FIFA set to announce Brazilian cities for 2014 World Cup
ZURICH, Switzerland (Reuters) -- FIFA is set to end years of intrigue on Thursday when it announces which Brazilian cities will stage which matches at the 2014 World Cup including the opening game and the final.
Rio de Janeiro's Maracana stadium is seen as certain to get the final, the self-styled "Marvellous City" having already been named as host for the International Broadcast Centre.
However, there is still great anticipation over which city will stage the prestigious opening game, the lobbying having started virtually the minute Brazil was confirmed as host nation four years ago.
Sao Paulo is seen as the favourite, despite delays in the construction of the new Itaquerao stadium, while Fortaleza and Brasilia are also vying for the honour.
The semi-finals and quarter-finals are also up for grabs as well as all the group games.
Brazilian media said that over the last few months, the organising committee has produced 57 possible versions of the fixture list before reaching the one which will be presented to the world on Thursday.
The announcement will also answer doubts over the amount of travelling teams and their supporters will have to do between the 12 venue cities which extend from Manaus in the heart of the Amazon basin to Porto Alegre in the far south.
In 1998, FIFA has ditched the concept that teams should be based on one venue for the group stage and has sent them cavorting around the various hosts nations since then.
However, Brazil's sheer size combined with severely limited transport options is likely to force FIFA to use the old system.
With the tournament being played in winter, teams forced to play at different ends of the country could also face huge changes in playing conditions, with tropical weather in the north and chilly temperatures in the south.
FIFA are expected to announce that matches in the tropical north and northeast will be played in the evening with afternoon kickoffs in the south.