By Andrew Downie
COSTA DO SAUIPE (Reuters) - While most supporters will be examining the matches thrown up by Friday's World Cup draw, managers and organisers will be looking at two other crucial variables - temperatures and flight times.
Brazil is the fifth largest country in the world by area and covers a land mass greater than Western Europe.
The World Cup will take place in 12 host cities, from Porto Alegre in the frigid south, to sunny Fortaleza in the north-east and Manaus in the heart of the sultry Amazon.
There are no non-stop flights for fans between some of the venues and, even though teams will fly direct, the longest journeys will still take more than three hours.
The southern hemisphere will be at the height of winter, so temperatures in June and July could vary from almost freezing in the south to an average of 30 Celsius (86 Fahrenheit) in the north-east and the Amazon where it can also be very humid.
Brasilia and Sao Paulo are notoriously dry - the country's biggest city was reportedly drier than the Sahara desert on some days earlier this year - while Manaus, stuck in the heart of the Amazon rainforest, is hot and sticky.
The sunniest is Group G featuring Germany, Portugal, Ghana and the United States. Germany play their three games in Salvador, Fortaleza and Recife, all in the hot north of the country and something coach Joachim Low said was "worrying."
The average temperature in June and July in Salvador is 26C (79F) in Recife it is 27-28C (81-82F), and in Fortaleza, where there is an average of eight hours of sunshine a day in July, the average temperate is 29C (84F).
The group also has some of the longest trips.
The United States play Ghana in Natal on June 16 before heading to Manaus to face Portugal 1,720 miles (2,779km) away. Their third match is in Recife, 1,762 miles (2,836km) distant, against Germany four days later.
The U.S., who hope to be based in Sao Paulo, could end up travelling 8,842 miles (14,230km) to and from Natal, Manaus, and Recife.
Exactly how much distance will be travelled depends on where the teams decide to be based for the opening round. Each team must choose a venue by January and will travel from their base to each match.
In Group E, France's long trek between Porto Alegre, where they face Honduras on June 15, and Salvador, where they face on Switzerland five days later, will be exacerbated by the difference in temperatures.
The French could face almost freezing conditions in Porto Alegre and then heat and humidity in Salvador.
The Swiss also play in Manaus against Honduras and coach Omar Hitzfeld indicated he would have preferred a cooler climate.
"We musn't dwell on it," he said. "We must use the time before the tournament to prepare and adapt to the conditions we are going to face."
Group D also involves several long flights, with England and Italy, who have both expressed a desire to be based in Rio de Janeiro, looking at flying 1,765 miles (2,840km) to Manaus for their tie on June 14.
If Italy do decide to stay in Rio they will spend more time on planes than perhaps any other team bar the U.S. Their six return flights from Rio to Manaus, Recife and Natal will total 8,440 miles (13,583km).
The four teams in Group H will be celebrating and not only for being in one of the less tricky sections. Belgium, Algeria, Russia and South Korea will benefit from shorter flights, with all the games taking place in the south and west of the country.
Argentina will also be delighted with a draw that takes them to Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte and Porto Alegre, three cities that are relatively easy to get to for their traveling fans. The twice winners are in Group F with Bosnia, Iran and Nigeria.
(Editing by Ken Ferris)
- Sports & Recreation
- Porto Alegre