The draw for the 2014 World Cup is a mere measure of hours away, so the sports world will continue to wait with impatient anticipation to see how the groups will shake out Friday.
Obviously, it's very difficult to predict what teams will be where, but at least given the alignment and the structure of the four pots, there are certainly teams that appear to have the inside track on favorable groupings.
Heading into the draw, here's an early look at which teams should be in line for beneficial results once the eight groups are announced later this week.
Obviously, as the reigning World Cup champions, the Spaniards will certainly be among the favorites to walk away with the sport's most coveted trophy in Brazil, and the draw may help their cause.
Using a random group simulator, it appears likely that Fernando Torres, Andres Iniesta and Co. will have a relatively easy time getting through the group stage, which definitely won't help their challengers.
Based on the odds, Spain's got a very good shot at being placed in a group in which England would be their most competitive opponent, and that would clearly be considered to be a helping hand to the Spanish squad.
There's enough skill here for this team to beat anyone, but being able to conserve energy against overmatched opponents would obviously enable this star-studded cast to be fresh for the high-stakes clashes in the later stages of the tournament.
By design, the host team are scheduled to avoid taking on any of the world's best in the group stage, and by the look of things, Neymar and the Brazilians will do just that.
Using the simulator, the United States have a decent chance at landing in a group alongside Brazil, and it's at least conceivable that Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey and the Americans will end up being the host's toughest in-group foe.
Sure, the United States are a squad that poses a threat to virtually any team, but does anyone really think that the red, white and blue have a realistic shot at beating Brazil on home turf?
In other scenarios, Brazil could face Mexico, Holland or France, but none would be favored to defeat Brazil—at least on paper.
In any case, expect Brazil to advance with relative ease, because quite simply, there aren't many sides on the planet that can keep pace with this immensely talented lineup.
And, if Brazil's got a less competitive group in Round 1, the home team should have no trouble waltzing to the knockout stage.
After falling to Spain at the 2010 World Cup, the Germans will be thankful that there's no chance that they'll face the defending champions in the group stage this time around.
With that being said, France, England and Italy are all lurking in the fourth pot, and there are potential early threats in the mix.
But assuming Mesut Ozil, Thomas Mueller and the rest of this gifted group can avoid Italy, which eliminated Joachim Loew's troops at Euro 2012, the Germans should cruise to the round of 16.
There's enough firepower here for the Germans to advance regardless of what nations are tasked with playing them in the stage, but given their ranking, Loew's bunch should push aside their early opponents with relative ease.
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