Finals countdown: Who will England draw tonight in their World Cup group?

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The Independent Online

The draw for the group stages of World Cup finals from 9 June to 9 July takes place in Leipzig tonight. The 32 finalists are in four groups, with Serbia & Montenegro in a special pot.

Pool One: Germany (hosts), Brazil (champions), Italy, France, Argentina, Spain, Mexico, England.

Pool Two: Australia, Angola, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Togo, Tunisia, Ecuador, Paraguay.

Pool Three: Croatia, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine.

Pool Four: Iran, Japan, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Costa Rica, Trinidad & Tobago, United States.

Special pot: Serbia & Montenegro.

* There will be a first pool of eight seeded teams. The teams, including England, were seeded based on their performance at the 1998 and 2002 World Cups and also their Fifa world ranking in 2003, 2004 and 2005.

* As soon as a team is drawn from pools two, three or four, another draw will then take place to allocate this team their place in the group, which will decide the order of the group fixtures.

* Wherever possible, teams from the same confederation will be kept apart, the exception being Uefa-affiliated nations where a maximum of two is permitted in each group. Serbia & Montenegro are in a separate pot, and will go into a group containing one of three non-European seeds - Brazil, Argentina or Mexico.

* Where two teams finish level on points, the first criterion that will be used to separate the sides will be the outcome of the group match or matches (if more than two sides are involved) between them. If the match was a draw, goal difference will be the second criterion, then goals scored. Finally, if the teams still cannot be separated, lots will be drawn by the World Cup organising committee.

* Germany have been placed in Group A. They will kick off the tournament in Munich, before moving to Dortmund and completing their group campaign in Berlin, where the final will be staged. This marks a break in recent tradition, as the holdershave opened the past eight tournaments, with Mexico in 1970 the last hosts involved in the opening match. The Fifa spokesman Andreas Herren said: "The tradition with the opening game played by the world champions goes back to 1974. The reason for this change was that in 2001 Fifa decided that the reigning champions would no longer qualify for the finals automatically. At the time of putting the match calendar together, the only team sure to qualify was Germany.

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