2018 FIFA World Cup Projections


World Cup MessiThough the World Cup draw isn’t until December 1st, 2017, it’s never too early to take a look at the most likely teams to make it to Russia. In this post, we will attempt to accomplish two things. First, during the qualifying stages, we will project the qualifiers. Second, once qualifying is complete, we will simulate the group stage and playoffs to provide probabilities for each team to win the World Cup.

Though expansion has been discussed for future World Cups, this iteration of the tournament will feature 32 teams from six confederations. Each confederation is given a certain allotment of spots to the tournament. These will be described in more detail below.

The following projections are based entirely on results from matches that have already been played and simulations on matches that have yet to be played. These projections are entirely forward looking which means that you are seeing the probabilities of the simulations.

Host Country: 1 Bid

As is customary in World Cup, the host country gets a free bid into the tournament as the first team in Group A. With Russia being the host, they are the team that will utilize this benefit in 2018.

TeamProbability to Make World CupNotes
Russia100%Automatic qualifier as the host country.

UEFA: 13 Bids

UEFA, by far, has the most slots available to get into the World Cup this year. This is simply a result of them consistently being the strongest FIFA confederation year after year. The nine group winners in their qualifying tournament get bids into the tournament. The top eight 2nd place finishers go to a second round two leg match to determine the last four bids.

TeamProbability to Make World CupNotes
Germany99.8%Likely winner of Group C
Poland99.4%Likely winner of Group E
Belgium97.4%Likely winner of Group A
England92.5%Likely winner of Group F
France89.2%Likely winner of group H
Spain85.8%Likely winner of Group B
Switzerland85.1%Likely winner of Group G
Italy82.2%Likely 2nd Round Winner
Portugal79.6%Likely 2nd Round Winner
Croatia57.6%Likely winner of Group I
Ireland56.7%Likely winner of Group D
Serbia54.3%Likely 2nd Round Winner
Iceland43.4%Likely 2nd Round Winner

For more detail, see: UEFA World Cup Qualifying Projections.

CONCACAF: 3 or 4 Bids

The final round of CONCACAF qualifying has six teams, three of which get an automatic bid to the World Cup. The fourth place team plays in a 2 leg playoff against the fifth place team from the AFC confederation. Our simulations show that it is around 66% likely that the AFC will win that two leg playoff, so we will only project three bids from CONCACAF right now.

TeamProbability to Make World CupNotes
Mexico100%Not officially a lock, but are all but in.
Costa Rica96.1%Likely 2nd place in group.
USA86.2%Likely 3rd place in group.

For more detail, see: CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying Projections.

AFC: 4 or 5 Bids

This confederation will qualify the top two teams from each of the two final AFC qualifying groups. As stated in the CONCACAF section, the winner here has a very good chance to win the inter-confederation playoffs so we currently project them at 5 bids.

TeamProbability to Make World CupNotes
Iran100%Winner of Group B
Japan93.5%Likely winner of Group A
Australia78.4%Likely 2nd place in Group A
Saudi Arabia70.4%Could end up in 2nd place in Group or likely win playoff.
South Korea65.5%Likely 2nd place in Group B

For more detail, see: AFC World Cup Qualifying Projections.

CONMEBOL: 4 or 5 Bids

The top four teams in group play get bids to the World Cup, while the fifth place team enters a playoff against the best team that comes out of the OFC confederation. Whoever finishes fifth will be heavily favored over the team that comes out of the OFC, so you will find 5 bids projected here.

TeamProbability to Make World CupNotes
Brazil100%Brazil has already locked up a spot in the World Cup.
Colombia87.0%Likely 2nd place in group.
Argentina86.7%Likely 3rd place in group.
Uruguay83.2%Likely 4th place in group.
Chile80.6%Likely winner of the inter-confederation playoff.

For more detail, see: CONMEBOL World Cup Qualifying Projections.

OFC: 0 or 1 Bids

New Zealand is the current favorite to win the OFC group, but are highly unlikely to beat the team from CONMEBOL. Right now, our simulation shows about a 29.5% chance that a team from OFC earns a bid to the World Cup.

CAF: 5 Bids

Comparatively, this one is pretty easy. The CAF confederation gets five bids to the World Cup and those are given to the five teams that win their groups in qualifying.

TeamProbability to Make World CupNotes
Egypt85%Likely winner of Group E
Nigeria69.1%Likely winner of Group B
Ivory Coast58.5%Likely winner of Group D
D.R. Congo60.2%Likely winner of Group A
Senegal35.9%This is a very tight group. Could go a few ways.

For more detail, see: CAF World Cup Qualifying Projections.

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