UEFA Playoffs – Predictions, Odds and Probabilities for the 2018 World Cup

We are down to the final matchday in UEFA, and the possibilities seem endless. We’re here to break down each group, each scenario, and the probabilities of each happening.

First, Italy has already punched their ticket to the UEFA playoffs. So there are 7 spots available to the remaining teams.

Group A

Key Matches
France v. Belarus
Netherlands v. Sweden

For France, win and they will top the group. Additionally, if Sweden does not win, even a draw will suffice. But Sweden knew what they were doing against Luxembourg. They needed goal differential and they got it, so they should feel very strong to at least make the playoffs. Here’s how we project the matches to turn out.

Home Away Win% Loss% Draw%
France Belarus 83.4% 5.4% 11.2%
Netherlands Sweden 46.2% 23.1% 30.7%

We give Netherlands a 0.00% chance of beating Sweden by 7 goals, so from our perspective, they’re out. Additionally, because Greece has a 6 goal shortfall in GD v. Sweden, we have Sweden as a lock to get to at least the playoffs. We give France a 94.5% chance to win the group, and Sweden a 5.5% chance. Should France finish 2nd, they’re mathematically guaranteed to be in the playoffs.

Playoffs Odds
Sweden: 94.5%
France: 5.5%


Group B

Key Matches
Portugal v. Switzerland

About as straightforward as it gets.  If Portugal defeats Switzerland at home, they qualify for Russia. If Switzerland gets a result, they will qualify. Whoever finishes 2nd is guaranteed a spot in the playoffs. We give Portugal a 55.1% chance to win.

Playoffs Odds
Switzerland: 55.1%
Portugal: 44.9%


Group C

Northern Ireland is locked into 2nd place. Any point will guarantee them a spot in the playoffs. Even with a loss, they have a few outs depending on what happens in the other groups. They’re in great shape.

Playoffs Odds
Northern Ireland: 98.5%


Group D

Key Matches
Serbia v. Georgia
Wales v. Republic of Ireland

Home Away Win% Loss% Draw%
Serbia Georgia 71.2% 9.6% 19.2%
Wales Republic of Ireland 47.7% 22.0% 30.2%

Here’s where things get more interesting. Serbia, Wales, and Ireland are all in play here. If Serbia wins, they’ll qualify directly. If Serbia draws Georgia and Wales does not win, Serbia will likely qualify directly (unless Ireland wins by 6 goals).  If Serbia loses by 1 and Wales/Ireland draw, Serbia qualifies directly.

Couple all of this together and we give Serbia an 82.3% chance to win the group, Wales a 15.5% chance, and Ireland a 2.2% chance.

Once you get to the playoffs, the Group D 2nd place finisher may be in trouble. We think there’s a 26.7% the worst 2nd place team comes from this group. If Wales wins, they are guaranteed at least a spot in the playoffs. If any of the top 3 draw, there’s no guarantee a Group D team gets in.

Playoffs Odds
Wales: 46.9%
Republic of Ireland: 14.8%
Serbia: 11.6%


Group E

Key Matches
Denmark v. Romania
Poland v. Montenegro

Home Away Win% Loss% Draw%
Denmark Romania 61.5% 13.9% 24.5%
Poland Montenegro 74.4% 8.4% 17.2%

Montenegro will need a miracle. They need to win at Poland and have Romania win at Denmark. There’s only a 1.2% chance hat happens, and even then, they still need help.

Poland also just needs a point to qualify directly, or any Denmark slip-up. We give Poland a 94.8% chance to top the group. When you add all of it up, it really looks like it’ll be Denmark headed to the playoffs. Because of their goal differential, they should be fine. Group E will send a team to the playoffs.

Playoffs Odds
Denmark: 93.9%
Poland: 5.4%
Montenegro: 0.7%


Group F

Key Matches
Slovakia v. Malta
Slovenia v. Scotland

Home Away Win% Loss% Draw%
Slovakia Malta 94.3% 1.9% 3.8%
Slovenia Scotland 29.5% 38.2% 32.3%

3 teams in play, but the probabilities are very straightforward. Scotland needs to win, or draw and have Slovakia not defeat Malta. We give Scotland a 40.1% chance of finishing 2nd in the group. Slovakia needs a win and Scotland not to win to finish 2nd. We estimate that probability at 58.2%. Slovenia must win and have Slovakia not win. There’s about a 1.7% chance of that happening.

But it does not end there. Group E could be in a bit of trouble should the 2nd place team not be Scotland.

If Scotland defeats Slovenia, they’re guaranteed to be in. But no team has a greater probability in qualifying of finishing 2nd and not making it than Slovakia. There’s a 38% chance Slovakia is the worst 2nd place team. Even though Slovakia has a greater chance than Scotland to finish 2nd, Scotland has a much better chance to make the playoffs because of the scenarios necessary for them to finish 2nd.

Playoffs Odds
Scotland: 37.8%
Slovakia: 20.0%
Slovenia: 0.0%


Group G

Nothing to see here. Italy is locked into 2nd place and locked into a spot in the playoffs.


Group H

Key Matches
Estonia v. Bosnia-Herzegovina
Greece v. Gibraltar

Home Away Win% Loss% Draw%
Estonia Bosnia-Herzegovina 21.8% 48.1% 30.1%
Greece Gibraltar 96.6% 0.8% 2.6%

Bosnia is basically out. They must win, have Greece not defeat Gibraltar, and get a ton of help. Not gonna happen, even though they’re not mathematically eliminated yet.

Greece is in a weird spot. Their last game against Gibraltar will not count towards the 2nd place standings. They just need to make sure they finish in 2nd place. We give them a 98.1% chance of doing so. They’re in the clubhouse with 13 points and a +4 goal differential for the 2nd place standings. They will need some help, but look to be in pretty good shape.

Playoffs Odds
Greece: 88.1%
Bosnia-Herzegovina: 0.0%


Group I

Key Matches
Ukraine v. Croatia
Iceland v. Kosovo

Home Away Win% Loss% Draw%
Ukraine Croatia 39.9% 28.1% 32.1%
Iceland Kosovo 81.9% 5.8% 12.2%

Iceland had a historic victory over Turkey, while Croatia choked at the death against Finland. This has put Iceland in a fantastic spot. Win and into World Cup 2018. We give them a 91.4% chance of topping the group. Iceland is a practical lock to make the playoffs should they finish 2nd.

Additionally, since 14 is the magic number for the playoffs, it’s simple for Ukraine. Defeat Croatia at home and keep your campaign alive.

Croatia is in a bit of a tough spot, but also will move on with a win. If they only draw at Ukraine, they will finish 2nd, but are in real danger of missing the playoffs. Croatia should be looking to win, so that Ukraine v. Croatia game should be interesting.

Playoffs Odds
Croatia: 37.8%
Ukraine: 35.3%
Iceland: 8.5%



Putting it all together, here’s what the playoffs look like:

As far as our results, what we ultimately expect the playoffs to look like are:

Key results for us are: Slovenia draws Scotland, Wales defeats Ireland, Croatia draws Ukraine.

The pots for the Playoffs, based on the October FIFA Rankings would be:

Pot 1

Pot 2
Northern Ireland


Agree or disagree? Thank you for reading and enjoy the final matchday. Please give us a follow on Twitter @We_Global


One thought on “UEFA Playoffs – Predictions, Odds and Probabilities for the 2018 World Cup

  • November 8 at 1:36 pm

    Ireland made it to the playoffs by pure power of will
    The Irish wanted it and had nothing left to lose
    and by that were loose

    Now they have so much to gain
    How will the trainer make them loose again?
    The Irish should rely on their physical power-play and run run run…
    Disturb the Danish where-ever they come upto 40 metres to the Irish goal
    I don’t want to see one Irish player with a breath of air left after the match!