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By Robbie Blakeley, Senior Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Brazil and Croatia will open the 2014 FIFA World Cup on June 12th at the Itaquerão Stadium in São Paulo. A star studded event in Bahia saw the 32 qualified teams for next year’s mega event drawn into groups in the first step towards of the final countdown for one of sport’s most important tournaments.

FIFA 2014 World Cup Draw, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News
A star studded event in Bahia saw the 32 qualified teams of the FIFA tournament drawn into groups, photo by Roberto Stuckert Filho/Presidência da República.

The group stage for the 2014 FIFA World Cup draw was made this afternoon in the Costa do Sauípe in Bahia. And the draw was relatively kind to hosts Brazil, drawn alongside Croatia, Mexico and Cameroon.

Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari and his side have avoided European heavyweights such as Italy and France in the opening stages and will now be expected to make the knock-out rounds with relative ease. Although Mexico defeated Brazil last year in the final of the 2012 Olympic Games.

Meanwhile, England and the U.S. were handed somewhat tougher groups. England, who won the World Cup in 1966, have been drawn in what some have dubbed the “Group of Death”.

To reach the second round they will have to prevail in a group that contains fellow Europeans Italy, 2011 Copa America champions Uruguay and Costa Rica. The task for the USA is even harder.

USA have been drawn in Group G along with Germany, Portugal and Ghana. Many have put the two European sides as favorites to progress, whilst Ghana eliminated U.S. in the last World Cup in South Africa.

Here is the draw in full: GROUP A: Brazil, Croatia, Mexico, Cameroon

GROUP B: Spain, Holland, Chile, Australia

GROUP C: Colombia, Greece, Ivory Coast, Japan

GROUP D: Uruguay, Costa Rica, England, Italy

GROUP E: Ecuador, France, Switzerland, Honduras

GROUP F: Argentina, Bosnia, Iran, Nigeria

GROUP G: Germany, Portugal, Ghana, USA

GROUP H: Belgium, Algeria, Russia, South Korea

* The Rio Times Daily Updates feature is offered to help keep you up-to-date with important news as it happens.

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