The 2018 World Cup draw is approaching, with proceedings set to begin in the early hours of Saturday morning. In preparation for the event, here’s a quick rundown on how the draw works and what some of the best and worst case scenarios for the Socceroos will be.
The 32 teams have been divided into four pots of eight teams each. The pots are also sorted by world ranking, and the draw will take place with the caveat that no continent except for Europe can have two teams in the same group.
Australia is in Pot 4, meaning that they cannot play against opponents from that group.
The 2014 World Cup saw the Socceroos get the short end of the stick when they were pitted against Spain, the Netherlands and Chile.
Let’s go through the pots one by one and pick out teams that fans want to see, as well as the ones we’re praying to avoid.
This one is full of the strongest teams in the world… except for Russia. Due to their status as hosts, they are automatically placed into the first pot, but actually have the lowest ranking out of all the teams in the tournament. Everyone, not just the Socceroos, will want to play them.
In an ideal world, Australia will want to avoid just about every other team from the first group. But if I had to pick the most dangerous threats, those would be defending champions Germany, along with Neymar and his Brazilian squad. Both teams boast incredible amounts of talent and are in excellent form.
Australia has a very poor track record against Brazil, with eight meetings resulting in one win, six losses and one draw.
This is another tricky group with a lot of quality teams. The easiest target might be Switzerland, who struggled in qualification against Northern Ireland. They should offer the best chance for Australia to snatch a win.
As for teams to avoid, this one is pretty obvious: the 2010 champions Spain. They are only in Pot 2 due to Russia’s automatic placement in Pot 1. The Spaniards have so many quality players on their squad that it’s surprising to see them only ranked eighth in the world.
Croatia, led by Real Madrid’s Luka Modric, is another quality team that will leave Socceroos fans feeling uneasy if they are drawn in the same group.
For starters, Iran cannot be placed into Australia’s group as they are from the same confederation.
Tunisia stands out here as a weaker team. Rennes midfielder Wahbi Khazri is a relatively well-known name, but the side’s collection of talent pales in comparison to some of the other nations in the group.
Egypt, Senegal and Denmark are squads that look very dangerous. All three have well-known stars like Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Christian Eriksen that play in some of the world’s top leagues, but Denmark appears to be the strongest among all the teams.
This is Australia’s group, so they won’t face off against other teams from here.
So, the bad news first. What would be some of the worst draws for the Socceroos? Something like Germany, Spain and Egypt would be a death sentence. Likewise, a group consisting of Brazil, Spain and Denmark would offer little to no hope of advancing.
Really, Australia will just be hoping to miss out on Spain.
On the other hand, I’d like to wake up on Saturday and see something like Russia, Switzerland (or Peru) and Tunisia.
A recent draw rehearsal saw Australia get placed into a group with Russia, Switzerland and Egypt, which would have been close to a dream scenario. Now it remains to be seen if that luck continues, or if it was all used up during the mock draw.