ENGLAND'S DREAM IN RIO
THIS WEEK'S QUALIFIERS
Eleven spots in the World Cup finals will be decided over the next week or so as the qualification process is completed.
In Europe, four two-legged play-offs will be staged with the winners of each booking their ticket to Brazil.
The ties are:
Portugal v Sweden
Ukraine v France
Greece v Romania
Iceland v Croatia
The first legs will take place on Friday with the return fixtures next Tuesday (November 19).
In Africa, the final round of qualifying is currently at the halfway stage. Five two-legged ties are being held this week to determine the continent's five finalists. The second legs will be (first leg scores in brackets):
Nigeria v Ethiopia (2-1) - Sat
Senegal v Ivory Coast (1-3) - Sat
Cameroon v Tunisia (0-0) - Sun
Egypt v Ghana (1-6) - Tues
Algeria v Burkina Faso (2-3) - Tues
In addition, two intercontinental play-offs are being staged, again over two legs. The first sees Jordan face Uruguay, while the second is between Mexico and New Zealand. The first legs are this Wednesday, the second seven days later.
The draw for next summer's World Cup finals takes place on Friday December 6 in Costa do Sauipe at 1600 GMT.
England will not among the seeds so could be drawn in the same group as hosts Brazil or holders Spain.
As hosts, Brazil were automatically seeded and have already been placed in Group A, taking spot A1 in the draw. Spain, Germany, Argentina, Colombia, Belgium and Switzerland have also been seeded on the basis of their FIFA ranking.
The remaining seed will be decided next Wednesday. It will be Uruguay if they win their play-off. If not, the Netherlands will fill that spot.
With teams to be placed into eight groups of four, the draw will see the qualifiers split into four pots with the seeds in pot A.
The other pots - B, C and D - will be determined upon "sports and geographic factors". For example, two sides from Africa will not be allowed to be drawn in the same group so all the African qualifiers will likely be in the same pot. The exact make-up of these pots will be decided at a meeting of FIFA's World Cup Organising Committee on December 3.
WHEN AND WHERE
The finals themselves take place in Brazil from Thursday June 12 to Sunday July 13 next year.
With kick-off times ranging from 1700 BST to 0200 BST, UK-based fans will be in for some late nights. However, the majority start at either 1700 BST or 2100 BST, while the final is a 2000 BST kick-off.
Matches will take place at 12 venues around the country - Belo Horizonte, Brasilia, Cuiaba, Curitiba, Fortaleza, Manaus, Natal, Porto Alegre, Recife, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador and Sao Paulo.
The opening game, which will feature the hosts, will take place in Sao Paulo, with the final in Rio's Maracana stadium - the biggest of the grounds with a capacity of 73,531.
QUALIFERS SO FAR
Twenty-one of the 32 finalists are already known. They include Bosnia-Herzegovina, who will be making their debut in the finals.
The full list of qualifiers so far is:
Europe: Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, England, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Russia, Spain, Switzerland
South America: Argentina, Brazil (hosts), Chile, Colombia, Ecuador
Asia: Australia, Iran, Japan, South Korea
North & Central America/Caribbean: Costa Rica, Honduras, USA
Hosts Brazil, who won the Confederations Cup on home soil this summer, are Sky Bet's 100/30 favourites at present.
Germany are the second favourites at 5/1, while holders Spain are offered at 11/2, the same price as Argentina.
England are eighth favourites at 22/1. Those odds put them behind Belgium (14/1), Italy (16/1) and the Netherlands (18/1) in the betting.
Those nations who have already qualified for the World Cup will begin their final preparations by playing friendlies this week. England host Chile on Friday night before entertaining old enemy Germany next Tuesday.
More friendlies are scheduled for March 5. England will host Denmark, who failed to qualify for the finals, at Wembley on that date. That game will be Roy Hodgson's last chance to assess his players before naming his 30-man squad for Brazil.
The qualifiers will all likely play warm-up games in late May and early June to fine-tune their preparations for Brazil. A USA v England clash in that period has been mooted.
For those wishing to make the trip to Brazil, some tickets are currently on sale and will continue to be on a first-come, first-served basis until November 28.
After the draw has been made, the sale process will reopen on December 8 when tickets will be sold using a ballot system.
Tickets initially went on sale in August and almost 900,000 have already been sold.
Members of the official England supporters' club, englandfans, will be able to apply for tickets for England's games via the FA once the draw for the finals has been conducted.
Full details of ticketing can be found on FIFA's website.
Each country will be able to take a 23-man squad to Brazil. These must be named by June 2.
Before then, the finalists must give FIFA a 30-man list by May 13. The final 23 must be chosen from this list.
Replacements can only be made after the deadline due to injury and such a change must be approved by FIFA. This happened in the England camp prior to the last World Cup when Rio Ferdinand was injured in training and was replaced by Michael Dawson.
OUR LATEST POLL - PLEASE VOTE ...
We want YOUR vote.
Who was the player you disliked most during his time on Tyneside?
Jean Alain Boumsong