With three days until FIFA conducts the World Cup draw at a Brazilian resort …
*I’ve been test-driving online draw simulators like this one because they’re really fun and because they are good preparation for the hellish scenarios awaiting Juergen Klinsmann‘s band. The first dozen outcomes:
1. Spain, Cameroon, Russia
2. Switzerland, Nigeria, Portugal
3. Germany, Ghana, Netherlands
4. Colombia, France, England
5. Brazil, Ivory Coast, Portugal
6. Belgium, Ivory Coast, Russia
7. Belgium, Ghana, Bosnia-Herzegovina
8. Brazil, Nigeria, Netherlands
9. Brazil, Algeria, Italy
10. Spain, Ivory Coast, Netherlands
11. Germany, Chile, Portugal
12. Switzerland, Chile, Italy
Pick your poison!
*What should we take from this enlightening, frightening, depressing piece from Brazil by Associated Press ace Stephen Wade? The train system and highways are inadequate, and flying between venues will be time-consuming, aggravating and expensive. Many visitors will utilize private aircraft. Hotel prices — and even hostel rates — will make Manhattan look like Wichita.
*Draw coverage Friday: ESPN2, Univision, Univision Deportes, ESPN3.com, WatchESPN and FIFA.com. The event begins in earnest around 11:30 a.m. ET.
*U.S. World Cup preparations begin Feb. 1 with a friendly against South Korea at StubHub Center in Carson, Calif., the USSF announced. Kickoff is 5 p.m. ET. TV details have not been finalized yet. During their U.S. trip, the Koreans will also play Mexico on Jan. 29 in San Antonio. Once the draw is settled, the USSF will enter into serious discussions with potential friendly opponents for the weeks leading to the World Cup.
*Adidas will introduce the design of the official World Cup ball today in Brazil.
*Be sure to add the invaluable FIFA app to your smartphone. Well done, Sepp, well done.
*Nike’s stylish new World Cup promo, “Dare to Be Brasilian”: