How the draw works: 32 teams, 4 pots, 8 groups.

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Here’s who has qualified already (29 teams): Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, South Korea, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Philippines, Republic of Ireland, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United States, Vietnam, Zambia.

And here are the playoff hopefuls (10 teams, competing for three places): Cameroon, Chile, Taiwan (which FIFA refers to as Chinese Taipei), Haiti, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Portugal, Senegal, Thailand.

Those 10 teams will be whittled to three in a series of playoff games in February.

The full set of draw procedures runs to five pages. If you want something simpler, FIFA has put together this quick video.

The main things to remember as you follow along?

  • The co-hosts, Australia and New Zealand, are locked in to first-round groups that will see them remain in their home countries in the group stage.

  • The draw procedures are designed to ensure teams from the same federation are kept apart. So the United States, for example, can’t be drawn with Canada or Costa Rica on Saturday, but also it would theoretically need to avoid the playoff winners from Groups B and C, since those groups could produce a qualifier from Concacaf. But since those playoff groups include teams from various federations, and will be unknown on Saturday, it may not be possible to keep teams from the same region apart. FIFA said, though, that no group will include more than two teams from the same confederation.

  • The pots were set based on the October FIFA world rankings, which had the United States at No. 1. The biggest change there this month? Spain rose two places, and thus landed in Pot 1 for the draw, while the Netherlands dropped two, falling into Pot 2.

  • All the groups will keep teams in one country or the other in the group stage, which was meant to minimize travel for players, and fans, at least initially.


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