All participants are confirmed. The 32 countries that will make up the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil next year booked their places after the final qualifiers concluded in November.
The next step on Brazil's World Cup agenda is the group stage draw, due to take place this Friday, December 6.
The setting: the picturesque Costa do Sauipe, in the northeastern state of Bahia, accompanied by a host of celebrity names to mark the beginning of the final countdown to Brazil 2014 in spectacular fashion.
The draw will begin at 1 p.m. local time (11 a.m. ET, 4 p.m. GMT) and is set to be broadcast across 193 countries, according to FIFA.com. Over 1,300 guests and 2,000 journalists will witness the event, with millions tuning in worldwide as football's most glorious competition takes one step closer.
Rest assured, Friday's spectacle will be more than pulling names out of a hat. Keeping in line with the country's well-known love of football and celebration, the entire afternoon will be one enormous show.
A 90-minute musical performance, featuring some of the biggest names in Brazil, preludes the sporting necessities, and those at the draw will be able to mingle amongst a squad of Brazilian sporting idols both past and present.
Brazilian pop singers Alexandre Pires and Vanessa da Mata will perform, as well as contemporary dance group Companhia de Danca Deborah Colker. Actors Fernanda Lima and Rodrigo Hilbert will present proceedings as the country goes all out to put on a show that will give the world a taste of what is in store come kick-off in June.
Pele, Ronaldo and Bebeto are all set to be in Salvador, as is current Selecao coach Luiz Felipe Scolari (pictured above) as he finds out the first challengers to his World Cup quest.
The aim of the hyperbolic introductions is to combine the five traits that make Brazil the unique offering it is: cohesion, innovation, a lush green nature, vibrancy and happiness. The official slogan of the 2014 World Cup is “All in One Rhythm,” and according to FIFA.com, the theatrics have been designed with these marked characteristics in mind.
Brazil want this draw to be more than a simple ceremony.
It is designed to show the world that the nation is capable of putting on an awesome event, riding above the protests that marred the Confederations Cup earlier this year and the seemingly constant barrage of negative headlines involving its World Cup preparations.
But the World Cup draw is not only a celeb fest.
It is the day for the ordinary fan to start to dream. Once the groups are decided, supporters across the planet can begin to plan, predict and debate amongst friends and colleagues, whether that be a route to the final or a route to a stadium.
At this stage, everyone dares to dream, but there is added spice in Brazil as 2013 draws to a close and we approach World Cup Year. The most successful country in the tournament's 83-year history, the Selecao Brasileira is arguably under more pressure this time around than ever before.
In normal circumstances, success is expected; next year, it will be demanded.
Since their last triumph in 2002, Brazil's recent showings at World Cups have been less than impressive, suffering quarter-final exits in 2006 and 2010 to France and Holland, respectively.
Which is perhaps why some Brazilian journalists and fans erred on the side of caution when asked for their group opponent preferences. Political and historical writer Rafael Cal opted for an easy group in the hope it would build confidence for the latter stages.
“Iran, Chile and Croatia would be a great group for Brazil. It would give the team a firm base on which to build for the knockout rounds without suffering pressure from the beginning,” he said.
In many ways, these days prior to the actual draw are more exciting—the speculating, the planning, the rationalisation, the ifs, buts and maybes.
Whilst Friday afternoon is far from an ideal hour for workers to take a break, social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter are likely to go into overdrive during the draw, keeping those away from Salvador informed at the touch of a button.
But before Friday lunchtime rolls around, savour the anticipation while you still can. Because afterward, the real business of World Cup scheming can begin in earnest.
All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise stated.
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