As we wake up on Saturday morning the Socceroos Samba adventure will become much clearer with the drawing of the World Cup groups.
Currently ranked 59, Australia is the lowest seeded nation in the World Cup draw meaning getting out of the group stage for a second time is set to be a difficult task.
FIFA have already dedicated Pot 1 to the seven highest ranked teams according to the October FIFA rankings, along with hosts Brazil.
Australia will feature in Pot 3 with teams from Asia and the CONCACAF.
Pot 2 has the African nations and the two remaining South American nations, Ecuador and Chile, while Pot 4 will consist of the remaining nine European nations.
This means the Socceroos will meet one of eight seeded teams from Pot 1 along with a European Nation from Pot 4 and possibly an African or South American nation from Pot 2, or a second team from the European pot.
However, Australia cannot draw anyone from Asia under FIFA rules, along with a CONCACAF nation who have been placed in Pot 3 along with the Socceroos.
Although we can expect Ange Postecoglou and co. to say we do not fear any other team in Brazil, there are a few teams we may want to avoid in the Group Stage.
Pot 1: Brazil, Spain, Germany, Argentina, Colombia, Belgium, Uruguay, Switzerland
Fingers crossed we avoid: Brazil. The record five-time champions are the team to avoid on home soil next year. Brazil has held the favourites tag for the tournament since the announcement that the world’s biggest sporting event will return to the hotbed of football. Australia’s last meeting with Brazil ended in a 6-0 drubbing. However, there is one sign of hope for the Socceroos, as they beat the Samba Kings 1-0 in the third place play-off at the 2001 Confederations Cup courtesy of a Shaun Murphy strike. With superstars such as Neymar, Ramires, Thiago Silva and Oscar no team will be keen to draw the hosts. Brazil is not the only team to avoid in Pot 1 with reigning champions Spain, along with Germany and Lionel Messi’s Argentina, also among the tournament’s favourites.
Hopefully we draw: Switzerland. Put simply, Switzerland is the weakest team of all in Pot 1. No European nation has won the World Cup on South American soil which makes their task even more difficult. Switzerland were the surprise nation to receive a Pot 1 birth and hope they can match or beat their best ever finish in a World Cup of their quarter-final appearances in 1934, 1938 and 1954. With players such as Gokhan Inler and Xherdan Shaqiri, Switzerland look capable of a few surprises. Other than Switzerland, all other teams are a frightening prospect for the Socceroos in Pot 1. However, a re-match with Uruguay could be a tasteful fixture for fans of both nations.
Pot 2: Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Algeria, Nigeria, Cameroon, Chile, Ecuador
Fingers crossed we avoid: Chile. Led by Barcelona star Alexis Sanchez, Chile is looming as one of the dark horses in Brazil. Qualifying third behind seeds Argentina and Colombia in the South American Qualifying group, Chile would fancy its chances of surprising a few teams especially the Europeans who have traditionally struggled at World Cups in South America. With a recent friendly win against England at Wembley and a draw with world champions Spain, Chile has shown they can match it with the best. Aside from Chile, a star studded attack of Cote d’Ivoire featuring Didier Drogba, Gervinho, Seydou Doumbia and Salomon Kalou will be a difficult task.
Hopefully we draw: Algeria. An unknown quantity for Australia having never played them before, Algeria makes their fourth appearance at the World Cup Finals. Their 2010 campaign ended in the group stage with a memorable 0-0 draw against England. Algeria also shocked the world at Spain 1982 with a 2-1 victory over eventual runners-up West Germany in their opening match. Algeria’s main hopes lay in the hands of Valencia winger Sofiane Feghouli. Another enticing tie for Australia could be the rematch of the 2010 World Cup with Ghana.
Pot 3: Japan, Iran, Korea Republic, Australia, United States, Mexico, Costa Rica, Honduras
Australia cannot draw anyone from their own Pot. Seen by many as the weakest Pot in the World Cup draw, the only highlight is that the Socceroos will not meet Mexico in the group stage. El Tri has qualified from the group stage in each World Cup since USA 1994 and after their 9-3 aggregate hiding of New Zealand, Mexico is a team to watch in Brazil.
Pot 4: Netherlands, Italy, England, Portugal, Greece, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Russia, France
Fingers crossed we avoid: Netherlands. By far the strongest un-seeded pot. The Netherlands are unlucky not to be in Pot 1, considering they were the runners-up at South Africa 2010. The Netherlands were also the first European team to cement their spot in Brazil and boast the likes of Robin Van Persie, Wesley Snejider, Arjen Robben and Rafael van der Vaart. Any team would hope to avoid the Dutch along with Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal and the Italians, featuring Mario Balotelli.
Hopefully we draw: England. Although they are not the weakest team in the Pot, which Australian would not love to see the Socceroos potentially knock the Poms out of Brazil in the game they created? Although England holds a winning record against Australia, the Socceroos won the last time these two teams met in 2003. Goals from Golden Generation players Harry Kewell, Tony Popovic and Brett Emerton were enough for Australia to win 3-1 in a memorable night at Upton Park. Aside from England, any of Greece, Russia or Bosnia-Herzegovina would give the Socceroos’ chances of passing the group stage a boost at the avoidance of the Netherlands, Italy and Portugal.
The World Cup draw will be broadcast live on SBS on Saturday December 7 from 2:45 AM AEDT.