Revealed: Australia's path to World Cup glory

There's a long list of nations Ange Postecoglou and his players have little chance of beating in Brazil next year, but that won't stop Goal Australia from dreaming
The 32 countries going to Brazil next year have been decided and the draw for the 2014 FIFA World Cup takes place on December 6.

Based on the likely combinations in each pool, here's all the teams Australia will want to avoid and one or two they actually have a chance against.

Pot 1

Good - Switzerland

The Swiss benefited from a stunningly easy UEFA qualifying group, finishing in top spot, streets ahead of powerhouse nations like Iceland, Albania and Cyprus. By virtue of their easy passage, Ottmar Hitzfeld's team have climbed to an improbably high ranking of seventh in the world.

Although they boast Xherdan Shaqiri and Gokhan Inler among their ranks, and are the last team to beat Spain at a major tournament, make no mistake - Switzerland are the only team from Pot 1 Australia wants in its group.

Bad - Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Uruguay, Spain, Germany, Belgium

Do you want to be cremated or buried at sea? If the Socceroos won against any of these teams, it would be the best result in their history. Hosts Brazil will have the crowd on their side and the memories of that 6-0 demolition job in Brasilia fresh in their minds. But surely there's a chink in the armour of the other teams, we hear you say. Sorry, no.

Argentina have Messi, Colombia = Falcao.

Uruguay? Suarez and Cavani.

Spain are the holders, and Germany's reserves could probably beat their first XI.

Wait, hang on - Belgium. They haven't been to a World Cup since 2002. Are they the weak link? No. Lukaku, Benteke, Fellaini, Witsel, Dembele, Mirallas, Chadli, De Bruyne, Defour, Hazard, Vermaelen, Vertonghen.

Oh, ok. Maybe their goalkeepers are no good. Courtois and Mignolet? Sh*t.

Pot 2

Here are the teams Australia probably can't get, because they'll be in the same pot. It's a shame - are few of them are as suspect as we are.

Japan couldn't beat us in Saitama and Lucas Neill was playing, with Holger in charge. Iran, great chance to avenge 1997. Korea Republic, we'd go easy on fellow 'Friends of Guus'. USA couldn't beat Scotland the other day and Mexico only put nine goals past the Kiwis in two games, so they're no good. We beat Costa Rica in Sydney with Lucas Neill in the team, and Honduras have two Wigan players, a Stoke player and a Hull player in their squad. 'Nuff said.

Pot 3

Good - Cameroon, Algeria

Algeria are no mugs, but they haven't had a great time of it lately, finishing bottom of their group in the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations and squeezing past Burkina Faso on away goals in the third round of CAF qualifying. They frustrated the hell out of England at the 2010 World Cup, but don't have anything a Tim Cahill header in the 86th minute can't deal with.

Cameroon have also been struggling in recent years, failing to reach the 2013 Afcon altogether and not managing to pick up a single point at the last World Cup.

Bad - Chile, Ecuador, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria, France

Not much comfort here. Chile and Ecuador finished ahead of Uruguay in CONMEBOL, and South American nations are well placed to prosper when the World Cup is held in their own backyard. Ivory Coast, Ghana and African champions Nigeria are unpredictable but the undisputed heavyweights on their continent, while France have conclusively proved their capacity to tuck just a few goals past a green and gold defence recently.

Pot 4

Good - Greece, England, Russia

How do Greece keep getting to major tournaments? More to the point, given the state of their economy, how can they afford to go? Most casual Australian fans will remember Greece as the extraordinarily surprising winners of Euro 2004, still captained by OAP Giorgos Karagounis, who decided to stay on the bench at Fulham rather than dazzle Australia's sizeable Hellenic population as the marquee at Melbourne Victory. They are well and truly making up the numbers in Brazil next year.

England might not be first on every team's World Cup wishlist, but Roy Hodgson's side represent Australia's best chance of getting one over the old enemy in any code these days. They were far from convincing in qualifying, and the Socceroos would love an opportunity to repeat the heroics of the upset 3-1 win at Upton Park in 2003.

Russia is a funny one. They grabbed top spot in their group ahead of Portugal, but failed to turn up at Euro 2012. And in Italian Fabio Capello, who oversaw England's spectacular failure to do anything in South Africa, they have international coaching's foremost expert in the field of failing to turn up.

Bad - Netherlands, Italy, Portugal, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia

You don't want any of this lot. The Netherlands, beaten finalists in 2010, have Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie, and are guaranteed to improve on their poor Euro 2012 showing. Italy's Mario Balotelli could be the clown prince of the tournament in the absence of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but the AC Milan forward and his Azzurri team-mates reached the European Championship final last year and will be dangerous again. Portugal will bring a bloke called Cristiano Ronaldo, who is quite good at football.

Two decades on from the Balkan war, Bosnia will go to their first World Cup as everybody's second team, but, armed with Edin Dzeko, Miralem Pjanic and Asmir Begovic, they also mean business. As do the Croatia of Mario Mandzukic and Luka Modric.

So there it is, slim pickings in terms of teams Australia will fancy their chances against. To make sure you can cross your fingers, close your eyes and pray for a kind draw on December 6, here's our best and worst-case scenario:

Dream draw

Switzerland, Socceroos, Algeria, Greece.

Group of (Australian) death

Brazil, Socceroos, France, Netherlands

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