World Cup 2018 Previews – Teams 24-21

Welcome to the WGF World Cup 2018 Previews – Teams 24-21. Below are the other links we’ve posted previously:

Teams 32-29
Teams 28-25

We ran 25,000 (!) simulations of the tournament. Once the previews are concluded, we’ll post all of our numbers/predictions in the same place for reference. Also, we know the “betting” odds don’t line up. I.e. 1 in 500 is not 0.2%. The percentages we indicate below pull out the “juice”. WGF does not charge juice for our percentages.

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24. Egypt

WGF Odds to win: 1 in 930- 0.108%
Betting Odds to win: 1 in 200 – 0.442%

Egypt’s return to the World Cup has been a long time coming. It has been 28 years since Egypt last reached the World Cup. Egypt had by far the most dramatic entrance to Russia. Just give it a watch. It’s a goal that won’t be forgotten for many, many years to come.

Unfortunately, there are now more questions than answers surrounding Egypt and Mohamed Salah after getting roughed up by Sergio Ramos in the Champions League final. He is their talisman and key to success. After all, he is one of the best players in the world. It’s not that Egypt is totally helpless without him, but things are going to be that much harder.

Luckily for Egypt, the draw was kind. Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Uruguay is about the best you can hope for. We give Egypt almost a 50/50 shot to make it out of the group. For a CAF team especially, that’s pretty good.

Looking for an Egypt-Spain grudge match in the Round of 16? We give it a 20.4% chance of happening.

 

Why the Numbers are Wrong

As EURO 2016 proved, any time you bring one of the best players to the table, you can go deep into a tournament. Coupled with a weak group, Egypt could easily find themselves in the Round of 16. In an elimination game, that could go either way.

Why the Numbers are Right

Same story, different team. Results just have not been there against top competition. Egypt hasn’t defeated a Top 50 WGF team in almost 4 and a half years. Egypt is clearly one of the best in Africa, but they have yet to prove they can translate that success to global progress. Egypt has performed well recently when it matters most though. To have them much higher than this would probably be a bit of a stretch.

 

23. Iran

WGF Odds to win: 1 in 806- 0.124%
Betting Odds to win: 1 in 650 – 0.136%

It appears we’re in the same boat as the betting public at large when it comes to Iran. They’re our #1 team in Asia right now and have been for a good 6 months. Iran has been one of the hottest teams in the world for arguably the last 3.5 years. Before their loss to Turkey in late May, Iran had just 2 losses over their previous 33 matches. They lost in March 2018, March 2017, and March 2015. In fact, prior to that Turkey defeat, Iran hadn’t lost a match not played in March since the 2014 World Cup when they lost to Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Iran got a terrible draw. That’s pretty much all there is to it. Portugal, Spain and Morocco is brutal. More than anything, this is the reason for trepidation when it comes to projecting Iran. Alireza Jahanbakhsh had an incredible season in Holland. Ghooch did slide a bit this past season, but Iran has the talent to compete.

 

Why the Numbers are Wrong

Seeing a team this good, this low, is arguably incorrect. And despite only finishing with 1 point in Brazil in 2014, this team held their own. This is an experienced roster with some players in fine form. It would be hard to see them top a Spain, but shock Portugal and defeat Morocco and you could see this team move on.

Why the Numbers are Right

How high can you truly put ANY team that is in a 4 team group with Spain and Portugal where the top 2 move on. With Spain being in Pot 2 for the draw, someone had to draw the short straw. This is a strong team, but if they are anything but a whipping boy in Group B, they should be ecstatic with that performance. We only give Iran a 14.5% chance to advance.

 

22. Costa Rica

WGF Odds to win: 1 in 676- 0.148%
Betting Odds to win: 1 in 550 – 0.161%

Again, we’re largely aligned with Costa Rica’s prognosis. The Ticos are one of our guilty pleasures. Despite mixed results, they always play a tough schedule. And they’ve done it on the biggest stage, shocking the world and moving on from a group with Italy, England, and Uruguay. This time around they’ll have to do it against Brazil, Switzerland, and Serbia, which is a lot more difficult than it may seem.

Costa Rica is a team of veteran players that will not be pushed around. Kendall Waston is a monster at the back. Bryan Ruiz and Marco Urena have done it for years. The big problem for Costa Rica will likely be scoring. Before bagging 3 mere days ago against Northern Ireland, Costa Rica had scored just 16 goals over their past 20 games. That’s not going to cut it against the other teams in this group.

 

Why the Numbers are Wrong

We may be overrating Switzerland. Costa Rica can certainly get out of this group. They could also end up avoiding Germany in the Round of 16 and keep moving on. Things need to fall the right way for Costa Rica, but at 676/1, there are certainly worse picks.

Why the Numbers are Right

Costa Rica will have to have a tremendous run in order to repeat their success of 2014. Additionally, Switzerland is one of our dark horses in this tournament. They’re playing as well as anyone in the world right now, and this just seems an unfortunate pairing. Don’t expect Costa Rica to be a pushover by any means.

 

21. Nigeria

WGF Odds to win: 1 in 543- 0.184%
Betting Odds to win: 1 in 200 – 0.442%

Freshest kits? Check

WGF’s #1 African team? Check

Yes, they’re friendlies, but Nigeria defeated Argentina in November 4-2. They defeated Poland in March 1-0. They played England tough. This team is going to compete in Russia, for sure. Drawing 2 UEFA teams and a CONMEBOL team, like Costa Rica, is unfortunate.

Additionally, Nigeria is bringing a young, hungry squad to Russia. Alex Iwobi has just 18 caps. 6 other players have fewer than 10 caps. Only 4 players have more than 25 appearances for the national team. In what was expected to be a tough group with Algeria and Cameroon, Nigeria breezed through qualifying. This is a team on the rise, and we think they are certainly good enough to make some noise.

We give Nigeria a 24.8% chance to get out of the group, but it probably should be higher.

 

Why the Numbers are Wrong

Unlike many of the other teams from Africa and Asia, Nigeria has done it against good competition. They have the best Strength of Schedule in CAF and the highest percentage of points obtained. They are also 3rd in margin of victory behind Morocco and Senegal. Paired with Croatia and Iceland gives Nigeria a chance to move on. If they avoid France, they could be a nice surprise in Russia.

Why the Numbers are Right

It really feels like we’re overly harsh on Nigeria. They’ve got really strong peripheral stats. They are probably harmed in our rankings by playing so many CAF teams. They’re still likely to finish bottom or 3rd in the group, which makes their odds fair. Not overly punitive, but fair. We have a lot of hope for Nigeria.

 

 

Thanks again for keeping up with our predictions, and we’ll be back tomorrow with 4 more teams. Again,┬áplease give us a follow on Twitter @We_Global. We appreciate the support!

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