World Cup draw for dummies: Best and worst case scenarios for the Socceroos

Friday, 01 December 2017, 12:49:41 PM. The World Cup draw is on tonight, and if you're wondering why people get so excited about the ceremonial yanking of ping pong balls out of fish bowls, read on.

Journalists walk in the concert hall of the State Kremlin Palace. Photo: This is where the magic happens. (AP: Pavel Golovkin)

The World Cup draw is on tonight, and if you're wondering why people get so excited about the ceremonial yanking of ping pong balls out of fish bowls, read on.

Basically, a rough draw can shatter a nation's World Cup dreams in an instant, while a friendly draw can have millions of fans imagining their team making a glorious run to the semi-finals.

Here's a snapshot of what's going on tonight.

Where is the draw? And more importantly, when?

A signpost directing people to the entrance of the Final Draw is placed on the Red Square. Photo: The draw will have plenty of gravitas, being held at the Kremlin Palace. (AP: Pavel Golovkin)

It is being held in Moscow, the capital city of Russia which is, ICYMI where the World Cup is being held next year.

The best bit is that it's going on in the Kremlin Palace, so it will be suitably majestic.

The whole shebang is scheduled to begin at 2:00am AEDT, but expect the actual draw to take place after a fair bit of gasbagging, back-slapping, tacky model-ogling and good number of video montages.

Which famous faces can you see?

Draw assistant and Uruguayan soccer player Diego Forlan and Ekaterinburg's superfan Maria Panina stand on the stage. Photo: The draw assistants are a who's who of World Cups past. (AP: Pavel Golovkin)

OK, you might not have asked that particular question but we're going to tell you anyway.

The hosts will be the glamorous former England footballer Gary Lineker and the charming Russian sports journalist Maria Komandnaya.

You will also see such footballing luminaries as Diego Maradona, Fabio Cannavaro, Gordon Banks, Diego Forlan and Russian legend Nikita Simonyan. What a tasty lineup!

How does it work?

External Link: Poll World Cup draw

It's simpler than you might think. There are 32 teams who have qualified. They will be split into four pots based on their current FIFA world rankings.

Pot 1 will contain Russia, the hosts, and the seven highest-ranked teams, Pot 2 the next eight highest-ranked teams and so forth.

Australia has the sixth-lowest ranking of all 32 teams (43), and will thus be in Pot 4.

Well, what do the pots look like?

Here's what the pots look like. See below for a text list with rankings included.

Infographic: The top-ranked teams and Russia appear in Pot 1, with the rest of the pots also decided by current FIFA rankings. (Supplied: FIFA)

Sounds simple

So then one team is drawn from each pot and the groups are made thusly?

Yes! Well, not quite.

FIFA wants to keep teams from the same confederation apart, so Argentina and Brazil could not be drawn together, for example, nor could Australia and Iran.

Because there are so many European teams, they are the exception to that rule, but only up to a maximum of two European teams in one group.

Here's a video explainer if you need it.

What are the best and worst case scenarios for the Socceroos?

Socceroos' Tomi Juric celebrates goal against Thailand Photo: Australia does not have a coach at present, but a favourable draw would be a cause for optimism for the 'Roos. (AAP: Julian Smith)

This is a simplified system compared to the last few World Cups and that, in theory, means we won't see a completely terrifying "group of death", because of the way the pots are split based on rankings rather than regions.

But seeing as though Australia is in Pot 4, there are still some pretty frightening scenarios.

Here are the pots again with rankings included.

Pot 1Pot 2Pot 3Pot 4Russia (Hosts)Spain (8)Denmark (19)Serbia (38)Germany (1)Peru (10)Iceland (21)Nigeria (41)Brazil (2)Switzerland (11)Costa Rica (22)Australia (43)Portugal (3)England (12)Sweden (25)Japan (44)Argentina (4)Colombia (13)Tunisia (28)Morocco (48)Belgium (5)Mexico (16)Egypt (30)Panama (49)Poland (6)Uruguay (17)Senegal (32)South Korea (62)France (7)Croatia (18)Iran (34)Saudi Arabia (63)

We reckon these are the best and worst case scenarios. What are your thoughts?
Neymar does a lightning bolt celebration after scoring against Germany Photo: Australia doesn't want to see much of this guy in Russia. (AP Photo: Luca Bruno)

Best possible group

Russia: The hosts are only in Pot 1 because, well, they are the hosts. Yes, home advantage is a real thing, but it can also add an extra layer of pressure, as we saw with South Africa in 2010. And Russia play dour, mediocre football.

Peru: Yes, we'd all probably like to play England, but in terms of quality, Peru are the easiest opponent in Pot 2. They have a brilliant coach in Ricardo Gareca, but as we saw in their play-off tie against New Zealand, they are fairly limited in terms of flair.

Tunisia: These guys look the weakest of the African sides at this World Cup, and the Socceroos would fancy their chances against a team that's just not very good.

Worst possible group

Brazil: Because Brazil. I mean, Germany would be disastrous as well. It's like choosing whether you want to be sliced up by Freddy or Jason. So take your pick.

Spain: The 2010 world champs crashed and burned four years ago but they are still a side chock full of champion players that has also been refreshed by some stylish young talent. A semi-final or final hopeful that you don't want to be facing in the group stage.

Denmark: The Danes are always technically proficient as well as being a big and strong team. And this particular outfit has the world-class talents of Christian Eriksen in midfield to push it into the realm of quarter-final hopeful.

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