastern time, that's just three hours ahead.
You best check.
Who doesn't love a photo of an armadillo with Ronaldo?
The 2014 FIFA World Cup mascot is named "Fuleco," as voted for by the Brazilian public.
He is an armadillo who can curl up into a (foot)ball and, according to his own website, he will be 14 years old at the time of the World Cup. He is a Brazilian three-banded Armadillo, apparently.
The blue shell represents Brazil's fertility and landscape, the skies and the water.
The official ball to be used at the 2014 World Cup is the adidas Brazuca.
You can see it here—though the actual ball is still being developed.
Like the mascot, the ball was named by public vote and will only feature for the finals.
The 2014 World Cup officially gets underway on Thursday, 12 June, at 5 p.m. local time.
Brazil, as hosts, will open the World Cup against one of their group opponents, as is customary.
The match will take place in Sao Paolo.
The entirety of the tournament will see the 32 nations take part in a total of 64 matches: 48 group stage games and 15 further knock-out stage games.
It will take precisely one month and one day for the entire World Cup to take place; 32 days of football festivities with only eight days in that period with no game scheduled.
Most days during the group stages will have three or four fixtures, with two knock-out matches played per day up until the semi-final stage.
The final of the 2014 World Cup will be played on Sunday, 13 July, at the Maracana Stadium, now revamped and rebuilt.
It has changed rather since hosting the final of the 1950 tournament, where an estimated 200,000 people crammed in to watch that game.
As per stadiumguide.com:
Building works started in 2010, and involved the complete rebuilding of the bottom tier and the installation of a new roof, with a capacity of 79,000 seats as a result. Maracanã is scheduled to host a total of seven matches during the 2014 World Cup, including one quarter-final and the final.
The Brazilian domestic season is notoriously long and nigh-on endless, as the state championships seamlessly give way to the national league title (and vice versa) with barely a break in between.
In 2014, Brazil hosting the World Cup means that there is going to be a full month where the domestic season is stopped entirely.
While players might be grateful for that, they are apparently not at being asked to play more games midweek in the mean time.
According to Andrew Dowine's Yahoo! Sports article, players are in discussions with the game's governing body about a shorter season with a four-week preseason, with further protests planned.
New kits have become a traditional part of the World Cup these days, with kit manufacturers eager to cash in on the global appeal of being part of the team.
Brazil have already released their kit, Spain have done likewise and many more, if not all 32 nations, will follow suit before June rolls around.
The 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa saw a total of 145 goals scored in the 64 matches. That's an average of almost 2.3 goals in each and every game, despite a total of 43 clean sheets being kept during the tournament.
Comparisons to past World Cups show we might expect a similar, or perhaps slightly lower, number in Brazil.
In Germany 2006, there were 147 goals (2.3 per game), in Japan/Korea 2002 we saw 161 (2.5 per game) and in France '98, an impressive 171 (2.7 per game).
The downward trend perhaps indicates the increased levels of organisation, tactical trends being nullified and the at-times slower pace of the international game.
Still, since we're so nice, here are all 145 strikes from 2010 for you to enjoy. Let's hope for plenty of the same quality in Brazil.
The official ambassadors for the 2014 FIFA World Cup are, unsurprisingly, all Brazilian.
Selected earlier this year in January, the World Cup-winning group includes Carlos Alberto, Amarildo, Bebeto and Ronaldo from the men's team, the legendary Marta from the women's team and Mario Zagallo, who won the World Cup both as a player and a manager with his nation.
"All in one rhythm"—that's the message and the slogan you can expect to see everywhere in Brazil during the tournament.
It should feature at the traditional opening and closing ceremonies, in the fan areas around the country and throughout the usual blaze of publicity and marketing material that accompanies such massive tournaments.
The slogan in Portuguese is "Juntos num so ritmo."
The World Cup, as an event, is an absolute goldmine for FIFA.
Their selected sponsors, or partners, pay a hefty amount to be associated with the tournament and, as such, their rights to be seen are fiercely protected by the organisers.
BBC Sport reported in 2012 how alcoholic drinks "must" be sold around the stadiums during the World Cup, despite Brazilian law forbidding alcohol at stadiums.
Budweiser are a major World Cup sponsor with FIFA, along with the likes of McDonald's, Castrol, Johnson and Johnson, Continental, Oi, Yingu and Moy Park.
There are many other general partners associated with FIFA aside from the official World Cup sponsors.
The actual World Cup trophy is currently on a tour of the globe, taking in 88 countries in 267 days ahead of the tournament.
Plenty of past World Cup stars have joined up along the way to show off the trophy, promote the World Cup itself and share their stories.
Until November 30, the trophy was in Tanzania, with South Africa the next scheduled stop.
It will spend much of December moving around Asia—Bhutan, India, Thailand and the like—before heading to South America in the new year. European countries will hog most of the next two months before the trophy heads to Korea Republic, China and Japan, with the final pre-tournament stop being the USA.
By April 21, the famous golden trophy should be back in Brazil, where it will presumably unpack its bags and rest on the beaches until the tournament starts six weeks later.
The "best" record in the World Cup can really depend on the criteria used, but for consistency and longevity, we'll take the most semi-final appearances of all time.
In that regard, Germany are the top team of the World Cup, having reached the last four on no less than 12 occasions, winning three titles along the way.
Brazil have achieved the feat on 10 occasions, Italy eight and France five.
Germany have also played the most games at the World Cup finals, 99—though Brazil have won the most, with 67.
It's a little strange to label any team as having the "worst" record because merely being at the World Cup finals indicates that a nation has a relative strength and is considered somewhere in the top 30 or 40 teams on the planet.
Even so, Mexico have two rather unenviable records to their name; they have been knocked out of the World Cup finals more times than any other nation (except one) without winning a single game. This has happened on six occasions: 1930, '50, '54, '58, '66 and '78.
Bulgaria are the "except one," with six similar exits suffered.
Mexico also have another record outright, that of suffering more World Cup finals defeats than any other nation.
In being beaten 24 times, they've certainly proved that they've played a lot of games at the finals, but it's also tough to take getting beaten time and time again on the major stage.
One thing the World Cup always brings is a host of bets on who will win outright, with the bookies' favourites not always necessarily in line with the best-performing sides.
Having said that, the heavy favourites are generally the better teams, and with reason.
Oddschecker.com currently have Brazil as the favourite for the outright winner, with Germany in second.
Argentina and Spain are also close, in third and fourth respectively, before a rather large jump in odds to the next group. Belgium, Holland, Italy and England are all there or thereabouts in the top 10, with Portugal, Colombia and France also in the mix depending on your bookmaker of choice.
Honduras are rank outsiders, with Iran, Costa Rica and Algeria also showing massive odds of winning.
The bookies might be backing home soil hosts, but take a look around social media, forums and indeed this very website and the majority appear to back Germany for victory.
With talent such as Philipp Lahm, Toni Kroos, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Manuel Neuer in the side, and Joachim Loew on the bench, it's not hard to see why.
FIFA's November release of the international rankings showed plenty of movement in the top 10 and just outside, though the top four remain unchanged.
That means Spain are still the No. 1 side in the world, and likely will be up to the start of the tournament with minimal international football to be played beforehand.
Only one nation ranked in the top 20 will not be at Brazil 2014: Ukraine (18). They fell to France in the UEFA zone play-off.
The lowest-ranked nations in each zone who have qualified for the World Cup are Cameroon (CAF, 51st), Honduras (CONCACAF, 41st), Chile (CONMEBOL, 15th), Russia (UEFA, 22nd) and the lowest-ranked nation of all, Australia (AFC, 59th).
Cast your minds back to the 2010 World Cup, when Frank Lampard saw his shot against Germany strike the crossbar, bounce to the ground and then be cleared.
Replays showed the ball to have clearly crossed the line, but none of the officials saw it. The "goal" wasn't given and England went on to lose 4-1. Of course, Germany were far better on the day and would likely have won regardless, but it was still a major talking point.
There should be no such uncertainties this time around, with goal-line technology in place for the first-ever FIFA World Cup.
Now we await to see if it'll actually be needed—and, more importantly, if it passes the test with the world watching.
The top seeds for the World Cup have now been confirmed, with FIFA acknowledging the eight nations who will head each of the groups next summer.
Brazil, as hosts, will naturally be one.
The other seven are Spain, Argentina, Germany, Colombia, Belgium, Uruguay and Switzerland.
Each of these eight nations will be assigned a group, with the other 24 nations split into their own pools and drawn alongside the top seeds.
With such an intensive fixture list to crash through, there is no time for draws to take place during the tournament.
Therefore, the knock-out stages are predetermined in terms of which teams will face each other.
The winners of Group A, for example, will face the runners-up from Group B in the first knock-out round, which is Match No. 49. The winners of Group C will play the runners-up of D, in Match 50.
At the quarter-final stage, we would then see the winners of Matches 49 and 50 face off against each other and so on.
Winners and runners-up of each group are kept on opposite sides of the knock-out stage to reduce the chances of playing the same team twice; group opponents can only meet again if both progress to the final.
You can see the full knock-out stage calendar here.
While the rest of the seeds will have to wait for the draw to see which group they will play in—and therefore which stadiums and cities they will frequent—Brazil already know they will be in Group A.
It is customary for the host nation to open the World Cup tournament with the first game and, as such, Brazil take their place in Group A to take part in the opening fixture.
They can also project ahead to see which stadiums they will play in if they finish top of their group: Belo Horizonte (1/16), Fortaleza (quarter-finals), Belo Horizonte again (semi-finals) and, of course, the final in Rio.
In 2010, South Africa exited the tournament at the Group Stage despite beating France 2-1 in the final group game.
They finished on four points, level with Mexico, but with an inferior goal difference to the Central American nation and so ended up taking third place, while Mexico progressed to the knock-outs in second.
Fast forward to the qualifying matches for the Africa Cup of Nations in 2011 and South Africa, perhaps anticipating the same rules, settled for a draw against Sierra Leone to finish level on points with both their opponents and Niger, confident that they had the best goal difference.
They did—but it didn't matter.
Head-to-head results are used in AFCON qualifying, not goal difference, and in that regard Niger, not South Africa, were the best team—so they went through and South Africa failed to qualify at all.
The moral of the story is probably best left at check the rules properly, but really, if in doubt just try to win the game!
Each competing nation will name a squad of 23 players.
This squad must feature three registered goalkeepers and 20 outfield players, and the finalised squad list must be submitted no later than 10 days before the start of the World Cup.
If a player in the squad suffers an injury before the first game of their country, they are allowed to be replaced, hence the usual "standby lists," but any injuries or suspensions sustained after the first match must be absorbed by the squad.
It's also worth recalling the mistakes of North Korea at the 2010 World Cup, as they tried to fill their third goalkeeper slot with an extra striker. It didn't work. Any player registered as a keeper can only play as a keeper.
One record that stands to be broken is that of the all-time record goalscorer at the World Cup finals.
The current holder is former Brazilian striker Ronaldo, who plundered a total of 15 goals during his days with the national team.
The only current player who is even vaguely within sight of that total is Germany's Miroslav Klose, who has 14.
Now aged 35, the Polish-born forward is Germany's joint-top scorer in history and, though he is not always a starter for his nation, could well feature in the squad if fit. A single goal at the finals would mean he is Germany's top scorer, while two would make him the same for World Cup history.
The squads are, of course, a long way from being finalised for the World Cup.
However, many nations will have a core group of players who, fitness permitting, are almost guaranteed a spot on the plane and who they will depend on for any relative success in Brazil.
For Croatia, one of their main men is Bayern Munich striker Mario Mandzukic—but it looks as though he will be the only player suspended for the start of the finals after being sent off for a terrible late and high challenge in the final qualifying match.
If his suspension is set at three games, a standard for violent conduct, Mandzukic would miss the entire group stage and there is every chance that Croatia would therefore opt not to take him.
Remember these things from the 2010 World Cup in South Africa?
Vuvuzelas were a huge feature from the last tournament, though whether they were a good thing or a bad thing tends to vary hugely depending on who you talk too.
In any case, the buzzing drone of the instrument will be replaced in Brazil by the Caxirola, a Maracas-like instrument that can be shaken to produce sound.
FIFA World Cup hosts get a chance, one year before the tournament, to host a mini event: the Confederations Cup.
This is to ensure that the stadiums, infrastructure and general set-up can take the influx of supporters, as well as give the hosts a chance to experience competitive football once again.
From last summer's event, only one nation will be missing at next summer's World Cup: Tahiti.
Brazil, Spain, Japan, Mexico, Uruguay, Italy and Nigeria were the other seven involved at the Confederations Cup and all will be present in Brazil next summer.
The World Cup is an event broadcast all over the world in close to 200 countries and territories, all of which have their own separate deals negotiated for radio, mobile, Internet and television coverage.
In the UK, the World Cup remains shown live on free-to-air channels. Other nations do the same, have pay-to-view or satellite subscription channels, or else a combination of both.
BBC and ITV will show the games in the UK. In USA, ESPN and ABC, along with Univision Communications, will screen games.
A full list is available here.
Winning the World Cup is the sporting pinnacle for most, but there is, of course, another side to the greatest sporting event on earth: a big, big prize fund.
The 2010 FIFA World Cup saw $8 million USD given to each nation just for being in the group stage, with the money going up rapidly as the knock-out phases went along.
Spain, as winners, were awarded $30 million USD.
FIFA has confirmed that the total prize money for the 2014 event will be $454 million USD. The split has not yet been confirmed.
Whether for the spectacular viewing, the fantasy football team points or to catch potentially the most exciting games, it's always worth knowing who can be relied on to hit the back of the net.
The highest scorers in qualifying who will be at the World Cup finals—assuming their nations pick them in the squad, of course—were Luis Suarez of Uruguay (11 goals) Robin van Persie of Holland (11), Edin Dzeko of Bosnia-Herzegovina (10), Oribe Peralta of Mexico (10) and Leo Messi of Argentina (10).
With 11 goals, Deon McCauley of Belize was the highest scorer who will not be at the finals.
The grass surfaces to be used inside the World Cup stadiums have not all been confirmed, but it appears that a combination of Bermuda grass and temperate sports turf will be the chosen hybrid.
PRNewswire.com reports on the Sao Paolo stadium using the DESSO grass system, which reinforces the natural grass surface with artificial fibres.
SeedQuest.com indicates that the DLF Group will be the company supplying and growing the seeds to be used in the stadiums.
This is a similar system to that used in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
The referees for the 2014 World Cup finals will likely be selected in around February time from a final list of prospective applicants.
At present, more than 150 referees and assistants, 52 teams of three officials in total, are on the list of potential officials.
Using the 2010 World Cup as a guide, this can expect to be cut to 30 teams to travel to Brazil next summer.
It is entirely possible that more than one team of officials from the same nation may be used at the World Cup finals, though they will not referee any fixture containing their home country, of course.
Plenty of managers are preparing to lead their nations into the World Cup for the first time, but a few have already been there once before with another country.
Iran's Carlos Quieroz took Portugal to the 2010 tournament, while Honduras' Luis Fernando Suarez was in charge of Ecuador in 2006. By contrast, Reinaldo Rueda is now at Ecuador having managed Honduras in 2010.
Fabio Capello, now at Russia, was England boss in 2010 and the United States boss, Jurgen Klinsmann, was in charge of Germany in 2006. Finally, Roy Hodgson was at Switzerland in '94 and now leads England, while Jose Pekerman took Argentina to 2006 and is now in charge of Colombia.
Be sure to check out B/R's Sam Tighe and his nation-by-nation rundown for a more complete look at the tactics favoured by each manager at the finals.
The 2014 FIFA World Cup is now less than 200 days away...and counting!