The 2014 Fifa World Cup takes place in Brazil, starting on 12 June and finishing on 13 July.
It will be the 20th time the tournament has been held and the first to take place in Brazil since 1950, when the host nation lost to Uruguay in the final, a day that is still considered a national tragedy in Brazil. Today will go some way to determining the prospects of the 32 participating nations when the draw for the group stage takes place.
Where is the draw? How can I watch?
The draw for next summer's World Cup finals takes place this Friday, 6 December, starting at 16:00 GMT (although if you have any experience of FIFA events you’ll know the balls won’t start being drawn for a while after that!). You can watch it live on the BBC 2 from 16:30, or through live text on the BBC website from 14:00.
Why should I watch?
There are two parts to this. Firstly, it’s just interesting. Secondly, the odds for teams could change dramatically based on the draw they get. And that could mean profit if you’ve already started your long term book on the world cup. A team finding itself in an easy group might mean a quick and early cash-out in what would ordinarily be a long term market. Likewise, teams finding themselves in the group of death will find their odds of performing lengthening. After the draw they’ll also be more markets opened up where you can bet on the outcomes of the groups as well as the overall result. Add to that the Golden Boot potential for decent strikers being drawn against weak group opposition and you’ve got all the reasons you need to tune in and see how the betting moves.
Pots for the World Cup draw
Pot 1: Brazil, Spain, Argentina, Belgium, Colombia, Germany, Switzerland, Uruguay.
Pot 2: Ivory Coast, Ghana, Algeria, Nigeria, Cameroon, Chile, Ecuador.
Pot 3: Japan, Iran, South Korea, Australia, United States, Mexico, Costa Rica, Honduras.
Pot 4: Bosnia-Hercegovina, Croatia, England, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Russia, France.
Seeds are in Pot 1 (don’t ask how Switzerland are there, it’s a strange system and there’s no space here for that). The un-seeded South American countries and the qualifiers from Africa are in Pot 2, Pot 3 is made up of the teams from Asia and North & Central America and the nine un-seeded teams from Europe are in Pot 4. There can be no more than two European teams in any one group and only one from South America. There is one small change to make to the pots, and you may have noticed, there’s an imbalance in the number of teams in the pots. Pot 2 has 7 teams, Pot 4 has 9. This means that one team from Pot 4 (non-seeded European teams which includes England) will be moved to Pot 2 before the main draw begins. The European team moved from pot 4 must play a South American team from Pot 1 (else we end up with a group with three European teams in it), which is where Pot X comes in.
What is Pot X?
The four South American seeds - Brazil, Uruguay, Colombia, Argentina - will be put into a temporary Pot 'X'. The three teams not drawn against the European team in Pot 2 will go back into the main draw.
But who’s drawing the balls?!
The balls will be drawn by famous players from previous tournament. These will include England's 1966 hat-trick hero Sir Geoff Hurst, France's Zinedine Zidane, Brazil's Cafu and Italy's Fabio Cannavaro. Pele turned down the opportunity to manage the draw, saying he didn’t want the responsibility of putting Brazil in a difficult group!
Who could England be drawn to play against?
Pretty much any combination of teams across the pots, that’s the way a random draw works. The first thing to sort out is whether they are the team moved to Pot 2 or not. If they are, then their worst case scenario would look like Brazil, USA and the Netherlands. The best case would be Columbia, Honduras and Bosnia-Hercegovina. If they remain in Pot 4 then they could face any of the top seeds. A good draw would be Switzerland, Algeria and Honduras. But if the Gods (or Blatter if you like a conspiracy theory) are against England then they might wind up with Spain, Chile and the United States.
Where are the games being played?
The World Cup starts with the opening game in Sao Paulo on 12 June 2014 and ends with the final in Rio on 13 July. In total 12 stadiums in 12 cities will host matches - providing they are all completed on time. Hodgson claims that he is more concerned about where his team are based, rather than who they are drawn against. The weather differences between the North and South will be marked, one has a European climate at this time of year, the other tropical. In addition there’s potentially far more travelling in some groups than others as the world cup road show gets around Brazil.
When are World Cup squads finalised?
Nations must submit their 23 man squad list 2 June 2014. Prior to that they must also submit a 30 man list by 13 May 2014 (just after the premier league season finishes).
What are the World Cup odds?
Let’s keep this to the top 12 teams shall we, else we’re going to be here all day, and the winner will be quite the shock. The link to the BetFair market is Here, along with some of the better odds from around the bookmakers below.
Brazil – 7/2 (Favourite) BetVictor
Germany – 11/2 SkyBet
Argentina – 69/11 BetFair
Spain – 6/1 widely available, 130/19 BetFair
Belgium – 16/1 widely available, 171/10 BetFair
Holland – 22/1 YouWin
Italy – 24/1 BetFair
Colombia – 28/1 Coral
England – 28/1 YouWin
Uruguay – 30/1 YouWin
France – 33/1 SkyBet
Portugal – 35/1 BetFair
Top scorer markets are a bit of a crap shoot, and it’s so soon the market has only just opened on BetFair (£9 matched at 8:42 today). Not surprising given it’s so far away and any little niggle or injury could play a part, as well as the draw itself. That said, it’s a who’s who of world class strikers.
The Betfair market is Here again, with the best of the rest at the odds below.