Brazil the draw no team wants says Beckenbauer
December 8, 2005
LEIPZIG, Germany (AFP) - Brazil are the team everyone else will want to avoid in Friday's 2006 World Cup draw here, according to West Germany's 1974 World Cup winner Franz Beckenbauer.
England, Italy, Argentina, France, Mexico, Spain and hosts Germany are seeded along with Brazil so cannot be grouped with the holders but the other 24 nations will need a dose of luck to avoid the five-time World Cup winners.
High-calibre teams such as the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and Portugal will not want to see Brazil next to their name when the 32 qualifiers are divided into eight groups of four.
"Brazil are the favourites for me," said Beckenbauer, head of the World Cup organising committee (OK).
"I watched them at the Confederations Cup and they were brilliant.
"If they perform like that at the World Cup they are going to be very hard to stop."
Brazil crushed South American rivals Argentina 4-1 in the Confederations Cup final back in June and their World Cup pedigree is second to none, having won a record five World Cups and reached the last three World Cup finals.
According to the OK, Friday's draw for the finals, running from June 9 until July 9, is set to pull in a record global TV audience of 320 million and be broadcast to 145 countries.
A collection of football stars from every football continent will help with the draw, with Brazil's three-time World Cup winner Pele (1958, 1962, 1970) leading the way.
West Germany's 1990 World Cup winning captain Lothar Matthaus, Netherlands star Johan Cruyff, Cameroon's Roger Milla, South African Lukas Radebe and Japan's Masashi Nakayama are just some of the other big names on show in Leipzig.
Argentina's controversial 1986 World Cup hero Diego Maradona declined the invitation to take part.
The organising committeew confirmed Wednesday that the coaches of the 32 nations would all witness the draw live with the sole exception of Argentina's Jose Pekerman.
England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson, Australia coach Guus Hiddink, Japan coach Zico and Brazil chief Carlos Alberto Parreira will all be watching on with interest.
Parreira is well aware that his side are being touted as clear favourites to retain the trophy but believes hosts Germany should be more confident.
"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."
Germany have tasted friendly defeats at Slovakia and Turkey in the build-up to the finals but surprised everyone by reaching the 2002 final - losing 2-0 to Brazil.
While the traditional football powerhouses such as Brazil, Germany, Argentina and England will target World Cup glory debutants Togo and Angola will relish playing against football's elite.
The draw will offer something for every nation and with 48 hours to go fans will be working out the possible scenarios in advance.
The draw, hosted by German supermodel Heidi Klum, will take place on a stage designed to resemble a football stadium, beginning at 9:20 pm (2020 GMT) and ending at 9.50 pm (2050 GMT).
"It will be a gigantic show," said Wolfgang Niersbach, the vice-president of the Organising Committee.
Among the 4,000 invited guests will be German Chancellor Angela Merkel.