How the World Cup draw works
The draw for the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil takes place today.
- Related Content
The teams have now been divided into four pots with one from each being placed in each group. FIFA have also announced the exact rules of what can and can't happen in the draw.
With the countdown to the draw well and truly on, our Andy Schooler brings you all you need to know about it and the rest of Brazil 2014.
HOW THE DRAW WORKS
The draw for next summer's World Cup finals takes place on Friday in Costa do Sauipe from 1600 GMT.
England are not among the seeds so could be drawn in the same group as hosts Brazil or holders Spain. A more favourable draw would see them placed alongside Switzerland.
As hosts, Brazil were automatically seeded and have already been placed in Group A, taking spot A1 in the draw. Spain, Germany, Argentina, Colombia, Belgium, Switzerland and Uruguay have also been seeded on the basis of their October FIFA ranking.
Those teams will be in Pot 1 for the draw. The other pots have been determined upon "sports and geographic factors" by FIFA's World Cup Organising Committee which met on Tuesday.
The pots in full are:
Pot 1: Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Colombia, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, Uruguay
Pot 2: Algeria, Cameroon, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Chile, Ecuador (plus one currently in Pot 4)
Pot 3: Australia, Iran, Japan, South Korea, Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico, USA
Pot 4: Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, England, France, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Russia (one team will be moved into Pot 2)
As you will see, Pot 4, made up entirely of European nations, currently has nine teams and Pot 2 only seven. At the start of the draw, one team from Pot 4 will be drawn at random and placed into Pot 2 to balance things out.
The draw will then be staged according to the principle that teams from the same confederation cannot be drawn in the same group (ie two South American teams cannot be placed in the same group). The exception to this is the European confederation - due to the number of European qualifiers, two teams from the UEFA region will be allowed in the one of the groups.
To ensure the principle is adhered to, the European team which ends up in Pot 2 is already guaranteed to be put in the same group as a South American team from Pot 1. Again, that will happen towards the start of the draw.
At this point it is worth noting that the teams from Pot 1 will be placed in the slots A1-H1 in the draw and fixture template. However, the teams in Pot 2 will not automatically be allocated positions A2-H2; the same rule applies for Pots 3 and 4. Instead, their positions in the template will be decided at random. For example, a team drawn into Group A from pot 2 could take position A2, A3 or A4 in the draw template. A link to the full fixture template can be found below.
Got it? Good.
With all this now sorted, a good group for England would appear to be Switzerland, Honduras and Algeria. A worst-case scenario could be considered to be Brazil, Netherlands and USA.
WHEN AND WHERE
The finals themselves take place in Brazil from Thursday June 12 to Sunday July 13 next year.
With kick-off times ranging from 1700 BST to 0200 BST - 1300 to 2100 in local times - UK-based fans will be in for some late nights. However, the majority of games start at either 1700 BST or 2100 BST, while the final is a 2000 BST kick-off.
Matches will take place at 12 venues around the country - Belo Horizonte, Brasilia, Cuiaba, Curitiba, Fortaleza, Manaus, Natal, Porto Alegre, Recife, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador and Sao Paulo.
Given the sheer size of Brazil, plenty of travelling will be involved. The group stages have not be localised to much extent so fans could have to travel up to 3,000km between games - that's roughly four hours in a plane. As a result, conditions will vary hugely.
England boss Roy Hodgson said earlier this week that he was more concerned about where his side would play than who they would actually face. This is because matches in the north of the country will likely be played in hot, humid conditions, particularly those scheduled in the afternoon, as was proven at this summer's Confederations Cup.
In this sense, Fortaleza, Natal and Manaus - the latter neighbours the Amazon rainforest - will be venues for England to avoid. In contrast, games in the south, in places such as Sao Paulo, Curitiba and Porto Alegre, should be much cooler affairs. The time of day a match is played will also have a big effect on conditions.
With this in mind, England would probably prefer to be drawn in Group B, which largely avoids the northern venues. Group H would also be favourable but A and G are ones to avoid from a conditions perspective.
The full fixture schedule, as it stands, can be found by clicking here.
It is worth noting that organisers have the right to amend the schedule following the draw and there have been suggestions that afternoon kick-offs in the north could be switched with evening kick-offs in the south.
The opening game, which will feature the hosts, won't be changed though. It will take place in Sao Paulo, with the final in Rio's Maracana stadium - the biggest of the grounds with a capacity of 73,531.
Hosts Brazil, who won the Confederations Cup on home soil this summer, are Sky Bet's 100/30 favourites at present.
Holders Spain are offered at 11/2, the same price as Argentina and Germany.
England are joint ninth favourites at 25/1, the same price as Uruguay. Those odds put them behind Belgium (16/1), Italy (16/1), the Netherlands (18/1) and Colombia (22/1) in the betting.
Argentina's Lionel Messi is the current Golden Boot favourite at 11/1.
A full list of World Cup odds is available on Sky Bet's website.
International friendlies are scheduled for March 5. England will host Denmark, who failed to qualify for the finals, at Wembley on that date. That game will be Roy Hodgson's last chance to assess his players before naming his 30-man squad for Brazil.
The qualifiers will all play warm-up games between May 26 and June 11 to fine-tune their preparations for Brazil. Hodgson's men are due to play a game at Wembley before crossing the Atlantic, while a USA v England clash in that period has already been mooted.
Almost 1.1million tickets for the tournament have already been sold.
For those still fancying a trip to Brazil, the sale process will reopen on Sunday (December 8) when tickets to all matches will be sold using a ballot system.
Members of the official England supporters' club, englandfans, will be able to apply for tickets for England's games via the FA once the draw for the finals has been conducted.
Full details of ticketing can be found on FIFA's website.
Each country will be able to take a 23-man squad to Brazil. These must be named by June 2.
Before then, the finalists must give FIFA a 30-man list by May 13 - two days after the Premier League season finishes. The final 23 must be chosen from this list.
Replacements can only be made after the deadline due to injury and such a change must be approved by FIFA. This happened in the England camp prior to the last World Cup when Rio Ferdinand was injured in training and was replaced by Michael Dawson.