Football: World Cup Draw

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Form guide to the 32 competing nations

Argentina

Fifa world ranking: 19.

Appearances in finals: 11 (1930-34, 1958-66, 1974-94).

Best performances: Winners 1978, 1986.

As winners in two of the last five finals, Argentina can not be written off. Under Daniel Passarella, they topped the nine-team South American group, even if defeats by Ecuador and Bolivia hardly suggest a world-beating force. Much depends on Diego Maradona's successor, Ariel Ortega, and striker Gabriel Batistuta. But quality in depth is lacking and disciplinary problems persist: three sent off v Peru in June.

Austria

Fifa world ranking: 26.

Appearances in finals: 6 (1934, 1954-58, 1978-82, 1990).

Best performance: Third place 1954.

Qualification was a reward for patience. Herbert Prohaska failed to get Austria to USA 94 or Euro 96, but was allowed to carry on building a rugged, organised side who draw heavily on players based in Italy, Spain and Germany. Werder Bremen's Andreas Herzog will be at home among the thoroughbreds in France, while old warhorse Toni Polster, of Cologne, recently overhauled Hans Krankl's record of 33 goals for his country.

Belgium

Fifa world ranking: 41.

Appearances in finals: 9 (1930-38, 1954, 1970, 1982-94).

Best performance: Fourth place 1986.

Although they have reached a fifth successive finals, a run to the last four as in 1986 appears beyond George Leekens' ordinary team. The excellent Luc Nilis, of PSV Eindhoven, forms a lively attacking duo with Brazilian- born Luis Oliveira, but with Enzo Scifo past his prime the service may be inadequate. Two three-goal thumpings by the Dutch and slender wins v Wales (2-1, 3-2) give a true picture of their potential.

Brazil

Fifa world ranking: 1.

Appearances in finals: 15 (1930-94).

Best performances: Winners 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994.

Mario Zagallo's squad is so strong even Juninho may miss out. Winning the Copa America honed their competitive edge, as well as demonstrating that Romario (back for the first time since the '94 final) could bring the best out of Ronaldo. Stop those two and there's Rivaldo, all poise and power; Denilson, the planet's most expensive player; and Roberto Carlos, who moves a ball in the air like no one since Derek Underwood.

Bulgaria

Fifa world ranking: 24.

Appearances in finals: 6 (1962-74, 1986, 1994).

Best performance: Fourth place 1994.

In Bulgaria's first five finals, they played 16 times without winning. The sequence ended with a vengeance in 1994. Yordan Lechkov, Emil Kostadinov and Trifon "Wolfman" Ivanov are still around, the latter as captain; and - surprise, surprise - Hristo Stoichkov made peace with coach Hristo Bonev in time to clamber aboard. With a history of internal strife and an old team, lightning will struggle to strike twice.

Cameroon

Fifa world ranking: 51.

Appearances in finals: 3 (1982, 1990-94).

Best performance: Quarter-finals 1990.

The "Indomitable Lions" are arguably Africa's weakest finalists. Roger Milla's class of '90 beat holders Argentina and came within two Lineker penalties of the semis but, judging by the recent 2-0 defeat to England, the current crop are unlikely to improve greatly on a poor '94. Patrick Mboma, a striker based in Japan, and Jacques Songo'o, a goalkeeper in Spain, offer the best hope of respectability.

Chile

Fifa world ranking: 17.

Appearances in finals: 6 (1930, 1950, 1962-66, 1974, 1982).

Best performance: Third place 1962.

Chile have not won in the finals since they were hosts in '62 and also lost all three group games in the Copa America last summer. They were, however, without the two players who could turn them into dark horses in France. Ivan Zamorano, Ronaldo's colleague in Milan, amassed 12 goals in qualifying, while Marcelo Salas hit 11 to attract interest (if not yet the pounds 13m offer his club seek) from Manchester United.

Colombia

Fifa world ranking: 9.

Appearances in finals: 3 (1962, 1990-94).

Best performance: Second round 1990.

Tipped by Pele to win USA 94, their mediocre performance was followed by the murder of own-goal scorer Andres Escobar. His old colleagues soldier on - Carlos Valderrama, who now has more than 100 caps, Freddy Rincon and Tino Asprilla - but a trouble-free tournament looks Colombia's best hope. Dedicating a goal to two jailed drug barons, as Anthony De Avila did after beating Ecuador, did not bode well.

Croatia

Fifa world ranking: 21.

First appearance in finals.

Croatia's war-torn history means national pride is a motivating factor. They made the quarter-finals of Euro 96 before losing to eventual winners Germany; now, having beaten Ukraine in a play-off, they can grace the global stage. Miroslav Blazevic relies chiefly on exiles, and in Alen Boksic and Davor Suker he has forwards who make them a good bet to emulate the surprise impact of Sweden and Bulgaria in the US.

Denmark

Fifa world ranking: 8.

Appearances in finals: 1 (1986).

Best performance: Second round 1986.

If not as good as the "Danish Dynamite" side who peaked too soon in Mexico, or the Euro 92 gatecrashers, Bo Johansson's squad should still be a credit to a nation of five million people and three full-time clubs. Peter Schmeichel and Brian Laudrup give them presence at both ends, Marc Rieper and Morten Wieghorst the solidity in between. The once-magical Michael Laudrup may also have a few tricks left up his sleeve.

England

Fifa world ranking: 6.

Appearances in finals: 9 (1950-70, 1982-90).

Best performance: Winners 1966.

Glenn Hoddle says England are feared and, for once, there is no reason to dismiss a national coach's optimism as wishful thinking. Much may depend on Alan Shearer's fitness, but if there is strength in depth it is among the strikers and emulating the semi-final place of Italy 1990 is attainable. The squad is young, which in a 32-nation finals could be vital.

France

Fifa world ranking: 7.

Appearances in finals: 9 (1930-38, 1954-58, 1966, 1978-86).

Best performance: Third place 1958, 1986.

When they last hosted a major tournament, in '84, they took the European title. Aime Jacquet's grafters have prompted damning comparisons with the panache of Platini, Tigana and Giresse - echoes of England in the build-up to 1966 and all that. Like Alf Ramsey, Jacquet has a strong defence and in Zinedine Zidane a playmaker with more than a frisson of flair. Now he needs to find his Geoff Hurst.

Germany

Fifa world ranking: 2.

Appearances in finals: 14 (1934-38 as Germany; 1954-90 as West Germany; 1994 as Germany).

Best performance: Winners 1954, 1974, 1990.

Despite being unbeaten in 18, the European champions drove Berti Vogts to distraction in qualifying. Northern Ireland drew in Nuremberg and Albania gave Ukraine a glimpse of France by leading and twice levelling before Oliver Bierhoff's last-gasp winner. Jurgen Klinsmann is among five survivors from Italia '90, and after the American aberration the onus is on the old guard to restore Germany's standing.

Iran

Fifa world ranking: 50.

Appearances in finals: 1 (1978).

Best performance: First round.

Enjoyed initial success in the Asian section with the long ball to Ali Daei, but Saturday's draw in Melbourne was their sixth consecutive qualifier without a win. They now have a Brazilian coach, Valdier Vierra, and Bundesliga players in Karim Bagheri and Khodadad Azizi. Mark Bosnich admitted they were Australia's hardest opponents. Scotland, wounded by the 1-1 draw in '78, would certainly not underrate them.

Italy

Fifa world ranking: 10.

Appearances in finals: 13 (1934-54, 1962-94).

Best performance: Winners 1934, 1938, 1982.

The crisis that consumed Italy after England drew in Rome has been only partly assuaged by play-off success. The Azzurri stand condemned for tactical ineptitude; Cesare Maldini for failing to settle on a striking duo. It all sounds similar to four years ago, but Italy went on to take Brazil all the way to penalties in LA. Two goals conceded in 10 unbeaten qualifiers suggests that they could yet come good again.

Jamaica

Fifa world ranking: 39.

First appearance in finals.

"The Reggae Boyz" have a samba feel: a Brazilian coach (Rene Simoes), gold and green strip, slow build-up followed by explosive bursts, and exuberant fans. They have also exploited English immigration well, recruiting Deon Burton, Robbie Earle and more. Marley's "One Love" is their anthem - they so often win by that score - and any snow-free country that enters bobsleigh in the Olympics is not to be sniffed at.

Japan

Fifa world ranking: 18.

First appearance in finals.

The joint hosts of 2002 scraped into their first finals with a goal in the last minute of extra time against Iran last month. They have two better than average forwards in former Serie A player Kazu Miura and Brazilian Wagner Lopes but little else other than enthusiasm. The big countries will welcome them into their groups as qualification fodder. Their destiny is to be overrun.

Mexico

Fifa world ranking: 11.

Appearances in finals: 10 (1930, 1950-70, 1978, 1986, 1994).

Best performance: Quarter-finals 1970, 1986.

The power in the Concacaf pool - this is their 11th finals after losing one qualifying game in 16 - they usually get swallowed by the bigger fish. Quarter-finalists only when they have hosted the tournament, their cause was not helped when they sacked their coach last week. Manuel Lapuente will guide "El Tricolor" in France, probably straight on to the plane home after the qualification phase. Much will depend on playmaker Alberto Garcia Aspe.

Morocco

Fifa world ranking: 16.

Appearances in finals: 2 (1970, 1986).

Best performance: Second round 1986.

The self-styled Atlas Lions are in their fourth World Cup proper and in coach Henri Michel they have someone who has guided a team, France, to the semi-finals in 1986. They have drawn with Croatia, beaten Nigeria and lost narrowly to Brazil in recent matches - and the Moroccans are just the sort of underrated team who inflict surprises en route to meritable failure. Scotland beware.

Netherlands

Fifa world ranking: 12.

Appearances in finals: 6 (1934-38, 1974-78, 1990-94).

Best performance: Runners-up 1974, 1978.

They fight like alley cats, and that is just among themselves. If you want to find the least harmonious squad in France then look no further than the Dutch, but if they do concentrate on the opposition they could surpass the 70s sides of glorious memory and win their first World Cup. Bergkamp, Kluivert, Davids, Overmars: only Brazil and Nigeria will be better blessed by natural ability.

Nigeria

Fifa world ranking: 71.

Appearances in finals: 1 (1994).

Best performance: Second round 1994.

The Super Eagles were brought to earth in USA 94 by Italy in the second round, although they were leading with two minutes to go. The Olympic champions, they dominated a qualifying group that also included Kenya and Guinea and look the best of the African qualifiers. Talented but defensively naive, Terry Venables' possible appointment as coach makes them even more intriguing.

Norway

Fifa world ranking: 14.

Appearances in finals: 2 (1938, 1994).

Best performance: Second round 1994.

Leonhardsen, Solskjaer, Ostenstad... so many Norwegians play in the Premiership their team will be more familiar to English eyes than Scotland. Fast and hard-tackling, they romped through their qualifying group (21 goals for, 2 against) and are just the sort of underdogs no team will want to meet. If they can marry guile to strength, the quarter-finals are viable at least.

Paraguay

Fifa world ranking: 30.

Appearances in finals: 4 (1930, 1950, 1958, 1986).

Best performance: Second round 1986.

Paraguay were the surprise package of South American qualifying coming second behind Argentina with nine wins from 16 matches. Defensively minded, they strike on the counter, which may not be compulsive viewing, but they do have a goalkeeper, Jose Luis Chilavert, who goes forward even more than Schmeichel and scores goals at set-pieces. Difficult to beat, they could reach the second round but should progress no further.

Romania

Fifa world ranking: 5.

Appearances in finals: 6 (1930-38, 1970, 1990-94).

Best performance: Quarter-finals 1994.

English astonishment at Romania's seeding overlooks appearances at the last three finals, including a quarter-final place last time. They comfortably shook off the Republic of Ireland in qualifying - nine wins, one draw - and in Gheorghe Hagi and Marius Lacatus they have world-class players on the biggest stage for the last time. Skill they will have in abundance, but tiredness might drag them down.

Saudi Arabia

Fifa world ranking: 34.

Appearances in finals: 1 (1994).

Best performance: Second round 1994.

Surprised Belgium last time and are capable of upsetting others in France, although an avalanche of goals is unlikely. Coached by the German, Otto Pfister, they scored just eight times in in eight second-round qualification matches although, like Japan, they got to the finals ahead of Iran. Unlikely to do much other than unspectacularly make up the numbers.

Scotland

Fifa world ranking: 36.

Appearances in finals: 7 (1954-58, 1974-90).

Best performance: First round.

Consistency and clean sheets are not normally the Scots' strongest suits. Craig Brown has changed all that. His next trick must be to go beyond the group stage and lose the hated "gallant failures" tag. Fine goalkeeping, mean defence and Gary McAllister's guile will help, along with meticulous planning and squad spirit. Scoring is the snag, making Kevin Gallacher's fitness and form unexpectedly crucial.

South Africa

Fifa world ranking: 35.

First appearance in finals.

No African team is complete without a nickname and theirs is Bafana, Bafana (Boys, Boys). This is their first finals and their winning of the African Nations' Cup last year underlines their potential, as did their performance against England at Old Trafford. Mark Fish and Eric Tinkler are in the Premiership but you fear for a team whose principal striker is Phil Masinga, who hardly set the world alight at Leeds.

South Korea

Fifa world ranking: 31.

Appearances in finals: 4 (1954, 1986-94).

Best performance: First round.

South Korea's record is lamentable - no wins in 11 matches - but their qualification record is enough to make England envious, as they have reached four consecutive finals. A win over Norway and a draw with Yugoslavia this year suggests they are nobody's mugs and at USA 94 they drew with Spain and Bolivia before losing 3-2 to the Germans. Even so, first-round failure beckons again.

Spain

Fifa world ranking: 3.

Appearances in finals: 9 (1934, 1950, 1962-66, 1978-94).

Best performance: Fourth place 1950.

The ultimate underachievers of the World Cup, Spain have had more than their fair share of talent but they have to go back to 1950 for their best performance in the finals, fourth. Even Alfredo Di Stefano could not coax anything better out of them, so it is unlikely that Real Madrid's Raul Gonzalez will be able to do better. Great clubs, shame about the national side.

Tunisia

Fifa world ranking: 23.

Appearances in finals: 1 (1978).

Best performance: First round.

It will be 20 years since Tunisia last graced the finals, and when they flopped as hosts of the African Nations' Cup in 1994 it looked like another 20 years would pass before they got there again. Coach Henri Kasperczak changed that and they qualified easily out of a group that included Egypt, Namibia and George Weah's Liberia.

United States

Fifa world ranking: 29.

Appearances in finals: 5 (1930-34, 1950, 1990-94).

Best performance: Semi-finals 1930.

Limited but with an endless capacity for work, they could be Leicester City of the finals - and who are the Coca-Cola Cup holders? This will be their third consecutive World Cup and they must be better for their 1994 experience, when they beat Colombia and missed out on the second round only on goal difference. Hard to beat but, like fours years ago, goals will be hard to come by.

Yugoslavia

Fifa world ranking: 22.

Appearances in finals: 8 (1930, 1950-62, 1974, 1982, 1990).

Best performance: Semi-finals 1930.

Now if only they could call upon their former players from Croatia... maybe not. A developing team who appear to be getting better, they slaughtered Hungary 12-1 on aggregate in the play-off games and, like Norway, will be among the lower rank teams no one will want in their group. Milan's Dejan Savicevic is the focal point but a supporting cast of Vladimr Jugovic and Pedrag Mijatovic give them other options.

How the draw will work

Tonight's draw will divide the 32 countries into eight groups of four. The winners and runners-up in each group will progress to the second round. For the purposes of the draw, the teams have been split into four pots:

Seeds: Brazil, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Argentina, Romania, Netherlands.

Pot A (Africa and Concacaf): Cameroon, Jamaica, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, Tunisia, South Africa, United States.

Pot B (Europe): Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, England, Scotland, Norway, Yugoslavia.

Pot C (S America and Asia): Chile, Colombia, Iran, Japan, Paraguay, Saudi Arabia, South Korea.

Brazil have been named as team A1 and France C1. The other six seeded teams will be drawn in order B1, D1, E1, F1, G1, H1. A draw will determine which pot is drawn next.

Whenever Pot A is drawn the eight teams will be placed in order A-H as they emerge. If Pot B is drawn before Pot C the first eight drawn will be placed A-H as they emerge. The remaining European team will be placed with either Argentina or Brazil (another draw).

When Pot C is drawn the three South American teams will not be drawn with the remaining South American seed (Argentina or Brazil).

If Pot C is drawn before Pot B, one European team will be drawn first and placed with either Argentina or Brazil (another draw). Pot C will then be drawn, making sure the three South American teams are not drawn with the remaining South American seed (Argentina or Brazil). In this scenario the remaining eight teams in Pot B can then be placed A-H as they emerge.

Apart from the seeds, each time a team is drawn there will be a mini- draw to determine its place in the allotted group, e.g. B2, B3 or B4.

Group A

1 Brazil 2

3 4

Wed 10 June (St Denis, 4.30) Brazil v A2

Wed 10 June (Montpellier, 8.0) A3 v A4

Tues 16 June (Bordeaux, 4.30) A2 v A4

Tues 16 June (Nantes, 8.0) Brazil v A3

Tues 23 June (Marseilles, 8.0) Brazil v A4

Tues 23 June (St Etienne, 8.0) A2 v A3

Group B

1 2

3 4

Thurs 11 June (Bordeaux, 4.30) B1 v B2

Thurs 11 June (Toulouse, 8.0) B3 v B4

Wed 17 June (St Etienne, 4.30) B2 v B4

Wed 17 June (Montpellier, 8.0) B1 v B3

Tues 23 June (St Denis, 3.0) B1 v B4

Tues 23 June (Nantes, 3.0) B2 v B3

Group C

1 France 2

3 4

Fri 12 June (Lens, 4.30) C3 v C4

Fri 12 June (Marseilles, 8.0) France v C2

Thurs 18 June (Toulouse, 4.30) C2 v C4

Thurs 18 June (St Denis, 8.0) France v C3

Wed 24 June (Lyon, 3.0) France v C4

Wed 24 June (Bordeaux, 3.0) C2 v C3

Group D

1 2

3 4

Fri 12 June (Montpellier, 1.30) D3 v D4

Sat 13 June (Nantes, 1.30) D1 v D2

Fri 19 June (Paris, 4.30) D2 v D4

Fri 19 June (St Etienne, 8.0) D1 v D3

Wed 24 June (Lens, 8.0) D1 v D4

Wed 24 June (Toulouse, 8.0) D2 v D3

Group E

1 2

3 4

Sat 13 June (Lyon, 4.30) E3 v E4

Sat 13 June (St Denis, 8.0) E1 v E2

Sat 20 June (Bordeaux, 1.30) E2 v E4

Sat 20 June (Marseilles, 8.0) E1 v E3

Thurs 25 June (St Etienne, 3.0) E1 v E4

Thurs 25 June (Paris, 3.0) E2 v E3

Group F

1 2

3 4

Sun 14 June (St Etienne, 1.30) F3 v F4

Mon 15 June (Paris, 8.0) F1 v F2

Sun 21 June (Lens, 4.30) F1 v F3

Sun 21 June (Lyon, 8.0) F2 v F4

Thurs 25 June (Montpellier, 8.0) F1 v F4

Thurs 25 June (Nantes, 8.0) F2 v F3

Group G

1 2

3 4

Mon 15 June (Marseilles, 1.30) G3 v G4

Mon 15 June (Lyon, 4.30) G1 v G2

Mon 22 June (Montpellier 4.30) G2 v G4

Mon 22 June (Toulouse, 8.0) G1 v G3

Fri 26 June (St Denis, 8.0) G1 v G4

Fri 26 June (Lens, 8.0) G2 v G3

Group H

1 2

3 4

Sun 14 June (Toulouse, 4.30) H1 v H2

Sun 14 June (Lens, 8.0) H3 v H4

Sat 20 June (Nantes, 4.30) H2 v H4

Sun 21 June (Paris, 1.30) H1 v H3

Fri 26 June (Bordeaux, 3.0) H1 v H4

Fri 26 June (Lyon, 3.0) H2 v H3

SECOND ROUND

Saturday 27 June: Game 2 (Marseilles, 3.30)

Group B winner v Group A runner-up

Saturday 27 June: Game 1 (Paris, 8.0)

Group A winner v Group B runner-up

Sunday 28 June: Game 3 (Lens, 3.30)

Group C winner v Group D runner-up

Sunday 28 June: Game 4 (St Denis, 8.0)

Group D winner v Group C runner-up

Monday 29 June: Game 6 (Montpellier, 3.30)

Group F winner v Group E runner-up

Monday 29 June: Game 5 (Toulouse, 8.0)

Group E winner v Group F runner-up

Tuesday 30 June: Game 7 (Bordeaux, 3.30)

Group G winner v Group H runner-up

Tuesday 30 June: Game 8 (St Etienne, 8.0)

Group H winner v Group G runner-up

QUARTER-FINALS

Friday 3 July: Game B (St Denis, 3.30)

Game 2 winner v Game 3 winner

Friday 3 July: Game A (Nantes, 8.0)

Game 1 winner v Game 4 winner

Saturday 4 July: Game C (Marseilles, 3.30)

Game 5 winner v Game 8 winner

Saturday 4 July: Game D (Lyon, 8.0)

Game 6 winner v Game 7 winner

SEMI-FINALS

Tuesday 7 July, Marseilles (8.0)

Game A winner v Game C winner

Wednesday 8 July, St Denis (8.0)

Game B winner v Game D winner

THIRD PLACE PLAY-OFF: Saturday 11 July, Paris (8.0)

FINAL: Sunday 12 July, St Denis (8.0)

All times (which may be slightly altered to fit TV schedules) BST;

local times one hour later.

THE STADIUMS

1 St Denis: Stade de France (capacity 80,000)

2 Paris: Parc des Princes (49,000)

3 Bordeaux: Stade Lescure (36,500)

4 Lens: Stade Felix-Bollaert (41,275)

5 Lyon: Stade de Gerland (44,000)

6 Marseilles: Stade Velodrome (60,000)

7 Montpellier: Stade de la Mosson (35,500)

8 Nantes: Stade de la Beaujoire (38,500)

9 St Etienne: Stade Geoffroy-Guichard (36,000)

10 Toulouse: Stade Municipal (36,500)

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