While the world waits on the WC draw, we couldn’t …

The World Cup has a way of turning even the most mature and serious of adults into wide-eyed, giddy school children.

On the eve of Friday’s World Cup draw (Follow it LIVE on FoxSoccer.com), my writing partner and I couldn’t resist the temptation of creating a mock draw in anticipation of the big event that will set the wheels in true motion towards South Africa next summer.

We followed FIFA’s draw procedure to the letter and here’s what we came up with … hopes and dreams will rise or fall tomorrow, but until your country is drawn out of that little transparent fishbowl, we can all use a little imagination.

Group A: South Africa, Portugal, South Korea, Chile

Robert

John

Favorite: Portugal boasts the best player in the world in Ronaldo, but Chile’s fantastic qualifying run proves what a strong squad they are under Bielsa.
Could surprise: No host nation has ever failed to qualify for the second round, so the big ‘surprise’ could be the Bafana Bafana becoming the first.
Verdict: The qualifying grind brought out the best in Chile, but can they keep it up six months from now? Either way, Chile and Portugal advance.

Favorite: Portugal. Any opponent in this group would need to play their absolute best in addition to receiving multiple breaks to beat them.
Could surprise: South Africa. Only because their advancing from this group would have to be considered a mild surprise.
Verdict: South Africa gets a much tougher of a group than they bargained for and hopefully puts an end to all the “fixed draws” nonsense.

Group B: Germany, Honduras, Nigeria, Serbia

Robert

John

Favorite: Deutschland always finds a way through and it won’t be any different in this group.
Could surprise: After a World Cup absence of over 25 years, the eager Hondurans might earn a shock result against the Serbs.
Verdict: A battle between Serbia and Nigeria for second place might just boil down to goal differential.

Favorite: The Germans. They have underperformed in recent World Cups, but are really poised to make a run here.
Could surprise: Nigeria. Like all other African teams, they’ll be jazzed to play on their home continent, and it’s not easy to defend their constant attacking style.
Verdict: Watching Germany’s ultra-organized offense try to break down Serbia’s steel curtain of a defense would be entertaining.

Group C: England, Ivory Coast, Mexico, Greece

Robert

John

Favorite: Most would give the automatic nod to England, but the Ivory Coast appears to be the class of Africa, and they’re playing on ‘home’ soil.
Could surprise: Mexico advancing to the second round isn’t usually a surprise, but it would be if they ended up doing it in this group.
Verdict: This could very well be the Group of Death, so expect tons of fireworks.

Favorite: The winner of England-Ivory Coast. If there isn’t one, then that probably spells trouble for the other two teams in the group.
Could surprise: Greece. Remember 2004? Granted, it was their equivalent of hitting a half-court buzzer-beater, but they still are a stingy and pesky team no one really wants to play.
Verdict: England most likely wins the group, but it wouldn’t be a complete shock to see them get knocked out before the second round. This would be a highly entertaining group.

Group D: Brazil, Australia, Switzerland, Ghana

Robert

John

Favorite: Brazil is the odds-on favorite to win the World Cup and claim its sixth world title, so the rest are playing for second place.
Could surprise: The Aussies were very good in 2006, but has their ‘golden generation’ of Kewell and Viduka been properly replaced?
Verdict: The Black Stars feature the best two-way midfielder in the world in Michael Essien, so expect to see them in the last 16.

Favorite: Do you really need an answer to that?
Could surprise: Any of these teams … if they even took one point off of Brazil.
Verdict: Second place is there for the taking, but Ghana would have to be the slight favorites to take it.

Group E: Holland, Uruguay, USA, Slovenia

Robert

John

Favorite: The Dutch boast the biggest collection of star players, but their mental edge often disappears when the lights shine brightest.
Could surprise: Regardless the USA’s lofty position in the FIFA rankings, it’ll still be a surprise to the rest of the world if the Americans reach the knockout round.
Verdict: The U.S. advanced in ’94 and ’02, and flamed out in ’98 and ’06, so they’re due.

Favorite: Holland. A flawless qualifying campaign and serious potential to finally go all the way and win it all.
Could surprise: Slovenia, although no one should take them lightly after their stunning upset of Russia in the playoff qualifiers.
Verdict: The U.S. avoids getting into a group of death. Burnsy and I breathe easier.

Group F: Spain, Algeria, Slovakia, New Zealand

Robert

John
Favorite: The European champions know that this is their best-ever shot at finally bringing home a World Cup trophy, so they’ll be wont to take it.
Could surprise: Slovakia is steady if not spectacular, but the other two teams in the group are weak, so they should advance.
Verdict: As much as everyone will enjoy the plucky Kiwis, we’ll all wonder why FIFA didn’t just give their spot to Ireland.
Favorite: Spain. They literally couldn’t have picked their own draw any easier.

Could surprise: Algeria. They’re making their first appearance at the Cup since 1986 and, like all other African teams, they aren’t just here for the ride.
Verdict: Spain collects nine points without breaking a sweat.

Group G: Italy, Paraguay, France, North Korea

Robert

John

Favorite: This one’s too close to call as the Azzurri and Les Bleus are historically the best of the bunch, but Paraguay is certainly no slouch this cycle.
Could surprise: Again, most will expect to see the European powers advance here, but France’s current disarray might just open the door for the South Americans to impress.
Verdict: Since this World Cup isn’t being played in Europe and all sorts of surprises are in store, one of the two UEFA stallions will be put out to pasture.

Favorite: It’s a tossup between the Italians and French, who have all the “us against the world” motivation they need.
Could surprise: Paraguay. Roque Santa Cruz can carry Paraguay’s scoring load if he’s in form. North Korea gets an unfortunate break since their ultra-defensive approach might have actually seen them through a different group.
Verdict: Italy’s age might finally catch up with them, and their history of slow starts could haunt them in a group like this.

Group H: Argentina, Denmark, Japan, Cameroon

Robert

John

Favorite: It depends on how much more lunacy comes out of Diego Maradona’s mouth, but Cameroon could easily win this group if Argentina doesn’t sort out its issues.
Could surprise: While the Albicelestes boast some of the most talented individual players on the planet, their lack of cohesion and definitive leadership could see them go out much like France did back in 2002.
Verdict: Crazy, crazy things are bound to happen during the first World Cup on African soil, so nothing would surprise me in this group. Even the Danes might impress …

Favorite: Argentina. For as psychotic and unbalanced as their coach is, he couldn’t have asked for a better draw here.
Could surprise: Cameroon. A repeat run of 1990 in the cards?
Verdict: Much like their qualifying campaign, Argentina flirts with disaster before taking the group. Then they get knocked out in the first round of their playoff.

Robert Burns is the senior editor of FoxSoccer.com and John Juhasz is a fantasy writer for FoxSports.com.