It all starts with the draw, usually made six months or more before the tournament begins. Upon completion, it's as much as we can do to ponder on the deliciously random permutations that have been set before us. Will 'Team A' beat 'Team B'? Will 'Team C' top the group? Will 'Team D' cause an upset or two?
Before a ball has been kicked, we take it upon ourselves to figure out whether any given group is a good one, a great one, or even a 'Group of Death.' It is a time when we can dream about the things we will see and the battles that will ensue - and all, initially at least, within the confines of each of those fabulous First Round groups.
So what is it that gives a group so much potential for excitement? Regardless of how it might eventually pan out, what makes a First Round group look good on paper? Having given the matter some thought, I arrived at the three main criteria that would lead me to the greatest groups in World Cup history - in principle, at least.