The 32 countries of the World Cup finals will find out who they will face in the group stage when Friday’s draw takes place from 1930 GMT in Leipzig.

Most countries will be looking to avoid the fancied unseeded teams such as Holland, Portugal and the Czech Republic.

Holders Brazil remain the team to beat with Franz Beckenbauer, a winner as a player and coach World Cup, tipping them to emulate their achievement of four years ago.

“Brazil are the favourites for me. I watched them at the Confederations Cup and they were brilliant,” Beckenbauer said, referring to the World Cup warm-up tournament won by the South Americans in June.

“If they peform like that at the World Cup they are going to be very hard to stop.”

Ironically, Brazil coach Brazil Carlos Alberto Parreira sees hosts Germany as the biggest threat to a repeat success.

“Germany will be our toughest opponent,” Parreira told Stern magazine.

“You Germans moan too much and should stop!” said Parreira.

“We do not believe you. Germany will be thereabouts next year.”

England are the second seeds behind Brazil, and coach Sven Goran Eriksson is another to tip Brazil to go all the way.

“They have more options up front than they had in Japan,” Eriksson said. “I don’t know how they are going to choose: Ronaldinho, Adriano, Ronaldo, Kaka, Robinho.

“The best South American teams will always be technically the best in the world, even 10 years ahead,” he claimed.

“It’s in the blood or the genes. They have young boys playing football a lot, on the beach or whatever. We don’t do that in England or Sweden or Europe any more. When I was at school we took the ball and went out but today everything must be organised by a coach and that means they play only three or four times a week. We did it every day.”

Eriksson will be encouraged by England’s recent friendly victory over Argentina, although one player missing that day, rising young star Lionel Messi, seems unconcerned by the prospect of the two sides meeting again.

The Barcelona playmaker declared: “I’d like to play England, Brazil, the Netherlands or Portugal.

“I think those teams plus Germany will be the ones still in towards the end.”

The World Cup finals in Germany begin on 9 June 2006 and the final takes place in Berlin on 9 July.

How the draw works
The eight seeded teams in Pot One will be drawn into eight different groups. The hosts Germany have already been allocated Group A while the holders Brazil will be in Group F.

The eight unseeded European teams in Pot Two will be drawn into the eight groups. There will be a maximum of two European sides in each group. Serbia-Montenegro, the lowest-ranked Uefa-affiliated side, will play either Brazil, Argentina or Mexico.

The seven Asian and Concacaf teams in Pot Four will be drawn into groups as will the five African countries, Australia, Paraguay and Ecuador.

Once teams are drawn from Pots Two, Three and Four another draw will then occur to allocate their place in the group and decide the order of the fixtures.

Pool One:
Germany (hosts)
Brazil (champions)

Pool Two:
Ivory Coast

Pool Three:
Czech Republic

Pool Four:
Saudi Arabia
South Korea
Costa Rica
Trinidad & Tobago
United States

Special pot:
Serbia & Montenegro

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