Brazil will be the name every nation wants to avoid when the FIFA World Cup draw is made on Friday.
The competition's most decorated country will play host to the world's greatest football nations in 2014, with home advantage sure to boost their chances of claiming a sixth global crown and first since 2002.
Luiz Felipe Scolari's men will be one of eight seeded teams in the draw, which will be held at the Costa do Sauipe Resort in Bahia, but a number of big names could be pitched into a group-stage battle with them.
Included among the unseeded countries are the Netherlands, the 2010 runners-up, and 2006 champions Italy, who were not in the top seven of FIFA's world rankings when the seedings were determined in October.
France and Uruguay's qualification via the play-offs, meanwhile, means every previous winner of the competition will compete this time around.
The seeds - Brazil, Spain, Argentina, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Colombia and Uruguay - will be kept apart in the round-robin phase, but every World Cup produces a so-called 'group of death' that can make the task of a seeded team trickier than that faced by an unseeded counterpart.
Brazil know this only too well, having been drawn alongside Portugal and Ivory Coast in South Africa 2010, with North Korea having been cast in the unenviable role of rank outsiders.
Supposed favourites should be wary of complacency even when the draw appears to have been kind to them.
Never was this more apparent than when Italy, having been crowned champions in 2006, failed miserably in defence of their title four years later.
Handed a group containing Paraguay, Slovakia and New Zealand - three nations ranked outside the world's top 30 at the time - Italy contrived to finish bottom, a stark warning to current champions Spain.
Despite narrowly missing out on reaching the last 16, New Zealand were the only unbeaten side at the 2010 tournament, highlighting the impact that unfancied nations can have.
Bosnia-Herzegovina are the only debutants this time around, while five of the competing nations - Honduras, Ivory Coast, Greece, Iran and Algeria - have never made it past the group stage.
Colombia, making their first appearance at the finals since 1998, can be considered among the favourites after rising to fourth in the world rankings.
Belgium, absent from the last two World Cups but recently ranked as high as fifth following an excellent qualifying campaign, also appear strong contenders.
Brazilian legend Pele once famously predicted the crowning of an African champion by the year 2000 but the continent has yet to produce even a semi-finalist, with Ivory Coast the most likely challengers in 2014.
It is Pele's compatriots who have the most compelling omen on their side, with the host nation (including co-hosts South Korea in 2002) having reached at least the third-place play-off in 12 of the previous 19 World Cups.
Whoever is left facing the daunting prospect of tackling Brazil on home soil will quickly learn the value of the old football adage that to become champions, you really must beat the best.
|Pogba hopes France capitalise on Euro 2016 pressure|
|Herrera not surprised by Van Gaal sacking|
|Karius hails Klopp as one of world´s best|
|Cavani: I could move to Atletico|
|Benzema: Deschamps has bowed to racists|
|Rashica and Djimsiti miss out on Albania final squad|
|Perez: Zidane has made history at Madrid|
|Keane makes Ireland´s Euros squad|
|Schneiderlin in for Diarra in France squad|
|Sevilla reject director´s request to leave|
|Austria 2 Malta 1: Arnautovic and Schopf seal warm-up win|
|Republic of Ireland 1 Belarus 2: O´Neill´s side beaten in final Euros warm-up|
|Argentina not pulling out of Copa America - AFA chief|
|Halilovic left out of final Croatia squad|
|Eder included in Italy squad as Jorginho misses out|
|Luxembourg 1 Nigeria 3: Iheanacho strikes again for Super Eagles|
|Stuttgart midfielder Maxim among five cut from Romania´s Euro 2016 squad|
|Buffon: Italy not among Euro 2016 favourites|
|Lucas replaces injured Rafinha in Brazil Copa squad|
|PSG confirm Aurier will face trial after police altercation|
|Rosicky included in final Czech Republic squad for Euro 2016|
|Ireland 1-2 Belarus: O'Neill's men's Euro 2016 preparations take a blow|
|Reus snub ´unbelievably difficult´ - Howedes|
|AFA holding meeting to discuss Copa withdrawal|
|England v Portugal: Santos confident despite Ronaldo absence|
|Isco, Saul out of Spain Euro 2016 squad|
|Florentino Perez touts revamp of Champions League format|
|Hazard headlines Belgium squad for Euro 2016|
|Zinchenko handed Ukraine call-up|
|Morata: Improving on Spain´s Euro feats is impossible|
|Injured duo return to make Hungary Euro 2016 squad|
|Mourinho: I will not be distracted by Guardiola battle|
|Ledley passed fit for Wales Euro 2016 squad|
|Turan, Sahin and Calhanoglu lead Turkey´s Euro 2016 squad|
|Shevchenko tells AC Milan to sign Yarmolenko|
|Rashford, Sturridge make England´s Euro 2016 squad|
|Schweinsteiger set for return to Germany training|
|Pato: I expected more games at Chelsea|
|Real Madrid may go for Pogba - Perez|
|World Cup Qualifying Review: New Zealand march on|
|Carvajal furious at missing Euro 2016|
|Mkhitaryan in no rush to sign Borussia Dortmund renewal|
|Pele to auction off memorabilia|
|Reus left out of Germany´s Euro 2016 squad|
|Blind determined to fight for his place under Mourinho|
|Aulas open to PSG bid for Lacazette|
|Giroud does not understand France booing|
|Four places up for grabs as Del Bosque closes on final Spain squad|
|Messi tax trial begins in Barcelona|
|Hart: England can be surprise package at Euro 2016|
|Ancelotti will not push out Gotze - Khedira|
|Ibrahimovic hints at Malmo return|
|Depay not blaming Van Gaal for his Manchester United struggles|
|Deschamps unhappy with ´unfair´ Giroud boos|
|Juventus adamant no Olympics for Dybala|
|Navas ruled out of Copa America|
|Iniesta: Madrid will be disappointed not to win La Liga|
|Messi on track in recovery|
|Morata: I want to succeed at Madrid, but would consider Premier League|
|Lewandowski headlines expected Poland squad|
|France boss Deschamps ´surprised´ by Cameroon performance|
|Payet: I´m expected to score every free-kick now|
|Bashful Rami admits to mistakes against Cameroon|
|Peseiro to leave Porto|
|France 3 Cameroon 2: Payet stunner snatches victory|
|Laxalt for Rodriguez in Uruguay´s Copa squad|
|Guingamp unveil Kombouare as new head coach|
|Real Madrid confirm Achilles problem for Navas|
|Wilmots´ woes worsen as Belgium lose Lombaerts, Boyata|
|Marotta: Juventus optimistic on Dani Alves deal|
|Berlusconi: I courted Guardiola at Barcelona|
|Berlusconi: Donnarumma not for sale, even for €80m|
|Ginola back at home following heart surgery|
|Departing City boss Pellegrini could quit management|
|Ayestaran prepared to fight to keep Gomes at Valencia|
|Sagna hopes to remain at City under Guardiola|
|France 3-2 Cameroon: Payet nets dramatic late winner for Euro 2016 hosts|
|Roma complete permanent Rudiger deal|
|Senderos left out of final Switzerland squad for Euro 2016|
|AFC Wimbledon 2 Plymouth Argyle 0: Dons reach the third tier|
|Spain v South Korea: Pedro wants goalscoring momentum|
|Reus demands Dortmund transfers|
|Poland v Netherlands: Lewandowski out to make the most of set pieces|
|Low still waiting on Germany fitness news|
|Juanfran promises Champions League success in heartfelt letter to fans|
|Belgium v Finland: Hazard backs squad to cope without Kompany|
|Skriniar joins Skrtel, Hamsik in Slovakia squad|
|Scholl: Gotze and Lewandowski dealings strange|
|Terry: Chelsea must learn from mistakes and fight for trophies again|
|Belgium v Finland: Hazard backs squad to cope without Kompany|
|Injury comeback on track, says Germany´s Khedira|
|Victor Sanchez sacked by Depor|
|Rashford signs Manchester United renewal|
|Sturridge resumes England training|
|Pellegrini rues decision to go public with Guardiola appointment|
|Luxembourg v Nigeria: Yusuf set for latest audition|
|Icardi, Perisic not for sale at any price - Inter|
|Carvajal to miss Euro 2016, replaced by Bellerin|
|Terry certain of Mourinho success at Manchester United|
|Pirlo not bitter towards Conte over Euro 2016 snub|
|Dortmund rule out Sokratis exit amid Atletico Madrid links|
|Barcelona revert to tradition with new kit|
|Robben and Ribery in line for Bayern renewals|
|King backs Wales to ´do a Leicester´ at Euro 2016|
|Deschamps: Zidane´s Champions League win is amazing|
|Pulido rescued by Mexican authorities|
|Alaves secure La Liga promotion|
|Gabriel´s childhood dream becomes a reality|
|Mexico v Chile: Vidal set for return|
|Boateng left ´sad´ after politician´s controversial comments|
|Mooy undecided on future|
|Gotze not concentrated on club future|
|Panama 0 Brazil 2: Jonas breaks goalscoring drought, Gabriel nets on debut|
|Postecoglou pleased with additions ahead of Greece clashes|
|Panama 0-2 Brazil: Jonas breaks goalscoring drought, Gabriel nets on debut|
|Ter Stegen laments ´unlucky´ error in Germany defeat|
|Santos hoping for Portugal improvement ahead of Euro 2016|
|Ronaldo dismisses critics after Champions League win|
|Uruguayan side complete Leicester-style championship win|
|New York City 2 Orlando City 2: Molino salvages late point|
|Colombia 3 Haiti 1: Cuadrado helps Pekerman´s side to win|
|Strachan hits out at wayward passing|
|Conte focusing on positives after Scotland victory|
|Colombia 3-1 Haiti: Cuadrado helps Pekerman's side to win|