FIFA World Cup draw opens door for game's big guns

Dec 07 2013, 16:47 IST
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FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke holds up the slip showing 'Netherlands' next to presenter Fernanda Lima during the draw for the 2014 World Cup at the Costa do Sauipe resort. (Reuters) FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke holds up the slip showing 'Netherlands' next to presenter Fernanda Lima during the draw for the 2014 World Cup at the Costa do Sauipe resort. (Reuters)
SummaryHost nation Brazil will kick off next year's soccer World Cup against Croatia in Sao Paulo on June 12.

The convoluted draw for next year's World Cup finals in Brazil on Friday produced a set of groups in which most of soccer's big guns will fancy their chances of reaching the knockout stages.

Group D, featuring former winners England, Italy and Uruguay, along with Costa Rica, is probably the exception, while Spain and Netherlands, who met in the 2010 final, will have to be well prepared to see off Chile and Australia in Group B.

Host nation Brazil will kick off the tournament against Croatia in Sao Paulo on June 12 and the favourites should be relatively happy with a Group A also containing Mexico and Cameroon as they seek their sixth title.

"We ended up in a strong group, one that gives you goose bumps," said Brazil captain Thiago Silva.

Fifa World Cup draw

"A strong African side, perhaps one of the best, Mexico, who have been a tough adversary for us, and Croatia, who are a strong team physically. It's very difficult but we're ready."

One former champion is sure to go out from Group D, with England against Italy in the jungle city of Manaus a mouth-watering opener for the two European sides.

"We know how good Italy are because we lost to them in the quarter-finals at the (2012) Euros," said England boss Roy Hodgson.

"The game is going to be tough from a climate point of view for both teams. We're both in the same boat."

Forward Diego Forlan, who helped Uruguay to the semi-finals in 2010, said: "In comparison with what other teams got, it's the hardest group of this World Cup.

"But you have to play the matches and at the last World Cup we were in a very complicated group but came through well."

FINAL REPEAT

World and European champions Spain begin their defence with a repeat of the physical 2010 final against the Netherlands in Rio's Maracana.

"We will have to be prepared right from the first day, focus ourselves," said coach Vicente Del Bosque, knowing the group runners-up are likely to face Brazil in the first knockout round.

"I expect that Brazil will be first in their group so we will have to take great pains to do the same," he added.

Germany will come face-to-face with their former striker and coach Juergen Klinsmann, now in charge of the United States, with Portugal and Ghana completing the Group G lineup.

"Of course, a special moment for me to play

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