The first step in the journey to World Cup success will occur on December 6, when the draw happens.
All eyes will be on Costa do Sauipe on December 6, when 32 nations will be anxiously awaiting the results of the 2014 World Cup draw. As with any sports event, luck is a necessary ingredient to any championship recipe, and each team will be hoping that they are the beneficiaries of the luck of the draw.
But how does the draw actually work?
For the answer to that question, just scroll down. Here’s a breakdown of how each group is constructed and analysis of the major teams from each of the “pots.”
The draw itself is fairly simple. The 32 teams are divided into four pots of eight teams. The pot system is used in an attempt to give the groups balance, both in terms of talent and geography. Each World Cup group is created by randomly selecting a team from each of the four pots, which leaves eight groups of four teams.
Pot No. 1 is the only one that is determined by ranking and performance, as the other three pots will be based on location.
Pot One: The Favorites
Pot One is made up of the host country (in this case Brazil) and the best teams in the world according to FIFA’s international rankings.
For the 2014 World Cup, Brazil isn’t actually ranked inside the top eight teams, so pot one is comprised of the top seven teams and Brazil.
There are a number of intriguing teams in pot one, like Belgium and Colombia, but most of them have the talent (but not the experience) to warrant such a high ranking.
The one real surprise has been the excellent form of Switzerland. They rely on their stingy defense to win games, but there are very legitimate questions about whether they’ll be able to generate enough offense.
Pot one contains the biggest favorites to win the whole tournament, with teams like Brazil, Spain, Germany and Argentina posing serious problems for other nations in the group stages.
Pot Two: The European Pot
The second pot will be made up of European nations. There are nine remaining European teams left in the draw, so pot two will be eight of those countries with the lowest-ranked team (France) spilling over into another pot.
The most dangerous teams from this pot that will contribute to a “group of death” scenario are Italy, Netherlands, Portugal and England. All those teams are extremely talented but have serious issues to deal with if they are to advance deep into the tournament.
Pot Three: CONCACAF and Asia
The third pot will be split between the four central American teams and the four Asian qualifiers. The United States, South Korea and Japan are the dangerous teams from this pot, while Mexico has been disappointing in the qualifying stages.
That said, the Mexican team is stocked with talent, so if (that’s a big if) they can get their act together, they could easily be the most dangerous team from this group.
Pot Four: The (Mostly) African Pot
The last pot will be made up of mostly African nations, with the remainder being the leftover European team (France) and South American teams (Chile and Ecuador).
France is the big name in this group, and they definitely have the talent to win the whole tournament. Unfortunately, they’re in a state of chaos and have shown a terrible lack of focus throughout the qualifying stages, and almost missed the tournament entirely.
Ghana is the other team from this pot that will be very dangerous. They are an offensive juggernaut with the depth and talent to score goals against anybody. Their defense is the biggest question mark, but the Black Stars will be disappointed with anything less than a trip to the round of 16.