In a World Cup shaping as one of the most competitive in decades, how teams cope with the demanding travel schedules is emerging as one of the critical success factors.
Brazil is a vast nation - more like a continent than a country - which will see teams clocking up huge air miles. The tournament is spread across 12 cities.
It's led one American commentator to say this event is "football meets The Amazing Race".
In the group stages alone, the US will travel more than 5500km (the equivalent of going from Auckland to Dunedin six times), while playing three games in the space of 11 days.
They kick off against Ghana in Natal on the north-east coast, then travel more than 2700km inland to the middle of the Amazon for their second match against Portugal in Manaus. The next day they will be back on the plane, flying an even longer journey to Recife for their final group match against Germany three days later.
At the last World Cup, the US clocked up less than 350km in bus rides for their group games in Rustenburg, Johannesburg and Pretoria.
They have the most demanding schedule this time, with Croatia, Cameroon, Uruguay and Portugal also with tough schedules. Host nation Brazil haven't received any favours, having to travel more than 4000km for their group games in Sao Paulo, Fortaleza and Brasilia.
The situation is partly due to Brazil's size - it is the fifth largest country in the world, with a land area only slightly smaller than the US. But it's also because of Fifa's decision to spread matches in one group across the country, rather than keeping them in the same region as they have historically done.
The 2010 All Whites were based in Johannesburg for all three of their group games.
Fifa originally planned to organise group games on a regional basis, dividing the country into four.
That idea was later sidelined, partly because, according to Fifa secretary general Jerome Valcke, of the desire "to have the best teams, the seeded teams in all the cities".
Fifa also had concerns about weather extremes, fearing it would advantage some countries if they were based entirely in the cooler southern area for their group matches. But that decision has thrown up more problems, and hasn't done anything to lessen the inequity for some nations.
Take Honduras. They play their first two matches in Porto Alegre and Curtitiba (average day time temperatures of 18 degrees) then travel almost 3000km for their final pool E match against Switzerland in Manaus, in expected temperatures of 32 degrees and humidity of 85-90 per cent.
Following the World Cup is also going to be a challenge for fans, with many bus rides measured in days rather than hours for those supporters unable to get seats on the limited number of domestic flights available.
After England's first match in Manaus against Italy next Sunday (NZT), those fans travelling by land face a journey of almost 4000km to Sao Paulo for England's next game.
That's the equivalent of driving from London to Turkey.
It's also an exercise in logistics for journalists. While covering the World Cup for the Herald on Sunday and New Zealand Herald, I'll fly the length of Brazil twice. After entering Brazil via Sao Paulo, I venture north to Fortaleza, then travel back down the coast, stopping in Natal, Recife, Salvador, Belo Horizonte and Rio, before flying home out of Sao Paulo. It will all be worth it.
In for the long haul
World Cup group stage demands: Most kilometres travelled
United States: 5571km
Least kilometres travelled