World Cup 2022 Qualifying – UEFA Preview

It took until March of 2021, but World Cup qualifying will finally get underway in UEFA. On the back of a successful UEFA Nations League campaign in the fall, 10 nations will qualify directly for the World Cup. The 10 second-place finishers will have a lifeline to the World Cup via the UEFA playoffs. Those 10 nations will be joined by the 2 best UEFA Nations League group winners not already accounted for among the first 20. The 12 playoff teams will be broken into 3 paths of 4. The winner of each path will also qualify for the World Cup to complete UEFA’s 13 team allotment. This is our World Cup 2022 Qualifying – UEFA Preview.

Before we get into the preview, our World Cup 2022 Qualifying – UEFA spreadsheet is available for DOWNLOAD HERE: https://weglobalfootball.bigcartel.com/product/world-cup-2022-qualifying-spreadsheet-uefa

GROUP A

Group A is made up of Portugal, Serbia, Republic of Ireland, Luxembourg, and Azerbaijan.

Portugal: Portugal has a 71.9% chance of winning the group and a 23.3% chance to make the playoffs. They are not a Nations League finalist, so to reach the playoffs, they need to finish 2nd in the group. There is no fallback option.

Serbia: Serbia is the likely challenger to Portugal in this group. They have a 22.9% chance of winning the group and a 53.1% chance to reach the playoffs.

Republic of Ireland: We only give this team a 5.1% chance to win the group, but they have a 21.4% chance to reach the playoffs.

Luxembourg: We don’t expect Luxembourg to be in play here. We think there’s only about a 1.6% chance they finish in the top two of the group.

Azerbaijan: Similar to Luxembourg, we give this team a 0.7% chance to finish top two.

Group B

Group B is made up of Spain, Sweden, Kosovo, Georgia, and Greece.

Spain: In our eyes, Spain is the overwhelming favorite to win the group at 90.5%. We don’t have them missing the playoffs in any scenario as a Nations League group winner. Spain missing out on Qatar 2022 would be a total shock.

Sweden: A distant 2nd. We only give Sweden a 6.7% chance to win the group, but they do have a 51.3% chance to finish 2nd and reach the playoffs.

Kosovo: A 1.7% chance to win the group and a 16.9% chance to reach the playoffs. Kosovo is going to have a difficult time in this tough group.

Georgia: Only a 0.4% chance to win the group and a 12.6% chance to reach the playoffs.

Greece: A 0.7% chance to win the group and a 10.8% chance to reach the playoffs. We think these bottom three teams are on fairly level footing.

Group C

Group C is made up of Italy, Switzerland, Northern Ireland, Bulgaria, and Lithuania.

Italy: We like Italy to win the group at 68.9%. Should they not win the group, they advance to the playoffs in every scenario we ran as UEFA Nations League finalists.

Switzerland: Certainly in play, we give Switzerland a 29.7% chance to win the group. They will need to finish 2nd to reach the playoffs, however. We give that a 58.6% chance.

Northern Ireland: There’s a big drop-off after the top two. We give this team a 1.4% chance to win the group and an 11.3% chance to make the playoffs.

Bulgaria: Only a 1.3% chance to reach the playoffs. Did not finish first in any simulation.

Lithuania: A 0.2% chance to reach the playoffs. Did not finish first in any simulation.

Group D

Group D is made up of France, Ukraine, Finland, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Kazakhstan.

France: This is a tough group. We still give France a 70.6% chance to win it, but it will not be easy. They reached the playoffs in every non-victory simulation.

Ukraine: Probably the biggest contender for France. Ukraine has a reasonable 17.0% chance to win the group. We give them a 36.0% chance to reach the playoffs.

Finland: A really tough draw here. We only give Finland a 9.2% chance to win the group, but that’s something. We also give Finland a 25.3% chance to reach the playoffs. They’re certainly in play.

Bosnia-Herzegovina: Bosnia has a 3.2% chance to win the group. As team #4, that’s not bad. They also have a 16.8% chance to reach the playoffs. This is a team to watch.

Kazakhstan: By far #5 in the group. We only give Kazakhstan a 0.4% chance to reach the playoffs.

Group E

Group E is made up of Belgium, Wales, Czech Republic, Belarus, and Estonia.

Belgium: We don’t like any team more in the competition to win their group. We give Belgium a 93.5% chance to win their group. They’ll be in the playoffs if they somehow do not.

Wales: Wales has just a 3.7% chance to win the group in our model, but they have a lifeline via the Nations League. We think there’s a 96.3% chance they go to the playoffs. Their competition is highly unlikely to end after the First Round.

Czech Republic: Similar to Wales, they have a lifeline via the Nations League. We give this team just a 2.6% chance to win the group, but via either 2nd place or the Nations League, there’s a 94.7% chance this team goes to the playoffs.

Belarus: Highly unlikely to be in play here. We think there’s a 0.2% chance they win the group and 7.2% chance they go to the playoffs.

Estonia: Just a 0.1% chance to reach the playoffs.

That does it for the 5 team groups. Again, a quick recommendation for our spreadsheet. You are able to enter all of the scores, view fixtures, and calculate who will progress through the tournament. You can project the playoffs using our rankings or view as is. https://weglobalfootball.bigcartel.com/product/world-cup-2022-qualifying-spreadsheet-uefa

Group F

Group F is made up of Denmark, Austria, Scotland, Israel, Faroe Islands, and Moldova.

Denmark: Our leader. We feel this team was deserving of Pot 1 in the draw. We give them a 69.5% chance to win the group and a 26.6% chance to finish 2nd and reach the playoffs.

Austria: Clear 2nd choice for us. We give Austria a 28.5% chance to win the group, but they can reach the playoffs via the Nations League as well. They reach the playoffs in 70.4% of simulations.

Scotland: We don’t fancy Scotland in this group. We give them just a 1.2% chance to win it and an 8.9% chance to reach the playoffs.

Israel: Not much better here. A 0.8% chance to win the group and a 7.4% chance to reach the playoffs.

Faroe Islands: Things get worse. We give the Faroe Islands just a 0.1% chance to reach the playoffs.

Moldova: Did not finish 1st or 2nd in any scenario.

Group G

Group G is made up of Netherlands, Norway, Turkey, Montenegro, Latvia, and Gibraltar.

Netherlands: Probably the most competitive group. We give the Dutch just a 56.5% chance to win the group. We have them at 28.4% to finish 2nd and advance to the playoffs.

Norway: One of the most upstart teams in the world, Norway could make some noise. We give them a 29.4% chance to win this group and a 39.5% chance to finish 2nd and advance to the playoffs.

Turkey: Turkey is also going to be tough in this group. Despite being projected 3rd, we give them a 13.7% chance to win the group and a 27.8% chance to come 2nd.

Montenegro: Another team that is not bad and could also qualify via the Nations League. We give Montenegro a 0.4% chance to win the group and a 7.8% chance to reach the playoffs.

Latvia and Gibraltar: Did not finish 1st or 2nd in any scenario.

Group H

Group H is made up of Croatia, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Cyprus, and Malta.

Croatia: This is a total toss up. Croatia, while favored, has just a 42.5% chance to win the group and a 31.3% chance to finish 2nd.

Russia: Right there with Croatia. They have a 40.9% chance to win the group and a 33.3% chance to finish 2nd.

Slovakia: Not to be outdone, Slovakia has an 11.7% chance to win the group, but they are dangerous. We give them a 22.2% chance to finish 2nd and stay alive.

Slovenia: Just a 4.8% chance to win the group, but Slovenia is in play through the Nations League. We give them a 26.8% chance to reach the playoffs.

Cyprus: After the top 4, things really drop off. We give Cyprus just a 0.1% chance to win the group and 0.2% chance to finish 2nd.

Malta: Did not finish 1st or 2nd in any scenario.

Group I

Group I is made up of England, Poland, Hungary, Albania, Andorra, and San Marino.

England: The overwhelming favorite to top the group at 81.8%. Should they fail to win the group, we give them a 15.4% chance of reaching the playoffs and just a 2.8% chance of not finishing #1 or #2.

Poland: We favor Poland to finish 2nd in this group fairly substantially. We think there’s a 14.9% chance they win the group and a 61.1% chance they finish 2nd and head to the playoffs.

Hungary: While just a 3.1% chance to win the group, Hungary is very much alive through the Nations League. We give them a resounding 74.3% chance to reach the playoffs.

Albania: Things really drop off after the top 3. Albania has just a 0.2% chance to win the group and a 2.2% chance to reach the playoffs.

Andorra and San Marino: Did not finish 1st or 2nd in any scenario.

Group J

Group J is made up of Germany, Romania, North Macedonia, Iceland, Armenia, and Liechtenstein.

Germany: We favor Germany to win this group fairly heavily. We give them a 62.5% chance of topping the group and a 28.1% chance of finishing 2nd.

Romania: Certainly the biggest challenger. We give Romania a 32.7% chance to win the group and a 44.5% chance to finish 2nd.

North Macedonia: Things drop off a bit after the top two. We give this team a 3.7% chance of finishing 1st and a 17.5% chance to reach the playoffs.

Iceland: Similarly, we’re down on Iceland. They’ve fallen off recently. We give them just a 0.8% chance of winning the group and a 5.9% chance of reaching the playoffs.

Armenia: Armenia checks in 5th with a 0.3% chance to win the group and a 4.0% chance to reach the playoffs.

Liechtenstein: Did not finish 1st or 2nd in any scenario.

Feel free to comment below with your thoughts on how qualifying will play out. Thank you again for reading!