World Cup 2018 Draw – Results and Predictions

image source: independent.co.uk

 

The World Cup 2018 draw has concluded. We’re going to take a look at how things wound up, as well as preview every group and team still in qualification. This is a long article, so strap in!

 

AFC

The AFC was not part of the World Cup 2018 draw in any way, shape, or form. They did their own thing and have already progressed to the 2nd round of qualification. Those matches began back in June. To get you up to speed, here are a couple screenshots of current standings, projections and evolution of odds.

All projections are based on our original WGF Rankings. Additionally, you can download the Excel spreadsheets that create the standings and projections. DOWNLOAD HERE <——. You can enter results yourself, and automatically standings and projections will update. You can also run simulations to calculate each team’s odds. That’s pretty cool.

Anyway, here’s how things look in AFC at the moment.

World Cup 2018 Draw - AFC1

World Cup 2018 Draw - AFC2

World Cup 2018 Draw - AFC3

 

We’ll shuffle through some of the groups pretty quickly here.

Group A: Appears to be the UAE’s to lose. Projected to finish with around 20 points, which would be a very respectable outing. Saudi Arabia is currently even with them, but we lean towards the UAE. Saudi Arabia has a reasonable chance to advance as one of the best 2nd place teams at 25%. We don’t see Palestine, Timor-Leste, or Malaysia as threats to the top.

Group B: Repeat above, just replace UAE with Australia. Australia is projected at 22.2 points, which is the highest of any team in Asian qualifying. Jordan is their biggest threat, but we see Australia as the clear favorite here. We’ll see if Jordan can make some noise and end up at the top of the 2nd place table.

Group C: Hong Kong has come out firing out of the gates. They’re on 6 points through two matches, having beaten Maldives and Bhutan. We still think this is a 2-horse race between China and Qatar, but Hong Kong has to at least be in the conversation now. We think that both China and Qatar advance, regardless who finishes atop the group. We give each an over 75% chance to advance.

Group D: Iran has already dropped points, and Guam is on 6 points, so Group D has certainly opened up more than expected. Iran is still considered the favorite to win the group, but their margin for error is much slimmer. Turkmenistan and India are basically out of it already, so it remains to be seen how Guam handles the added expectations. Oman is a middle of the pack team that probably will be right on the cut line for advancing.

Group E: Likewise, Japan has dropped points, but they have a much stronger threat in their group in Syria. We only project a narrow 3 point difference between the two. That still equates to about an 82% chance for Japan to top the group, but it’s not set in stone. Syria is a good team, and we think they have about a 2/3 chance to  move on. Singapore is also no pushover in the group. Quality group here.

Group F: Iraq has yet to kick off, and they’re already 6 points in the whole. Due to Indonesia’s suspension, only two matches have been played in this group. They’ve both been won by Thailand. That’s huge, as we now have Thailand with a 76% chance to move on. We still fancy Iraq to top the group, but it’s tough starting with a big deficit like that. Vietnam and Chinese Taipei look like they’re in a world of hurt after just one match each.

Group G: This looks like all South Korea’s to lose. After Australia, we don’t have another team with higher odds to advance than the Koreans. Kuwait and Lebanon should put up a reasonable fight, but we really can’t see either topping the group. It’s going to be tough for Lebanon to advance but Kuwait has a shot. Myanmar and Laos appear to be just along for the ride.

Group H: This group is out of control. Korea DPR and Philippines both sit on 6 points. No other team has any points, including Uzbekistan and Bahrain, our projected initial top two following the World Cup 2018 draw in this group. There’s good news and bad news here. Good: this is the most competitive group as expected and anyone (sans Yemen) really has a shot to win it. The bad news is that the best 2nd place team is unlikely to come from this group. We don’t give a single team in this group greater than a 40% chance of advancing.

 

CAF

World Cup 2018 Draw - CAF1World Cup 2018 Draw - CAF2

 

World Cup 2018 Draw Round 1

The teams in Pot 4 are much better than the teams in Pot 5 on the whole. We actually only project one Pot 5 team to advance, and that’s Chad over Sierra Leone.

World Cup 2018 Draw - CAF1

Namibia v. Gambia appears to be a virtual toss-up. Also Comoros-Lesotho, Liberia-Guinea-Bissau, Sao Tome-Ethiopia, the aforementioned Sierra Leone-Chad, and Tanzania-Malawi look like they can go either way.

It would be a complete shock to see Niger, Swaziland, Burundi, or Botswana not advance. They got the best draws.

World Cup 2018 Draw Round 2

14 teams were in Pots 2 and 3. These teams are all close in quality and will create some great matchups. The winners will go directly to the group stage.

World Cup 2018 Draw - CAF2

Zambia and Rwanda made out best here. Libya and Sudan are clearly the teams you wanted to draw, and some of the best teams in Pot 2 wound up with them. We’re also projecting these as if all teams play home matches truly at home. If Libya does not host in Libya, Rwanda’s odds of advancing go up.

The 3 matches to really keep your eye on are Mozambique-Gabon, Togo-Uganda, and Morocco-Equatorial Guinea. All 6 of those teams are very good, and 3 will not even make it to the group stage portion of qualifying. That’s crazy.

 

The 13 winners from Round 1 move on to face the 13 teams in Pot 1 waiting for them. The odds are not good. For any team. It could get pretty ugly. We fully project each of the 13 Pot 1 teams to move on to the group stage. Here’s How we view these 13 matchups.

World Cup 2018 Draw - CAF3

If you’re looking for an upset, Guinea might be the team that goes down. They haven’t been playing their best, and Namibia and Gambia aren’t too bad. We give Burundi and Botswana the highest odds of getting to the group stage out of all the Pot 4/5 teams. Mali and Congo DR can be beaten. Also don’t overlook Swaziland v. Nigeria. They’ve been playing really well.

And here’s a complete list in order of odds of advancing to the group stage for all 53 teams.

World Cup 2018 Draw - CAF4

We’ll be back with further odds once the group stage draw is done.

 

CONCACAF

CONCACAF had a mix of both qualifying already, but also being part of the draw. They’re the only confederation to do so. A lot of teams have already been knocked out of the competition. They are: Bahamas, British Virgin Islands, US Virgin Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands, Anguilla, Cayman Islands, Montserrat, Guyana, St. Lucia, Puerto Rico, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Bermuda, Barbados, St. Kitts and Nevis, Cuba, and Suriname. Yikes! 17 of CONCACAF’s 35 teams are already out of the competition. The remaining 18 participated in the draw. Here are the results:

World Cup 2018 Draw - CONCACAF

World Cup 2018 Draw Round 3

There will be 6 more home-and-away ties to determine the 12 teams that advance directly to the group stage. The teams that came out of Pot 3 have a pretty substantial advantage here, except in the case of Aruba. Not only was Aruba the most overrated team in the initial draw, they were already eliminated! But Barbados used an ineligible player so Aruba is back! Here’s how we see things shaking out:

World Cup 2018 Draw - CONCACAF1

Canada, Haiti, and Jamaica are HUGE favorites. They should really work over their opposition. It would be a huge upset to see any of those 3 fall short. After that, we like Guatemala and El Salvador (narrowly). We also think St. Vincent and Grenadines move on, if they stay in it. There’s an appeal from Guyana about another ineligible player. If Guyana comes back into the tournament, we’d like them to defeat Aruba and advance to the group stage. For purposes here, we’ll assume everyone stays as is.

World Cup 2018 Draw Round 4

We ran a bunch of simulations to calculate the odds of individual teams advancing to the Hex. Odds are obviously dependent upon who reaches the group stage. We take all of that into account. There are 4 possible combinations of each group. Here are the results of those simulations.

World Cup 2018 Draw - CONCACAF2

World Cup 2018 Draw - CONCACAF3

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So you must be wondering at this point: how do we interpret these? Well the top two from each group advance to the Hex, so each team’s individual probability of advancing is the sum of their probabilities of advancing in each scenario times the probability of being in that scenario.

Here are the probabilities of each scenario:

Group A:
Canada and Curacao advance: 32.5%
Canada and El Salvador advance: 61.5%
Belize and El Salvador advance: 3.9%
Belize and Curacao advance: 2.1%

Group B:
Jamaica and Grenada advance: 7.5%
Jamaica and Haiti advance: 86.5%
Nicaragua and Haiti advance: 5.5%
Nicaragua and Grenada advance: 0.5%

Group C:
Guatemala and St. Vincent and Grenadines advance: 52.5%
Guatemala and Aruba advance: 24.8%
Antigua and Barbuda and Aruba advance: 7.3%
Antigua and Barbuda and St. Vincent and Grenadines advance: 15.4%

And finally, here are the odds that each of the 18 teams still in play advance to the Hex:

World Cup 2018 Draw - CONCACAF6

Our 6 teams we project to advance are Mexico and Canada from Group A, Costa Rica and Jamaica from Group B, and USA and Trinidad and Tobago from Group C.

Mexico looks like the far and away favorite in Group A, while the USA looks the same in Group C. To see either of them not reach the Hex would be an absolute shock. Truly one of the biggest of our lifetimes. After them, Trinidad and Canada look like they should be the other two from those groups. There are a few other teams that could make some noise, but those have to be your favorites.

And the World Cup 2018 draw was not kind to Group B. Costa Rica and Panama to start is a lot to ask. Throw Jamaica in there too and an upstart Haiti, and you have a group that could truly go anywhere. No team has even a 70% chance of reaching the hex, and Costa Rica, Panama, and Jamaica are all well above 50%. That’s going to be a wild group.

There are also some stragglers in Grenada, Nicaragua, Aruba and Belize that really look like they’re just along for the ride. We don’t see any of those teams making a ton of noise, but hey. You’re still in it.

CONMEBOL

There was no draw for CONMEBOL. There’s just one massive group of 10. Here’s how we project the points:

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Right off the bat, Bolivia’s point projection seems awful low. They’re not a good team, but taking only 7-8 points from 18 matches seems a little silly. We think the projection is slightly under there, but we expect Bolivia to finish last in this group. Conversely, all the big boys project out to be those to advance. Argentina, Colombia, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay are the five best teams in South America. We expect four of them to qualify directly and the 5th to defeat the team coming from OFC. Ecuador and Peru look like the biggest challengers to that group, but they appear to be a ways back.

Here’s the massive projection matrix, followed by a simpler view.

World Cup 2018 Draw - CONMEBOL

World Cup 2018 Draw - CONMEBOL

It’s really hard to trust that there is such a variance between teams. For the bottom 5 to each have at best an 18% chance of reaching the playoffs seems like quite a low number, but how much different would you expect the odds to be? There’s a pretty significant dropoff in quality, so you have to at least expect some kind of split like this.

CONMEBOL Qualifying kicks off this fall, and these matches are always of the highest quality.

OFC

We’re not going to say a whole lot about the OFC, as they only even send 1 team to inter-confederation competition. The first round is comprised of Tonga hosting, American Samoa, Samoa, and the Cook Islands. Tonga will host matches between August 31 and September 4. Here are the results of that simulation:

On a side note, this is the first time we’ve run an OFC simulation, and it’s awful exciting to see Vanuatu thrown into the fray 2,500 times.

We expect Tonga, as hosts, to be the one to make it out of the first stage.

2018 World Cup Draw - OFC1

World Cup 2018 Draw Round 2

Group A: Tahiti, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Round 1 Winner
Group B: New Zealand, Solomon Islands, Fiji, Vanuatu

This is pretty interesting. The host of the 2nd round has not yet been determined, but Tahiti, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, and New Zealand are set to bid for the event. We have no additional information about location, but given Tahiti won the last one and New Zealand has hosted recently, we’re going to go with them as the projected host. The result is giving them an extra 0.55 goals in Home Advantage.

The top 3 in each group progress to the next round. Here’s how we project each group, and the highest odds of advancing to the final round.

World Cup 2018 Draw - OFC2

World Cup 2018 Draw - OFC3

Everyone has a real good shot to move on. At this point, New Zealand, Tahiti, and New Caledonia look like the 3 that should fare best. The others all have a good chance to move on with Papua New Guinea being weakest.

UEFA

The draw for the 2018 FIFA World Cup took place in St Petersburg's Constantine Palace today

The UEFA World Cup 2018 Draw is massive. 52 teams were drawn into 9 groups. There’s nothing else like it. It was obviously saved for last, and we did the same (of course we did it alphabetically). Before we get into each groups, we’re going to leave the point projections and simulations here.

 

World Cup 2018 Draw - UEFA1

World Cup 2018 Draw - UEFA2

Also, we’ll keep updating these odds throughout qualifying. It likely won’t be in one large post like this, but we will frequently have them. Make sure to check us out on Twitter and here for the latest!

Group A: Sweden got a real tough draw pulling both France and Netherlands. France was our team to avoid in Pot 2, as they truly did not belong. If they had not been host of EURO 2016, surely they’d be in Pot 1. Sweden will really have to work some magic to crack the top two. We’re projecting France to win the group with the Netherlands close behind them. Bulgaria, Belarus and Luxembourg are all not terrible teams, but the quality at the top of this group is such that we don’t give them much of a shot here.

Group B: Again we see a clear top two in Portugal and Switzerland. You probably never thought you’d see Faroe Islands, Latvia, and Andorra all in the same group. This is a perfect storm for the big boys. Even Hungary has to be happy with what they got. Switzerland and Portugal are good, solid teams, but they’re certainly not the best in Europe. All 3 teams have a chance to crack the top two. Keep an eye on Faroe Islands, who have been playing much better recently.

Group C: Nobody in this group should really give Germany much trouble in qualifying. Northern Ireland and Czech Republic are both quality, improving teams. But they’re not Germany. We don’t project any team to finish with higher than Germany’s 26.44 points in qualifying and give them an 89% chance to top the group. After that, Azerbaijan and San Marino shouldn’t do much. So it’s the two aforementioned teams and Norway likely fighting for a spot in the playoffs. We currently give the slightest of margins to Northern Ireland, but would bet on it being them or the Czechs going to the playoffs.

Group D: All of our favorites in one group! Wales and Austria have been WGF Rankings darlings, and unfortunately they wound up the same group. Add to that an Ireland team that was one of the best in Pot 4, and you’ve got a fun group. Again, Georgia and Moldova look like the clear bottom two in this group. We fancy Wales to top the group and qualify directly to the World Cup. We’re not all that high on Serbia anymore, as they’ve really struggled lately. We’ll go with Austria to finish a solid 2nd and move on to the playoffs.

Group E: This is a real tough group to call. We don’t give any team more than a 51% chance to top the group. Poland is our new crush, as they’re criminally underrated by FIFA. They schedule friendlies poorly, but wound up getting a pretty good draw. Romania and Denmark are also quality sides that have a chance to top the group or make the playoffs. Even Montenegro isn’t half bad. Ultimately, we believe Poland and Romania are a cut above the rest. We look for Poland to win the group and Romania to finish a narrow 2nd.

Group F: Surely, we’re about to stir the pot. England must feel thrilled drawing Slovakia, Scotland, and Slovenia. It seems like this should be a runaway for England. But our rankings don’t think so. Not only do they not think it’ll be a runaway, they like Scotland to come out and top the group! And at 55%! Now this is an awful ambitious prediction, but it’s certainly feasible. We give England an 81% chance to finish top 2 in the group, but still, to not project them at the top is quite the move. Slovakia and Slovenia to us were among the weakest in their respective pots, so it’s not a surprise to see these results.

Group G: The last of the 6 team groups, we’re going to continue to stir the pot here. We like Spain to top the group, which is fine. But after that, we like Albania to unseat Italy for the 2nd spot in this group. Not only do we not project Italy to top the group, we don’t even think they make the playoffs! Now surely this seems irrational given history, but Albania is a very, very good team. They’ve beaten some of the top teams in the world over the past year, and they look very strong. They lost 1-0 at Italy recently, so it’s not crazy to think they’re pretty even on a neutral ground. Israel and Macedonia got a tough draw here, and anything more than 4th place would be a little surprising. But don’t sleep on Albania.

Group H: Belgium made out like bandits at the draw. They got Bosnia, who was the weakest team in Pot 2. They got Greece, who was the weakest team in Pot 3. And they got Estonia, among the weakest in Pot 4. Belgium is one of the best teams in the world, and we give them an over 96% chance to top the group. We really expect them to clean house, and didn’t run a single simulation where they finished worse than 2nd. This is bad news for the other teams in the group, as failing to take any points against Belgium will really hurt qualifying for the playoffs. We expect the team that misses the playoffs to come from this group.

Group I: This is going to be an extremely tough group. Iceland, Croatia, Turkey, Ukraine, and Finland is solid top to bottom. Turkey must be ecstatic with this draw coming from Pot 4, as they’ve managed to avoid all the big boys. This group is wide open, and we think Iceland, Croatia and Turkey all make a run for the top two spots. We project Iceland to top the group by the narrowest of margins, as they’re right there with Croatia in terms of quality. Don’t expect this group to be settled early on.

Our Final 32

Host Russia has already qualified. (1)

From AFC, we like the 4 teams that have consistently been among the best to make it: Iran (2), Japan (3), Korea Republic (4), and Australia (5) are those teams. We like Qatar to advance to the playoff against CONCACAF, but don’t think they make it.

CAF has a lot of good teams, and it ultimately is going to come down to how the draw for the group stage plays out. Our top 5, however, that we project to reach the finals are Algeria (6), Tunisia (7), Senegal (8), Ghana (9), and Ivory Coast (10).

CONCACAF is going to be very interesting, and similar to CAF, the teams that reach the Hex will ultimately decide who makes it. We really like Mexico (11) and the USA (12) to reach the finals. After that, we’re high on Costa Rica (13), but they have a really tough group at the group stage. They need to make it out first. Ultimately we like Jamaica (14) to finish 4th in the Hex, advance to the playoffs, and beat Qatar.

CONMEBOL has a lot of big teams that we favor. Argentina (15), Colombia (16), and Brazil (17) all definitely should be there. We like Chile (18) to finish 4th and grab the last automatic spot. We also think Uruguay (19) destroys whoever they meet in the playoffs against OFC.

And the last 13 teams will come from UEFA. Our 9 group winners are France (20), Portugal (21), Germany (22), Wales (23), Poland (24), Scotland (25), Spain (26), Belgium (27), and Iceland (28).

The final 4 will come from the playoffs. We project the 8 in the playoffs to be Netherlands, Switzerland, Northern Ireland, Austria, Romania, England, Albania and Croatia. The last 4 that we’ll take are Netherlands (29), Romania (30), Austria (31), and England (32). It all depends on the draw for the playoffs.

 

We hope you enjoyed reading. Feel free to leave comments below about how Scotland can’t win their group or Albania would never finish above Italy. Also, comments are welcome about the literally thousands of other predictions featured in this article.

As always, thanks for reading and supporting We Global Football. World Cup Qualifying is fun, and we’re glad to get the conversation started with some predictions. Be sure to follow us on Twitter @We_Global as we keep things going throughout qualifying.

22 thoughts on “World Cup 2018 Draw – Results and Predictions

  • July 27 at 9:09 pm
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    Some bold predictions there. Scotland topping its group, Albania making the playoffs and eliminating Italy in the process, Iceland topping its group (though they are a good team).

    Reply
  • July 27 at 9:13 pm
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    I’m a bit curious as to why your rankings are so harsh on Slovakia. They have a 100% record in their Euro 2016 qualifying group and even beat Spain. Could you enlighten me as to why you have them so low? You’re a bit harsh on Italy, too. Why is that?

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    • July 27 at 10:29 pm
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      Slovakia’s lower ranking (they’re #40) is largely due to their strength of schedule and location of matches. Only 3 teams in UEFA have played a weaker schedule. Also their 1 goal win over Spain was at home. By contrast, Wales road victory over Belgium was much more impressive in our eyes due to opponent quality and match location.

      Slovakia gets extra credit for taking a ton of points, but the strength of schedule and home advantage factor really hold them back. We weight SOS pretty heavily, so they’re definitely hurt here.

      Our rankings also have never been high on Italy. They’re more of an anomaly. It seems like they either draw, win by 1, or lose by 1 every match. So Italy never has a large margin of victory, which holds them back. They also don’t take a high percentage of points. We may miss on them, but to expect them to run roughshod over the group would be naive.

      We do project both Slovakia and Italy with solid point totals at 19 apiece, but at this point we like some other teams in those groups a little better.

      Reply
      • October 11 at 6:25 pm
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        It seems you guys were right not to rate Slovakia so highly after all. They lost at home to Belarus yesterday. Yikes.

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  • July 29 at 2:32 pm
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    Ehm…First I have to make things clear and say that I’m Slovak. But If you had followed performances of the teams rather than statistics, you would know that Slovakia certainly wasn’t the “weakest” team in the pot 2 of European qualifying as you wrote. The national team has been playing up to their limit over last year, winning all 9 matches they played. And these were not easy matches, but Spain, Ukraine, Czech rep. and Belarus, whom also Spaniards defeated with great difficulty. So I don’t see why they should be disgraced in comparison with much-hyped Wales. Welsh were certainly cunning not to play frendlies, but in my eyes those good results from friendlies (with the likes of Czechs) are more valuable than doing nothing and being praised for it just because of three of four good results from fairly…hm, let’s say qualifying group without other consistent team and, of course, having Gareth Bale in squad.Your points (I’m talking to admin directly) in previous comment are furthermore misleading. I do not remember Wales beating Belgium away from home, the victory came in Cardiff. Praising Wales over parking bus twice in the matches with Belgium and one well played game against Israel seems unfair to me, and your favouring of British teams also. Czechs are surely better and their prospects are brighter from the long term point of view than those of Northern Ireland. Why? Irish are not so consistent in qualifying campaigns, while Czechs have deeper squad and always a promising youth which is able to carry the results after the elder generation. And this is the fact, proved by each qualification. But good thing from you that you at least appreciate good form of some other teams, such as Poland, Austria, Albania or Iceland. I really believe that Austrians will win their group, and believe that Poland and Iceland have real chance to do so.

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    • July 29 at 5:38 pm
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      No worries Marek, and thanks for the comments! And you are correct that Wales did beat Belgium at home. Our mistake.

      Our comments are strictly in regards to the results our rankings produce, and we had Slovakia and Bosnia ranked lowest in Pot 2. Slovakia ranks extremely well in % of points obtained and margin of victory. They don’t rank well in strength of schedule, which is based on the teams they’ve played and where they stand in our rankings. Unfortunately the rankings don’t think Ukraine and Spain are among the top in Europe currently, which hurts Slovakia. We weight that metric heavily, which is the reason we like some other teams better. We don’t ignore performance at all, but we also try to understand what went into that performance.

      We also don’t count friendlies any differently than other matches, so that has no effect. We definitely value more recent results highly (18 months), so there’s definitely a good amount of movement unlike other rankings. Ultimately, Slovakia got a manageable group. Could have done worse than drawing England. If the results come, we’re ok with being incorrect.

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      • July 30 at 4:22 am
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        I appreciate your points, just one last thing : In the time of 2016 Euro qualifying draw Spain and Ukraine were highest ranked teams from pot 1 and pot 2 respectively. Of course, their form and performances on the pitch in recent qualification may be unconvincing, but so are the performances of Belgium. But I don’t mean to complain all the time, I hope along with you that 2018 qualification will provide as thrilling competition as that for next year’s Euro does. I think that an important factor will be the final tournament in France which will indicate if teams currently doing well are capable of carrying on with their performances in the long term.

        Reply
        • July 30 at 7:32 am
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          Things will certainly change between now and the start of competition. We’ll do a “re-preview” after EURO. This is strictly based on how the rankings look right now.

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          • July 6 at 11:47 pm
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            I guess you should start that re-preview immediately because apart from Group A,B,C,D and E in UEFA I don’t think so any prediction makes sense specially Italy not making it to the playoffs? Come on man, they put up a good showing at the Euros and will probably top their group.
            Anyway, this is what I am expecting
            Group A- France, Netherlands
            Group B- Portugal, Switzerland
            Group C- Germany, Czech Republic
            Group D- Wales, Austria
            Group E- Poland, Romania
            Group F- England, Slovakia
            Group G- Italy, Spain
            Group H- Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina
            Group I- Croatia, Iceland
            Romania could possibly be the team to end last among the second-placed teams and based on the current rankings the playoff pots would be

            Pot 1 Pot 2
            Spain Slovakia
            Austria Czech Republic
            Switzerland Bosnia
            Netherlands Iceland

            Based on this Spain, Switzerland, Netherlands and Czech Republic should qualify from the play-offs

  • August 22 at 12:06 pm
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    I like Panama over Costa Rica in Group B of CONCACAF qualifying. Reason being that they’re in better shape than the Ticos, who had a disasterous Gold Cup followed by the firing of their manager Wanchope. So, CRC not reaching the HEX is my personal bold prediction. Also, I think we’ll see an Arab team qualify out of Asia, (i.e. UAE, Iraq), OR possibly a Chinese team coming to life taking the spot of an Iranian squad that struggles to score goals. I agree with a majority of your CONMEBOL predictions, but am reluctant to settle on the same exact 5 participants from 2014 reaching 2018, as I am not sure that has ever happened before. The team I am skeptical of is Uruguay, who has a habit of relying on the 5th place playoff to get them through in the end. I’d watch out Peru, who now has alot of momentum coming out of the Copa America in 3rd place. Africa is difficult to predict, but a young squad like Ghana, a resurgent Tunisian side, and a developing Senegalese outfit are excellent choices to reach Russia 2018. As for the other two spots, I’m going to be a little bold and exclude the Ivorians and the Algerians, and swap them for a talented Egyptian team that has no pressure to qualify after disappointing performances in 2010 & 2014. I’ll also opt for another west African side in the shape of Cape Verde, who were impressive in the last two African Nations Cup, and play with a lot of flare.

    As far as Europe is concerned, I do think you may be over-estimating Wales’ chances, considering the three other lower ranked teams in their groups are very difficult opponents. Serbia only struggled in Euro 2016 qualifying after having points deducted for bad fan behavior, but there is so much talent on that team. I truly think Group D is wide open. Group I is also another very, verry tough one to call, but I could definitely see Iceland topping it I strongly disagree with Italy not qualifying at all.

    For what its worth, here are my 32 qualifying picks –

    HOST – Russia
    CONCACAF – USA, Mexico, Panama, Jamaica ( beats China in playoff)
    CONMEBOL – Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Peru ( who beats New Zealand in the playoff)
    CAF – Ghana, Tunisia, Senegal, Egypt, Cape Verde Islands
    AFC – Japan, Australia, South Korea, U.A.E. (China loses to Jamaica in playoff)
    OFC – None ( NZ loses to Peru in playoff)
    UEFA – France, Portugal, Germany, Austria, Poland, England, Spain, Belgium, Iceland
    [Playoff qualifiers – Italy, Romania, Netherlands, Ukraine]

    Reply
  • October 10 at 3:56 pm
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    2% chance of Norway ending 1 or 2 ? According to you – Northern Ireland are a much better side than Norway despite Norway fighting with Croatia and Italy for 1 spot. Bold statement – but clearly not a very clever one.

    Reply
  • October 12 at 4:21 am
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    I think you are too harsh on Kenya, Tanzania and Central African Republic . Given the bloated nature of the quality of African football and the way home teams intimidate opponents, it will be little wonder if these three move on to the groups

    Reply
  • October 23 at 2:39 am
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    UEFA
    Group A
    1)France
    2)Sweden
    3)Netherlands
    1st place is obvious to me, but the second place will be a tough one. Unless Netherlands get their act together, they might miss this WC as well.

    Group B
    1) Portugal
    2) Switzerland
    3) Hungary
    I think the first and second place is rock solid with third place being at least 5 points behind.

    Group C
    1) Germany
    2) Czech Republic
    3) northrend Ireland
    4) Norway
    First place might be between Germany and Czech, but I wouldn’t write off Norway and northern Ireland yet as they might preform a miracle. Especially northern Ireland.

    Group D
    1) Austria
    2) Wales
    3) Serbia
    4) Republic of Ireland
    This is though one. I think Austria might get the first place with 2 points behind Wales. Serbia and Republic of Ireland might get the second place, but I doubt it will happen.

    Group E
    1) Poland
    2) Romania
    3) montenegro
    4) Denmark
    Poland is pretty good and I think they will top the group. Romania is pretty good as well, but I don’t think Denmark or montenegro will take their place. Third place might be Denmark, but montenegro is not bad as well.

    Group F
    1) England
    2) Scotland
    3) Slovakia
    4) Slovenia
    England with recent performances might top the group. Scotland, Slovenia and Slovakia will be fighting for that second place, but I think it will be a close fight with 1 or 2 points behind.

    Group G
    1) Spain
    2) Italy
    3) Albania
    This is pretty easy. Spain will take first place with Italy close behind. Albania needs a miracle in order to get second place.

    Group H
    1) Belgium
    2) Bosnia and Herzegovina
    3) Greece
    Belgium will dominate this group with bih being 4 to 5 points behind. If Greece puts up the same performance as in euro 16 qualifications, they might not even finish third.

    Group I
    1) croatia
    2) turkey
    3) Iceland
    4) Ukraine
    Croatia topping it with second place very close behind. I think goal difference might play here. Turkey is very good as well as Iceland and Ukraine, but turkey wins for me.

    Out of all second place, I think group F might end up being with lowest points. So this is the play off for second place :
    Sweden, Switzerland, Czech, Wales, Romania, Italy, BiH and turkey.

    Italy, BiH, Wales and Czech will end going to WC.

    Reply
  • December 30 at 1:15 am
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    Seriously Albania over Italy? That would be a major upsetting and stating the odds of Albania are better than Italy to finish second is absolute ludicrous but never less i really enjoyed these predictions. Also would enjoy hearing your thought on why Canada are so favoured in group A but won’t qualify overall.

    Reply
    • July 22 at 6:29 pm
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      Albania beat Romania 1-0 in Euro 2016 and Italy lost 0-1 to Ireland In the euros

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      • July 30 at 1:30 pm
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        Italy put their reserve squad for that match so that’s why they lost. With the best eleven, Italy would had won 3-0.

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  • March 10 at 4:55 pm
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    Here is my top 32

    Host- Russia

    AFC- Japan, Australia, South Korea, North Korea and Iran loses the AFC- CONCACAF playoff

    CAF- Cameroon, Algeria, Cape Verde, Ghana and Ivory Coast

    CONCACAF- United States, Mexico, Costa Rica and Panama wins the AFC- CONACACF playoff

    CONMEBOL- Colombia, Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Uruguay thrashes New Zealand in the OFC- CONMEBOL playoff

    OFC- None

    UFEA- France, Portugal, Germany, Wales, Poland, Slovakia, Italy, Belguim and Croatia
    Platoffs- England, Spain, Switzerland and Iceland

    Reply
  • July 10 at 12:47 pm
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    În Europe I think in Poland group poland1st romania2nd. Montenegro3rd. Denmark 4th Armenia 5th Kazakhstan 6th

    Reply
  • July 13 at 10:35 am
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    Why don’t you think Canada can make it out of the Hex? When will you make an update on the predictions because the euros are finished and some underdogs overachieved such as Hungary and Iceland and can do some damage at the qualifying stages

    Reply
  • August 30 at 9:07 pm
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    Italy not going to a world cup is ridiculous. I admit they’re in transition given Conte departing for chelsea, but given 13 slots and not thinking Italy isn’t one of them is almost the sort of odds as New Zealand reaching the final in Russia.

    Reply
    • August 31 at 7:41 pm
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      Our view has changed in the past year. Our rankings now like Italy.

      Reply

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