What time is the World Cup draw – and how does it work?
This evening England will discover who they are up against and where they are playing
ENGLAND will discover their World Cup fate this evening when the draw for the group stages of the tournament takes place. Not only will they discover their opponents, but also where the games will take place – which could be just as significant. Roy Hodgson has already raised concerns about playing in the more tropical areas of Brazil.
Geoff Hurst, hero of the 1966 final, will be among the stars helping to draw the names of the teams from the four pots, other World Cup legends including Zinedine Zidane, Lothar Matthaus and Mario Kempes will be in attendance. But the damage could have been done even before the main draw, as there is a pre-draw in which England could end up being switched from the relative safety of the unseeded European pot to the one featuring some of the weakest teams in the competition.
Here's how it will pan out:
What time is the World Cup draw?
The fun begins on Friday afternoon in the popular holiday resort of Costa do Sauipe in Bahia. The main draw, overseen by Fifa general secretary Jerome Valcke, is scheduled to begin at 1pm local time, or 5pm GMT, after the draw to finalise the make-up of Pot Two (more of that later). The main event should, fittingly, take about 90 minutes.
How can I follow it?
It might be hard to avoid it. The BBC is certainly doing its bit to make sure everyone can keep up with the action. There will be live text commentary of the event on the BBC Sport website and app from 2pm (GMT), with Radio 5 Live covering the event from 4pm and live TV coverage from 4.30pm. It will also be live on Sky from 4pm.
How will it work?
On paper it sounds simple. The teams are divided into four pots of eight and one team from each pot is chosen for each group. Pot One is made up of the eight seeded teams, Pot Two contains unseeded teams from South America and Africa, Pot Three unseeded teams from Asia and and North and Central America, and Pot Four unseeded European teams. Unfotunately there are seven teams in Pot two and nine in Pot Four, so the pre-draw will lump one European team in with the South American and African nations.
So who is in what pot?
Pot One: Brazil, Spain, Germany, Argentina, Colombia, Belgium, Uruguay and Switzerland.
Pot Two: Chile, Ecuador, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Algeria, Nigeria, Cameroon, (plus one team from Pot Four)
Pot Three: Australia, Iran, Japan, South Korea, Costa Rica, Mexico, Honduras, USA
Pot Four: Bosnia, Croatia, England, France, Greece, Italy, Holland, Portugal, Russia (minus one team)
That sounds relatively simple. Is it?
No. The draw is actually "bafflingly complex" according to Eurosport. There is a rule that no more than two European teams can feature in the same group and that only one can come from South America. This means that some of the seeded teams will move into Pot X, to make sure they are kept away from other nations. Then there is the problem of the European nation in Pot Two. The group they appear in will have to have a non-European seeded team so that there is room for a team from Pot Four.
Will anything go wrong?
Fifa are doing their best to make sure it goes smoothly. There will be five full rehearsals before the event proper.
What about locations?
The draw will also decide where and when the various teams play. The dates, kick-off times and venues of the group matches have already been decided but the teams, with the exception of Brazil, who will be team one in Group A, do not yet know where they will end up. "The team that meet Brazil in the opening game - position A2 in the draw - will face a 3,880-km flight to Manaus in the Amazon for their next match before a 4,508-km flight to Recife for their third game," explains Eurosport.
What's the worst-case scenario?
Being the European team moved into Pot Two could be a disaster for England. It would mean they could end up in a group with Brazil, USA and Italy. Or Argentina, Mexico and Holland. If they remain in Pot Four they could still end up facing Spain, Chile and USA or Mexico. The most tropical venue is likely to be Manaus, so Hodgson will want to avoid being in Group A, D, E or G.
And the best?
If England avoid Pot Two then they could end up facing Switzerland, Algeria and Honduras. But be careful what you wish for. As the Daily Telegraph notes, England have a history of "struggling to get out of easy groups and thriving in what appear slightly tougher ones". ·