You need to be prepared before the craziness of the 2014 World Cup draw begins.
For those unaware, all 32 teams in the competition have been drawn into one of four pots.
Pot 1 features the seven seeded teams, as determined by FIFA, and the hosts for the tournament. Pot 2 is comprised of the African nations and those from CONMEBOL that aren't seeded. Pot 3 is CONCACAF and the Asian confederation. And Pot 4 is the remaining UEFA nations that aren't seeded, minus the country drawn into Pot 2.
But more on that in a little bit.
Here's a look at the four pots for the World Cup draw.
|Pot 1||Pot 2||Pot 3||Pot 4|
|Brazil||Ivory Coast||Japan||Bosnia and Herzegovina|
Getting in the right pot carries major significance.
If you're one of the seeded teams, you avoid encountering many of the tournament favorites in the group stage.
There's also the vaunted "Group of Death," a staple of every international tournament. This features at least three and usually four teams all capable of qualifying for the knockout stages. This year, you could hypothetically get Spain, Chile, Italy and the United States—none of whom rank lower than 15th in the FIFA rankings—drawn into one group.
The "Group of Death" is always great for the neutrals and terrible for supporters of the countries placed into the group.
With so many great teams strewn across all the pots, it's almost impossible for even the seeded teams to get what you'd consider an easy path to the round of 16.
The draw can itself can be a convoluted process. In order to help shed some light on how it's all done, you can read below for a more in-depth explanation.
Explaining the Draw Process
Let's get the easy stuff out of the way.
Since 2006, the hosts have been drawn first and placed in Group A, which, in this case, means Brazil will be in Group A to start the tournament.
The other seven teams are given seeds by virtue of having the highest FIFA ranking among the remaining teams in the tournament. For those wondering why Switzerland and Belgium would get a seed ahead of Italy, the announcement of the seeds was done in October, when the Swiss were seventh in the world and the Belgians fifth.
Once the teams from Pot 1 are drawn into Groups B-H, the fun begins.
Does Italy deserve to be seeded ahead of Switzerland and Belgium?
One of the more complicated aspects of this year's draw stems from the fact there are nine unseeded European teams. This complicates things, because, as ESPN's Dale Johnson explains, only two European countries can be drawn into one group.
The same thing happened in 2006. To remedy the situation, Serbia and Montenegro were placed in their own separate pot by virtue of being the lowest-seeded UEFA team.
This time around, FIFA is using a variation on that plan. It placed all nine of those unseeded teams into Pot 4, rather than singling out one country for exclusion from the outset. Of those nine teams, one will be drawn at random and placed into Pot 2.
Then what will happen is that a "Pot X" is created with Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil and Colombia. The European team put into Pot 2 will be placed with the South American team drawn out of "Pot X." This ensures that a maximum of two UEFA teams will be in each group.
From here on out, everything is pretty straightforward. A team from each pot will be drawn into each of the eight groups. There will be no more than two countries from one confederation in each group.
If you're still confused, everything will make sense when you watch it live on Friday.
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