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2014 FIFA World Cup: Five talking points from the draw

Hosts Brazil will play Croatia in the opening match of the 2014 World Cup June 12 in Sao Paulo as the draw was completed here.

Here are five interesting topics of discussion from Friday's FIFA World Cup draw

  • GROUP OF DEATH

Roy Hodgson and Townsend
England manager Roy Hodgson with Andros Townsend.

Groups B, D and G all have claims to be the tournament's most difficult. Group G has no easy matches but B and D perhaps have the strongest top three teams. Group B comprises world champions Spain as well as the Netherlands and Chile while Group D boasts three former World Cup winners in Uruguay, England and Italy. The latter two have equal claims to be dubbed the tournament's Group of Death.

  • EASIEST GROUP

While Brazil and Colombia will be content with their draws, they will not be as happy as Argentina and Belgium. Argentina will be pitted against Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iran and Nigeria in Group F while the impressive Belgian outfit faces Algeria, Russia and South Korea. Perhaps more significantly, Argentina and Belgium have avoided the sapping heat of Brazil's north and northeast with all of their matches in the milder south and southeastern regions.

  • FREQUENT FLYER POINTS

If any team deserves to whinge about what has been served to them, it is Croatia. If playing the tournament opener against Brazil in Sao Paulo wasn't bad enough, Niko Kovac's men will then travel more than 3,000 km north to the stifling Amazonian outpost of Manaus for a clash against Cameroon. Their last group match against Mexico will require another 4,000 km journey east to the tropical city of Recife. At least there they might be able to enjoy a sea breeze.

  • TURNING UP THE HEAT

Italy will play their first match against England in the cauldron of Manaus's Arena Amazonia. Cesare Prandelli's team then have consecutive 1 p.m. kickoffs against Costa Rica and Uruguay in the northeastern cities of Recife and Natal where temperatures are likely to be close to 30 degrees Celsius with high humidity.

  • FOOT IN MOUTH

Just days after England coach Roy Hodgson made public his wish to avoid Manaus it was almost inevitable that his team would be drawn there. The city's mayor Arthur Virgilio has already warned England that Hodgson's comments will ensure a pro-Italy crowd at the June 14 fixture.

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