The World Cup 2014 draw is officially history, setting the stage for an epic array of group matchups set to kick off next June in Brazil.
Host nation Brazil will enter next summer's tournament as the odds-on favorite. According to Bet365.com, the Selecao are going off at 3-1 odds to win it all. Brazil's favorable draw certainly helps their chances, though, as they were able to avoid fellow heavyweights like Portugal, Italy and Holland.
As for the remaining favorites and their chances, here's a look at the eight groups ahead of June 12's opening ceremonies:
The top two teams from each group will advance to the knockout stage, which will commence with the Round of 16 on June 28:
*Odds according to Bet365.com.
Brazil were likely to be the best squad in Group A regardless of how the draw shook out. But a very favorable draw makes the host nation the clear-cut favorite in Group A next summer.
Meanwhile, both Croatia and Mexico are quality teams capable of making a run to the Round of 16. The edge has to go to Croatians at the moment, though, as El Tri have struggled to find their best form of late.
Cameroon appear to be in way over their heads and will be lucky to pick up a point.
Oddly enough, Group B features both of the 2010 World Cup finalists in Spain and Holland. Needless to say, the two heavyweights project to advance. Although Alexis Sanchez and Chile will be dangerous on South American soil, the Spanish and Dutch appear primed to advance to the knockout stage.
While Chile could surprise the favorites, Australia are poised to become the punching bag of this group.
Colombia are the class of Group C, which features three dark horses in Ivory Coast, Greece and Japan.
Falcao and Los Cafeteros will be mighty favorites to finish atop this group while the other three battle it out for second place. Look for the Japanese to emerge as the group's second-best squad at some point. The Asian qualifiers boast tremendous potential and have shown in recent matches against Belgium and the Netherlands that they are capable of topping the world's best.
Remember, the Samurai Blue have reached the Round of 16 at two of the past three World Cup tournaments.
In the case of Group D, one could argue that the D stands for "death." With Uruguay and two European powerhouses in Italy and England on board, one of the world's top teams is guaranteed to be headed home before the knockout stage.
Given La Celeste's potential and assuming Costa Rica finishes at the bottom, it's likely that the winner of Italy vs. England will be moving on with Uruguay from Group D.
It's fair to say that Switzerland drew a favorable group. Although France and Ecuador are both dangerous squads, the Swiss, who concluded 2013 in strong form, are the top-ranked team in their group.
Watch for Switzerland to advance from the group stage for the first time since 2006.
With Honduras sporting 1000-1 odds, according to Bet365.com, and Ecuador lacking experience on the big stage, France is most likely to join the Swiss in the knockout stage when it's all said and done in Group E.
Much like Brazil and Colombia, Argentina will be the class of their group next summer and the heavy favorite to finish atop the table with all nine points intact. La Albiceleste will take on Bosnia-Herzegovina, Nigeria and Iran in the group stage and will be favored in every match.
While Nigeria are a threat to reach the knockout stage, Bosnia-Herzegovina possess the talent to get there so long as they bring the same intensity they brought to UEFA World Cup 2014 qualifying.
Led by star striker Edin Dzeko, the Bosnians boast a wide-open offensive attack capable of taking them deeper than most expect.
Ladies and gentlemen, the "Group of Death."
With two nations ranked inside the top five of the FIFA World Rankings, three ranked inside the top 14 and all four ranked inside the top 24, the United States will need an unthinkable performance to advance.
Germany have to be the favorite to win Group G. After all, Die Mannschaft have reached the quarterfinals or better at each of the past eight World Cup tournaments and boast one of the planet's most potent offensive attacks.
With Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal a tier above the U.S. and Ghana, it's likely that the Americans and Black Stars will be watching the knockout stage from home.
Belgium can't be dissatisfied with their draw. Russia are no slouches, but South Korea and Algeria are beatable, to say the least.
The two European powerhouses should finish atop Group H. But the winner of Belgium vs. Russia will likely be best suited for a deep run, as they'll be able to avoid Germany in the Round of 16. Portugal would obviously be a much better draw to begin the knockout stage.
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