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Friday, September 13, 2013

2014 FIFA World Cup final seeding simulations (13 September 2013)

More about the simulations in the second and third paragraphs of the first 'Road to Brazil' post.

Most improved since the 6 September simulations:

46.67% - Uruguay
18.93% - Belgium
17.09% - Italy
7.23% - Switzerland
2.14% - Argentina

Most declined:

-35.53% - Netherlands
-26.79% - England
-16.41% - Portugal
-8.07% - Croatia
-5.01% - Ecuador

Chances of being seeded over the 10000 simulations:

100% - Brazil
100% - Argentina
99.98% - Spain
96.91% - Italy
96.68% - Germany
74.39% - Colombia
69.66% - Uruguay
63.52% - Belgium
33.88% - Switzerland
27.56% - Netherlands
17.74% - Croatia
9.49% - Portugal
6.84% - Chile
3.33% - England
0.02% - USA

Chances of being seeded if the team has qualified

100% - Brazil
100% - Argentina
100% - Spain
97.01% - Germany
96.91% - Italy
75.24% - Uruguay
74.39% - Colombia
64.25% - Belgium
33.98% - Switzerland
27.56% - Netherlands
27.32% - Croatia
11.82% - Portugal
6.96% - Chile
3.83% - England
0.02% - USA

About me:

Christian, husband, father x 3, programmer, Romanian. Started the blog in March 2007. Quit in April 2018. You can find me on LinkedIn.


  1. Part of me would love to see 4 South American teams seeded (specially since it's a South America WC). On the other hand, it makes me fear the Draw and the group of death scenarios. Ay ay ay...

  2. Looks like Netherlands lost a lot with that tie against Estonia.

  3. Can anyone elaborate about this theory that Uruguay will never be seeded because of a max quotum of South American teams to be seeded?

  4. Belgium is among the 8 strongest teams in the world, so they deserve to be seeded. I'd like to see them play against The Netherlands in the group stage!

  5. Souns like BS. But we can expect BS from FIFA. If they follow last WC's seeding criteria, Uruguay has good chances to be seeded(as shown above). If we have some desperat european giants crying (like England, Netherlands) and complaining, maybe FIFA will make one of those last minute criteria changes to favor Europe. But let's be real, Uruguay has done a lot more than any European country ranking below them. Semi-finals WC 2010, Copa America champions, semi-finals in Confederations Cup (with an undesserved defeat vs Italy).

    More realistic than what you say is to expect the following: "Seeded countries should have participated in WC 2010". In which case, Colombia will lose their seeding spot giving it away to a European country: Switzerland/Netherlands I suppose.

    1. Juan, I haven't heard any crying and complaining here in the Netherlands about that. We know perfectly well that it is our own fault if we end up being not seeded.

    2. Yes, sorry Ed. What I mean to say is that IF they start to complain and pressure FIFA, perhaps they change the criteria to favor Europe. I didn't mean to say that you guys are crying at the moment!
      Well, if you are crying is out ouf sadness, like Homer. But of course I haven't heard anybody crying and complaining about seeding either.

    3. I would surely hate it when FIFA adopts another seeding procedure than last time around. That would make them even more unbelievable than they are already.
      Please FIFA, do me/us a favor, and next time publish your seeding procedure beforehand !

    4. I don't think in fairness it is the football associations of the Netherlands and England who 'cry' to FIFA and ask them to change it. And let's face it with the relationship between England and FIFA the way it is at the moment they are very unlikely to do anything to help England unless they absolutely have to!

    5. Ed, I agree. And if that happens, from that moment on a guy like Edgard will be working in every top football association looking to be seeded, haha.

    6. Depends on what that published seeding procedure takes into account :)
      I think the description of "FIFA's momentum meter" that someone gave recently for the ranking, is rather adequate. The ranking shouldn't be the only criterium.

    7. Ed, well I didn't read that post. But I guess it has something to do with the 100% weight awarded to the last year in the ranking. The funny thing is that 20% is given to the year when the WC was played. Maybe something like:
      50% WC year
      50% current year
      30% last year
      20% previous to last year.

      This way the momentum is smoothed by the WC results, which is desirable. I wonder what the scenario would be today with this weights. Of course, there would be a conflict when WC year=current year. But there are a million ways to sort it out.

    8. Juan, just for fun. Here's the top 20 of the predicted October 2013 ranking according to your proposal. In brackets the difference in position with the latest predicted October ranking.

      1 Spain 1244 (-)
      2 Germany 1054 (+2)
      3 Argentina 1028 (-1)
      4 Netherlands 1024 (+4)
      5 Uruguay 912 (+4)
      6 England 870 (+6)
      7 Brazil 860 (+6)
      8 Portugal 855 (+3)
      9 Italy 841 (-5)
      10 Croatia 833 (-4)
      11 Switzerland 771 (-4)
      12 Greece 768 (+4)
      13 Colombia 767 (-10)
      14 Chile 737 (-)
      15 Russia 733 (+2)
      16 Belgium 709 (-6)
      17 Cote d'Ivoire 665 (+3)
      18 USA 662 (-3)
      19 Ghana 660 (+5)
      20 Norway 649 (+12)

      As to be expected Colombia, Belgium and Italy would be the biggest victims of your proposal. Main beneficiaries would be England, Uruguay, Portugal and the Netherlands. You wouldn't hear me complaining :)

    9. Nice work Ed, that's a good looking seeding scenario for me. In my opinion it's more fair than the current one. Results from last WC should have more weight, than the results one year after the WC, for example. I know you don't like Netherlands play at the moment, but when it comes to a seeding criteria, how can we forget the fact that they finished 2nd in the last WC!

    10. Ed, what would the results be if each of the four years was equally weighted? (Note that the WC matches would still carry higher multipliers so they would indeed count heavily.)

    11. Dorian, here's the top 20 of the predicted October ranking with equal weights for each time frame (50%):

      1 Spain 1593 (-)
      2 Germany 1387 (+2)
      3 Argentina 1311 (-1)
      4 Netherlands 1275 (+4)
      5 Uruguay 1188 (+4)
      6 Italy 1160 (-2)
      7 England 1141 (+5)
      8 Portugal 1131 (+3)
      9 Croatia 1095 (-3)
      10 Brazil 1056 (+3)
      11 Colombia 1052 (-8)
      12 Greece 1025 (+4)
      13 Switzerland 1012 (-6)
      14 Russia 990 (+3)
      15 Chile 950 (-1)
      16 Belgium 948 (-6)
      17 Cote d'Ivoire 902 (+3)
      18 France 894 (+5)
      19 Sweden 884 (-)
      20 Mexico 868 (+1)

      Roughly the same trends as in Juan's proposal.

    12. To Ed, I feel your proposal is the one FIFA would most likely use. Mainly because I just can't see Italy not be seeded given the fact not only they qualified with two games to spare, but they finished 2nd in the Euros and 3rd in the Confederations Cup

    13. Well, I think I like Dorian's proposal a little better. He is right, what's the need for all the weigths? The multipliers take care of everything. You could just directly average the results over the past 4 years. That way, you consider performances in the last WC and also the continental competitions. And this ranking would show a view of which are the strongest teams over the past four years. FIFA's ranking is very slanted towards the current year. The ranking says Belgium should be seeded, when they didn't qualify for neither last WC nor last Euro cup. It says Colombia should be seeded, when they were absent in last WC and eliminated in quater-finals of last Copa America. Kind of unfair...

  6. If 4 South American and 4 European teams are seeded, there remain 9 European teams. Each pot has 8 spots, so there will be a 'special pot' voor the nineth European team, just like in 2006 when Serbia and Montenegro were selected (as worst placed in the FIFA ranking of november 2005) to fill that special pot. They were drawn in a group with a non-european seed.

    That's all. No need to have a max quotum of seeds for South America just to prevent this situation.
    If there is another reason to have this quotum then I'm curious to hear about it.

  7. Call me a pessimist, actually you already did ;-), but it wasn't only the draw against Estonia. In the summer the Dutch FA also chose for money, going to China and Indonesia. Now they'll probably lose money at the World Cup. They should have consulted with Edgar to get the most money out of the most "useful" opponents. ;-) Or maybe even not have played at all, which might have resulted in a better average. If you talk to people in NL you'll also hear that most people don't care for such matches, but want to see us playing Argentina, Brazil, Germany, Spain, etc. You only get better if you play against the best. And of course there's the Dutch mentality. We were leading against both Italy and Portugal, and only just managed to score our own injury time winner against England when we were leading 2-0. Part of what you call "pessimism" is to prepare for failure, so that that won't hurt, and hoping that the end-result will be better, so that you end up with a positive feeling at the end. Opposite to believing your team is the best, and then being left with a bad feeling when your team performs below your expectations.

    1. Haha, maybe. They say a pessimist is an optimist with experience. Yea I knew about those matches in Asia, what a waste!

      What I meant is, from last Friday to this Friday, Netherlands seeding chances dropped by 35%. I was wondering, how much of that 35% was caused by their tie against Estonia, and how much was it caused by other results.

    2. @Homer

      "They should have consulted with Edgar" - that will be day!

    3. We can put this as a question to Edgar. What would Netherlands seeding chances be, had they won their game agaisnt Estonia?

    4. Thanks Edgar. Wow! I didn't expect that to be so High. It was indeed a cotly tie. I wonder if the players knew about the possible impact of not winning...What a pity! I actually want them to be seeded so we don't have to face them..:)

    5. Ed, I have another question. What would be Netherlands seeding chances if they would have a better result in Euro2012? For example, if they would have win against Denmark, Portugal or win the cup? I think that those matches are much more important that the Asia matches, and maybe also the draw against Estonia.

    6. Federico, interesting question.

      Of course that tournament was one big black page in recent Dutch football history, but let's say the Netherlands had 3 draws there and not three losses in the group stage. Then they would have already a predicted 1198 points (with two qualifier-wins next month). A top 7 spot in the predicted October ranking would still not be a gimme, but they would be in a much better position to hold off Belgium, Switzerland and Uruguay than in current circumstances (1136 points).
      One win in the Ukraine and they would end well above the 1200 points next October.

      But woulda, coulda, shoulda ...

    7. Thanks Ed, I sent you an email. Have you seen it?

    8. No, probably because I'm not Edgar :)

  8. Juan, I warned them 3 weeks ago !

    But you can't expect an average somebody from the football-world to take any interest in these matters :)

  9. The Netherlands are trying to get a high ranked opponent BEFORE november, as it reads in the Dutch newspapers today.

    Maybe some of you experts can send in some good opponent tips so we can be seeded after all...

    1. There is no clarity about the seeding procedure, so how can you work towards a seeded spot ?

      But let's assume the October ranking is the only criterium. The match calender shows that before October 17th (publishing date of the October ranking) only maybe Tuesday Oct 8th is an opportunity to play a friendly. Let's assume a friendly WIN against Spain (and of course two wins in the remaining qualifiers).

      All this will give the Netherlands 1139 points in the October ranking, a mere 3 points extra in comparison to the situation with just two qualifier-wins (1136 points). Mind you, a draw (1106 pts) or loss (1089 pts) (it is Spain we're talking about) wouldn't help at all.

      I would advise you: drop the idea and put your efforts in substantially improving the level of play of the team before the WC next year.

    2. That's a great 'angry fan' reply...

    3. Yeah, you're right Juan, I am a bit angry.
      Much blah blah about becoming a seed 'after all', while the level of play in the last few matches was awful against, I have to admit, rather strong opposition :D

      If they continue this level at the WC, we are back home after three matches, seeded or not, just like at the last EURO.

    4. Sorry to read that, Ed. It's interesting to get to know the internal opinion about a team. In Argentina, we think that the Netherlands is a great team, a team to fear. We still remember that last minute goal from Bergkamp in WC98. I for sure wouldn't like to face you guys in the group stage. Then on the other hand, I am now reading these strong opinions from you and Homer. In Argentina some people say we won't even make it through the first round because we have such a weak defense. Myself, I really don't know what will happen, but I think a realistic goal for us is to reach semi-finals. I wonder what people outside think of us. Brazil, Germany and Spain will be the strong teams although I have this feeling that European teams will have a hard time at this South American WC. I hope to see a South American domination. Time will tell...

    5. Argentina is one of the 4 favourites (together with Brazil, Germany and Spain) ... but more than 2 S.American teams reaching the semi-finals ... those odds are slim (lower than +2 European teams achieving the same). Most likely 1 European & 1 S.American team will reach the final.

      Holland is still a dark horse but other teams, i.e. Belgium and Italy, have slightly better odds.

      So these 4 have the best odds to reach the (semi-) finals: Brazil, Argentina, Germany and Spain. The odds for the dark horses are of course a bit lower ... ranking them from highest to lowest:

      ... followed by France, Portugal and Uruguay (as very dark horses).

    6. Juan, that were totally different times. We had indeed a team that could impress an opponent. Nowadays, take a look at the quality in the team. Besides Van Persie and Robben (and maybe Sneijder if he returns to form) it is a lot of middle class on the midfield. And our defense has to step up 4-5 notches to become middle class.

      No, then Argentina: a monstruously hard qualifying campaign with no soft opposition and sometimes very disadvantageous away-conditions. And you are sort of sailing through it. A lot of world class players up front with Messi, Aguero, Di Maria and Lavezzi. I don't know about your defense; no known names for me there, except for the good goalkeeper Romero (ex-AZ).

      About the World Cup: Anon above has a rather realistic view on things, I would say. Except that the Netherlands really has to improve to become a dark horse.

    7. Thanks Ed ... I do share your view that the current Dutch squad isn't what it used to be. Still Van Gaal didn't succeed in his 2002 campaign with a better squad ... this time round you can already book your tickets.

      However the Dutch FA's objective of reaching the semifinals or better seems a bit optimistic (I don't own a pair of orangetinted glasses). I'll keep following up but for now I've put them down as a possible quarterfinalist (so I still feel they should be seeded).

      Also why leave out Higuain ... he netted many of Argentinas goals in this campaign. He and Tevez should get plenty of time on the pitch this season too ... in any case Argentina won't lose firepower up front if confronted with injuries. The back four however is more tricky: Campagnaro is still going strong despite his age, another evergreen like Zanetti might return to form this season and then there are the likes of Demichelis, Garay and Zabaleta (Mascherano also is an option although Barcelonas defense was shaky last season also when he filled in). The Brazilian defense on the other hand is fearsome ... I'm expecting that Scolari will focus more on them rather than putting on a show.

    8. Yes, anon is right Ed: how can you forget Higuain! He is far more important than Lavezzi. For instance, Messi scored 10 goals this qualifying campaign and he is at the top with Luis Suarez (another beast btw). But Higuain scored 9, only one goal less and not as many minutes on the field as Messi. Tevez has no chances of going to the next WC actually. Despite his strong play lately, the coach will not consider him.

      As for our defense, as anon mentions, there are Campagnaro, Garay and Zabaleta (sometimes acting as captain at Manchester City) that could be considered middle-to-high class defenders. Maybe Coloccini as well (he was in the top 11 premier league squad last season). The rest of our defense is very weak.

      And yes, that 98 Netherlands team was very strong. I was just seeing the line-up against Argentina and Seedorf was left in the bench!

  10. Personally I think that if Colombia - a team that has made it past the first round only once and has won only three WC games in all - is seeded, then seeding becomes meaningless.

    1. Would you make the same claim against Belgium if they're in the top 8 for the seeding? Personally, I think teams should be rewarded by the methodology for doing well in qualifying over the past two years instead of making exceptions for overrated teams that never make it past the first knockout stage (i.e. England)

  11. I don't think Belgium should be seeded either, but Belgium has played in the World Cup eleven times and has reached the semifinals, a much better record than Colombia's.

    As far as your comment about "overrated teams that never make it past the first knockout stage (i.e. England)", this comment applies to Colombia - a team that has made it past the first round only 25% of the times in its meager four participation in the World Cup. It does not apply to England, a team that has failed to make it out of the group stage only twice (both in the 1950's) and has made it beyond that stage eleven times.

    How teams do in the qualifications should have nothing to do with seeding in the World Cup since qualifying in Europe is a lot harder than qualifying from other areas. How many other continents have a group with two recent World Champions (1998 and 2010) with only one making it automatically?

    1. South America is one of the toughest regions to qualify especially when Brazil is around because usually those two teams take 2 spots from the qualifications. Europe may have more worthy teams due to more countries but Europe tends to bring unworthy teams such as the San Marino or Moldova being placed in your group.

    2. "South America is one of the toughest regions to qualify..." This is a myth not supported by any evidence. In fact numbers show that South America is made up by two great teams (Brazil and Argentina), a team that occasionally does well at the World Cup (Uruguay), and a series of hopeless teams that regularly fail at World Cup level.

      Since the expansion of the World Cup in 1982, the "rest of South America" has done very well on paper ("this year Colombia is going to win!", "this year is Paraguay's year!"), but very poorly on grass when it was time to meet their European counterparts.

      This is what the "rest of South America" has done at the last eight world cups:
      Bolivia - out in the first round in 94
      Chile - out in the first round in 82 and 10, out in the second round in 98
      Colombia - out in the second round in 90, out in the first round in 94 and 98
      Ecuador - out in the first round in 02 and 06
      Paraguay - out in the second round in 86, 98, and 02, out in the first round in 06, out in the quarterfinals in 10
      Peru - out in the first round in 82
      Uruguay - out in the second round in 86 and 90, out in the first round in 02, fourth place in 10
      Venezuela - has yet to qualify for the World Cup

      In other words, the "rest of South America" has only a fourth place and a quarterfinal to show for out of 19 participation.

      During the same eight world cups, Europe managed to bring to at least a quarterfinal level twenty-one different teams: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Rep. of Ireland, Romania, Russia, Serbia (Yugoslavia), Spain, Sweden, Turkey, and Ukraine. It should be noted that four of these teams were included in the same qualifying group for 2014 (Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, and Italy) and three will likely watch the WC on TV next year.

      UEFA doesn't have more teams. It has BETTER teams.

      An Italian journalist wrote in the 1970's that the World Cup is a European Championship with Argentina and Brazil. This is still the case forty years later.

    3. Have you realized the fallacy of your argument? If you are trying to argue that South America is NOT one of the toughest regions to qualify, then why are you giving facts about the World Cup? One thing is Qualification, the other is performance at the World Cup.

    4. It's hard to qualify in South America because, beside Argentina and Brazil, all the other teams are weaklings, all at the same level, and without any real hope at the World Cup - as PROVEN by the continuous failures by the "rest of South America" at the Word Cup. If South America were given the spots they deserve (two, maybe three), qualifying would not be so difficult as the great majority of South American teams would be eliminated after a handful of games.

      "Toughest region" doesn't mean that 70-80% of the teams are mediocrity personified (otherwise the "toughest region" would be Oceania). "Toughest region" means that there are less spots available than there are deserving teams.

      "One thing is Qualification, the other is performance at the World Cup." - I completely agree with you there. When listening to South American commentators, the Colombia's, the Peru's, the Chile's sound so formidable when CONMEBOL qualification is taking place, then they come to the World Cup and is lights out ... bye, bye ... see you in four years ...

    5. Mr A. G. you forget last WC: four South American teams in the quaterfinals! Actually, Paraguay should have won against Spain, but Spain was spared. And I'm not very sure about the dutch victory over Brazil either. First half was a football lesson by Brazil. Then with very bad luck and silly mistakes, they lost.

      Qualifying in South America is very tough because of the away conditions. Argentina play away versus Italy, and win 2-1. They play away vs Bolivia and they lose 6-1. I'd like to see a European team playing in altitude. Bolivia beat Brazil in the altitude several times. Ecuador and Peru, also playing in altitude. I would have loved that friendly between Ecuador and Spain to be played in Quito! The spaniards chickened out and asked to played in Guayaquil at sea level. You wanna really beat Ecuador, do it in Quito, not at sea level.

      Then, as you say, many SA don' go very far during the WC. But they do reach round of 16 easily, equalizing teams like Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine.

    6. I didn't forget anything. I wrote about it in my first post. And with "should" and "could" and "if" and "but" one can prove that San Marino is the greatest team in the world. In fact that's how a Colombian friend of mine keeps telling me that Colombia was the greatest team on the planet in the 1990's.

    7. Mr. A.G., I believe you might be joking :)
      Even the worst team in South America is better than half of the European teams.

      The reason why medium level European Teams have good results in the WC is because there are so mayn European teams, that they kill each other and some get good positions.

    8. Ok, Mr. A.G., no 'should', no 'could', just facts. Let's consider the current WC qualifying format. 32 teams where each confederation holds the following places:

      UEFA: 13
      CONMEBOL: 4.5
      CAF: 5
      AFC: 4.5
      CONCACAF: 3.5
      OFC: 0.5
      Organizer: 1

      You say South American qualification is overrated and deserves at the most 3 spots at the WC. Let's take a look at how many teams each confederation manages to place in round of 16 since WC has 32 teams. (Why round of 16 and not other round? Well, I reckon the real competition starts there, but the same analysis could be done for quarter-finals or semifinals I guess). Teams in round of 16:

      UEFA: 6
      CONMEBOL: 5
      CONCACAF: 2
      CAF: 1
      AFC: 2
      OFC: 0

      UEFA: 11
      CONMEBOL: 3
      CONCACAF: 1
      CAF: 0
      AFC: 0
      OFC: 1

      UEFA: 9
      CONMEBOL: 2
      CONCACAF: 2
      CAF: 1
      AFC: 2
      OFC: 0

      UEFA: 10
      CONMEBOL: 4
      CONCACAF: 1
      CAF: 1
      AFC: 0
      OFC: 0

      UEFA: 9
      CONMEBOL: 3.5
      CONCACAF: 1.5
      CAF: 0.75
      AFC: 1
      OFC: 0.25

      You say South America should have 3 AT THE MOST, when AT LEAST 3 teams in average reach the second round. If you multiply this by 2, you could have more realistic distribution of WC spots:

      UEFA: 18
      CONMEBOL: 7
      CONCACAF: 3
      CAF: 1.5
      AFC: 2
      OFC: 0.5

      This could be interpreted as: UEFA has 18 potentially competitive teams, but only 13 places for the WC: qualification is tough. South America has 7 potentially competitive teams, but only 4.5 places for the WC: qualification is tough. CONCACAF and OFC seem to be getting what they deserve. While the really overrated confederations are CAF and AFC, with so many spots when they hardly reach the round of 16. It's not South-America that should have less spots, it's Africa and Asia. Now, allow me to do some modifications so that this looks like a performance based WC seeds distribution:

      UEFA: 17
      CONMEBOL: 6
      CONCACAF: 3
      CAF: 2
      AFC: 2.5
      OFC: 0.5
      Organizer: 1

      This would be a fair distribution if we only consider performance. Myself, I prefer the current distribution set by FIFA(with no consideration to performance) because it favors the development of football in other parts of the world (namely Asia and Africa).

    9. Another way to disprove A G’s hypothesis by 'reductio ad absurdum' that the “rest of South America” are “weaklings” and deserve only 2, at most 3 teams.

      To do so, let’s EXCLUDE from the analysis the European Big Six (All its champions plus NED) as well as ARG/BRA, and compare the performance of the “rest of Europe” v. “rest of South America”. I looked only at the results from 1998 (when the World Cup expanded to 32 teams):

      Comparison #1: Qualification to Round 2
      2010: EU: only 2 out of 7. SA: 4 out of 4.
      2006: EU: 4 out of 8. SA: 1 out of 2
      2002: EU: 5 out of 10. SA: 2 out of 3
      1998: EU: 5 out of 9. SA: 2 out of 3
      Conclusion: EU: 16 out of 34 teams = 46%. SA 9 out of 12 teams = 75%

      Comparison #2: Matches between “rest of Europe” v. “rest of South America” (curiously, all matches were at the group stage)
      2010: 2 SA wins (CHI over SUI, PAR over SVK)
      2006: 1 SA win (ECU over POL), 1 EU win (SWE over PAR)
      2002: 2 SA wins (PAR over SVN, ECU over CRO), 1 EU win (DEN over URU)
      1998: 2 ties (PAR-BUL, CHI-AUT), 1 EU win (ROU over COL)
      Conclusion: 5 SA wins, 2 ties, 3 EU wins.

      Following A G’s argument, then “if Europe were given the spots they deserve (6, maybe 7 teams), qualifying would not be so difficult as the great majority of European teams would be eliminated after a handful of games.” This conclusion is just plain absurd, hence disproving your hypothesis. Quod erat demonstrandum.

      In another discussion some were suggesting to have Qualifications at the World level (say for example, a qualification group with 2 teams from Europe, 1 from Conmebol, 1 Concacaf, 1 African, 1 Asian, with the best two qualifying for World Cup). I had thought about that some time ago, and I am all for it, so that the really best 30-31 teams of the world qualify (assuming 1-2 hosts). But I know it may not be feasible for some time (transportation issues). Or perhaps something in the lines of Euro 2020. Bring it on!

    10. You already have set the "rest of Europe" up to fail in your premisse.

      Why eliminate the best teams that belong in the "rest of Europe" category? Seeing that you exclude Brazil & Argentina and call all other countries the "rest of South America", isn't it better to look for their counterparts in Europe? Something is off when a team that has never won a single WC doesn't belong to the "rest of Europe". In fact the definition of the "rest of Europe" is a dynamic one ... when you're opting for all WCs since 1998 I'd also go for countries that belonged to the "rest of Europe" in that timeframe (it's also an arbitrary date though). Also European teams often cancel each other out while South American teams can avoid each other more easily + why only opt for (de facto) group matches + ...

      Very hard to make a fair comparison when you set it up this way. Maybe it's easier to rank them as if they were 1 zone? Let's say since the WC was first organised every team gets 3pts when they win a game and 1 when they draw.

      1. Brazil
      2. Germany
      3. Italy
      4. Argentina
      5. England
      6. Spain
      7. France
      8. Holland
      9. Uruguay
      10. Sweden
      11. Russia
      12. Yugo
      13. Poland
      14. Hungary
      15. Austria
      16. Portugal
      17. Belgium
      18. Czechoslovakia

      So within our combined total of 18 births (13 European + the round number of 5 for S.America), we can only spot 3 South American countries. You could even say that all teams ranked lower than Argentina are the "rest of South America & Europe" and in this case only Uruguay can show off its legacy.

      When you go for the top 30-31 ranks: 22-23 of those are European while 5 are South American countries. However this is also a distorted view but clearly there are lots of European countries that can compete at the final stage. Every 4 years there are victims in the qualifiers that would have made the cut in global qualifiers.

      So I'm also in favour of organising a global qualifier with FIFA paying for travel expenses. Just need to cut down on the amount of qualifiers ... let's say the best 16 or 32 NTs worldwide are first tier ... those that get past the group stage remain in first tier and those that didn't = play-offs with the best 16 second tier NTs to decide who gets relegated, same for 3th/4th tier play-offs, etc. Lots of advantages = several tournaments in which teams of similar quality can compete/develop, no need to qualify so you can organise it every year, FIFA ranking is obsolete, etc. One big drawback = why come up with this childish rant ... let's just enjoy some footy in Brazil and may the best team win.

      PS maybe FIFA should add a rule that if you can't offer fair conditions for your homegames, FIFA will provide/appoint a stadion (because playing away against Nepal could get tricky).

    11. My reply to Anonymous (September 18, 2013 at 11:28 AM)

      (1) "Why eliminate the best teams that belong in the "rest of Europe" category?...... Something is off when a team that has never won a single WC doesn't belong to the "rest of Europe."

      My point was to disprove that A.G.'s comments about 'rest of SA' by looking the other way around at the 'rest of Europe'. Also, if you look at the list you construct, you can see that the first 8 teams are exactly the ones that I exclude from the analysis.

      (2) “when you're opting for all WCs since 1998 I'd also go for countries that belonged to the "rest of Europe" in that timeframe (it's also an arbitrary date though).”

      1998 is arbitrary, but I believe is the best one to do the analysis because (i) At that WC we started having 32 teams, and (ii) since then we have had 14 (+/-1) EU teams and 5(+/-1) SA teams. Any other year will create more bias.

      (3) “Also European teams often cancel each other out while South American teams can avoid each other more easily”

      Your comment is valid for Comparison #1, but not for #2

      (4) “why only opt for (de facto) group matches”

      I was trying to do ALL matches (1st +2nd round) but it turns out that when we exclude the Big 8 teams (ARG/BRA/FRA/GER/ENG/ITA/ESP/NED) from the analysis, there are no matches between EU and SA teams.

      (5) “Maybe it's easier to rank them as if they were 1 zone?”

      I believe you constructed your list using all WC matches (from 1930)? Perhaps it would be better to do it from 1998 (see point (2) above). I’ll do it tomorrow and post it on Friday.

      (6) “why come up with this childish rant”

      I have tried to be as objective as possible, so I do not see that I am ranting or being childish (I am sorry, but I don’t see it). But under the same logic it could be argued that, since you are replying to a “childish rant”, wouldn’t your reply be also “childish”? I also think it is not. In fact, we agree more than disagree.

      (7) I leave my comments on the global qualifier for another post. At some point I was even thinking of something like Euro 2020, with a World Cup with 64 teams…

    12. Let's start with number (6): what I meant was that this pissing contest between 2 confederations is a bit silly and that not yours but my own reply was the childish one. I.e. dreaming of the day that we all get along in one global qualifier and already drawing a little outline of a multi-tiered trny. Please rate how childish the next bit is.

      => imagine a tiered cake ... on top is the Premier Tier/World Cup that contains for example the 16 best NTs worldwide ... 2nd tier = the next 32 NTs, 3th = 64 NTs and finally all the other NTs, about 100 of them ... instead of a FIFA ranking or qualifiers those trnys are held every year and NTs can either get promoted or relegated to another tier via playoffs.

      Start with 3 global trnys every summer that always have several groups of 4 NTs (tier 1 has 4 groups, tier 2 has 8 groups and tier 3 has 16 groups) ... and several trnys for all the other NTs (minnows):

      - all the other NTs (not in 1 of the tiers) organise a bunch of minnow trnys to narrow down their 32 best NTs, those will compete in the play-offs (home & away matches) against 32 NTs that are in danger of relegation (didn't make it past their group stage of that tier 3 trny with 64 NTs) = 32 are relegated/32 are promoted to that tier 3 trny next year and are spread over 2 pots (pot 3 contains those that finished 3th in tier 3 groups or their play-off opponent & similarly for pot 4).
      - the 16 NTs that were eliminated in round 2 of that tier 3 trny go to pot 2 for next years draw, the 16 best (reached quarterfinals) take on the bottom 16 of tier 2 (didn't make it past their group stage) = 16 are relegated but get seeded in tier 3/16 are promoted to that tier 2 trny next year (same procedure for pot 3 & 4 as before).
      - the 8 NTs that were eliminated in round 2 of that tier 2 trny go to pot 2 and the best 8 of tier 2 (reached quarterfinals) take on the bottom 8 from the Premier Tier = 8 are relegated/8 are promoted to the Premier Tier next year (same procedure for pot 3 & 4 as before).
      - finally those that reached the quarterfinals in the Premier Tier/World Cup are safe = best 4 are next years seeds (pot 1 contains those that reached the semifinals) and the other 4 are put in pot 2 for next years draw of 4 groups of 4 NTs).

    13. Here's an example to clarify the triple tiered set up of trnys: By divine intervention Vatican City has been blessed with a generation of priests that can easily beat Messi, Ronaldo, Cavani, Hazard, Bale, etc. in a few years. How long will it take before they can lift the World Cup? First that new Vatican NT enters a minnows trny in the summer of 2014 (e.g. all of Europe's mini-states). Of course they win that minnows cup and proceed to the minnow play-offs where they meet 1 of the other 31 best minnows around (e.g. they draw Aruba). They face off and win both home & away matches which means they've earned another round of play-offs against a NT that finished 4th/last in their tier 3 trny-group that summmer. It's Vatican city vs Qatar. Eventhough Qatar had put together a decent squad and made huge investments, they get obliterated. Now Vatican NT receives a pot 4 berth in next years Tier 3 trny. Summer 2015, Vatican City is that Tier 3 trny's revelation, lifting their second cup so far. To promote to Tier 2 they'll go to the play-offs after the summer in which they need to beat the Peruvian NT (4th place in their Tier 2 group). Vatican city wins and the pope consoles the Peruvian NT. So they've earned a new berth and will be in pot 4 of the 2016 Tier 2 draw. Summer of 2016 approaches and the Vatican squad is in the worst shape that they ever have been in. Still they're able to reach the quarterfinals of Tier 2 and proceed to the play-offs in which they face the USA (USMT finished 3th in their Premier Tier group). All previously injured players have returned to form and the stellar Vatican team wins those play-offs eventhough the USMT didn't make it easy on them. Finally they can go to the Premier Tier/World Cup 2017. Because Vatican NT players had matured going through several levels of competition they're now ready to take on football superpowers. During the draw they end up in group A together with Brazil (pot 1), Italy (pot2) and Holland (pot 4). Somehow they manage to take 2nd place behind Brazil and proceed to the quarterfinals where they meet Argentina. During half time Vatican city is 3 goals behind, but pope Francis washes the feet of the players and they get a jolt of energy. In the second half Vatican NT rips apart the defense and the final score is Vatican city 6 - Argentina 4. The semifinals are a walkover ... Colombia is defeated but can be proud to have made it that far. Now in the Premier Tier final, the year of our Lord 2017, Vatican city and Brazil will decide who will take home the World Cup ... 17' Luke XI scores 1-0, 44' Neymar makes it 1-1, 49' Thiago heads 1 in the net 1-2, 52' Matthew XXII easy tap in 2-2, 55' Matthew XXII again 3-2, 77' John VII is badly injured and John XIX replaces him, 77' John XIX's first touch and he scores 4-2, 79' John XIX magical volley 5-2, 80' D.Luiz is sent off after his second yellow card 84' Oscar assist is fired into the net by Fred 5-3, 88' Neymars free kick is on target 5-4, 90'+4' Paulinho manages to squeeze the equalizer past 3 Vatican defenders ... in extra time both teams are unable to score ... penalties will decide ... Vatican city loses ... Brazil collects another trophy. Vatican city players started to show promise in the minnow trnys around 2014 and during the World Cup 2017 they already could have been World Champions. No messing about with a FIFA ranking, a transparant procedure in all stages of the World Cup, truly a WORLD Cup, etc.

    14. Before reading this ... please make sure you completely understand what I was trying to make clear in the previous 2 comments. Otherwise the next bit won't make any sense at all. So maybe best to stop here and read those comments again (really pay attention because some of it was utter nonsense and there are a few gems hidden in those comments).

      Your comment was just fine and by now I should have proven how childish mine was :) OK when you've read everything, I can tell you the joke was to waste your time on a silly idea like World qualifiers. FIFA won't change their minds overnight. It's more likely that we'll still have confederations in 2100. In about 9 months Brazil kicks off and there will be plenty of decent teams around (from all around the world) ... it's up to the players to prove that they can be called World Champions ... I just hope we can enjoy a string of attractive matches.

    15. About (1) "My point was to disprove that A.G.'s comments about 'rest of SA' ..."

      I agree that A.G. overstated his case. It's quite common that people exaggerate to win an argument. However I disagree with your definition of the "rest of Europe". Take another look at that list ranking the top 18 South American & European countries. You could say that all teams ranked lower than Argentina are the "rest of South America & Europe" and in this case only Germany and Italy are the European counterparts of Brazil & Argentina ... all other countries are the "rest of Europe" (= includes France, Spain, England, Netherlands, etc.). Still it doesn't matter which definition you use it will be hard to prove anything. In the end our efforts are futile ... you do know we are trying to correct something that was said on the "internetz" and it looked a lot like a troll move. In Europe we do admire South American players. Why else would there be so many over here. As far as teams are concerned, I "fear" Brazil the most ... not for there attacking prowess alone ... mainly because I feel Scolari might focus on a very tough defense with hard tackling. Everytime that Brazil has won the WC their defense has been the most important aspect ... yet we only remember those "samba moments" because those are imprinted on highlight whreels.

    16. (2) "1998 is arbitrary, but I believe is the best one to do the analysis because ..."

      Ok I had lunch so let's delve in again ... doesn't matter which timeframe you use ... the data is too difficult to clean. There are too many variables that can corrupt a fair comparison while your samplesize of 4 World Cups isn't really a large 1. E.g. I used to play poker ... have a guess how many hands would be enough for a reliable sample (1 hand could be the same as 1 WC match ... in the year 10.000 you wouldn't have seen enough WC matches).

      => Maybe ask Ed to run 10.000 sims of South American & European teams put together in the same qualifying zone. At least you'll have some predictions but still what would we stand to gain ... more info and more to bicker about? The only way we'll know for sure is when both confederations merge.

      Actually I had put an emphasis on how dynamic the rest of Europe can be, e.g. Spain, France, England, Holland, etc. have alternated a lot between being real contenders and being the "rest of Europe". This also has to do with how do you define 'the rest of Europe". You could choose your cut off point at 15 participations (= Argentina) as those are the more consistent performers. This means that Germany & Italy are the only 2 that don't belong in the "rest of Europe".

      Also let's have a look at legacy (from 1998 onwards). The only thing that really counts = lifting the World Cup:

      - European teams = 3x (75%)
      - South American teams = 1x (25%)

      ... let's expand and include 2nd place:

      - European teams = 3x (75%)
      - South American teams = 1x (25%)

      ... and 3th place:

      - European teams = 4x (100%)
      - South American teams = 0 (0%)

      ... and 4th place:

      - European teams = 2x (50%)
      - South American teams = 1x (25%)
      *S.Korea had some very dubious matches = eliminated Italy and Spain only due to a string of bad calls. Either the referees in Japan/S.Korea2002 were of very poor quality + S.Korea were the sole recipients of that "luck" or some people were making a lot of money betting on S.Korea (bribery does exist in football).

      Portugal, Turkey and Croatia reached the semifinals from 1998 onwards ... also Spain (1x), Holland (2x) and France (2x) reached the semifinals or better in that timeframe. Weirdly Argentina has been eliminated before the semifinals in every WC from 1998 onwards while Uruguay played 1 semifinal.

      That said, I still feel that the only trophy that's up for grabs is the World Cup ... winner takes all.

    17. (3) "Your comment is valid for Comparison #1, but not for #2"

      ... also valid for #2 as there were no (de facto) encounters after the group stage. Still the problem remains: who do you call "rest of Europe".

    18. *groups can have more than 1 European team. Didn't check if that was the case in your #2 comparison.

    19. (5) "I believe you constructed your list using all WC matches (from 1930)?"

      ... that's correct. I'll have a look at your 1998 - present list on Friday.

    20. (6) + (7) => my reply starts at (6). It's also about a world qualifier. Please make sure you completely understand what I was trying to make clear in those 2 comments. You'll have to go through it from top to bottom or it doesn't make any sense.

      (4) overarching definition problem remains: even about the top 4 you can have longwinded discussions = Brazil, Germany, Italy and Argentina; e.g. isn't Argentina part of the rest of South America (Uruguay has reached semifinals or better 1 more time compared to Argentina and Uruguay did one of those runs recently while Argentina hasn't reached semifinals in 24 years when Brazil2014 ends), how would they have fared when qualifying in Europe (ceteris paribus; excluding unfair conditions), etc.

      What WC legacy really shows is how strong European & South American teams are. In the end it's about who's crowned World Champion (amount of 2nd places, etc. can be used as tiebreakers) ... a bit of ribbing is always fun ... wouldn't take the comparison between 2 confederations too far ... I'd just respect each other as we're the 2 confederations that have the highest quality of NTs = without a shadow of a doubt.

    21. Chile were out in the second round in 2010, not in the first. They lost to another CONMEBOL team.

      In fact, CONMEBOL teams performed better than UEFA teams (on average) in the last 3 WC and FIFA were forced to change the confederation weighting calculation just to make sure UEFA don't have a lower value than CONMEBOL. See here.

    22. @Juan

      It's not South-America that should have less spots, it's Africa and Asia.

      Your analysis agrees with Paul Marcuccitti's system.

    23. @Anonymous

      So I'm also in favour of organising a global qualifier with FIFA paying for travel expenses.

      The World Cup would have a huge carbon footprint.

    24. Edgar, what's that system? I don't seem to find it in the link you provided.

    25. @Juan

      I've linked to this post by mistake :)

      Here's the correct link.

    26. Thanks Edgar. Yes, I can see that his idea has the same spirit as mine, although mine was not as formal as his, just something simple to prove my point that South America is not a weak confederation. Also, as per your messages, it has performed better than all confederations in the past 3 WCs!

      I like the idea of the intercontinental play-offs including Europe as well.

    27. @Ed: how many matches are there in all qualifiers + play-offs now (every confederation)? Usually there are plenty of breaks in between the qualification matches and players go back and forth from their clubs & NT. Even if players always stayed at their NT the current WC qualification would have a huge footprint. Compare this to going to a Cup and playing all matches there.

      When you eliminate the need for qualifiers (except for relegation matches) and all NTs gather at a tournament that's suited to their level you can drastically lower that footprint. I had given an example at (6) ... a variation of that set up: you can have a Premier Tier World Cup (best 16 NTs), 2x 2nd Tier cups (e.g. in each cup the next 32 best NTs that didn't reach the Premier Tier yet compete => 2x top 4 to play-offs vs the bottom 8 of Premier Tier = 8 play-offs) and either a 3th Tier Cup and/or multiple regional trnys for NTs that are looking to promote to 2nd Tier). Also organising several minnows trny's seem better suited to those NTs. All Cups are held in summer with relegation play-offs before the next Cup starts ... you can still alternate between own confederation cup and World Cup ... only now you don't need 2 years to qualify as the result achieved at the Cup (+ play-offs) decide whether your NT is relegated/promoted/stays put.

      Seems better to organise multi-tiered Cups, all in summer, in different countries (cups in a lower tier don't need those expensive stadions too).

  12. I think the most maddening part is the fact that FIFA is waiting until 12/3/13 to announce the seedings. The seeding procedure should have been announced when they did the draw on 7/31/11.

    Belgium should be seeded because the hole point is to have the host plus 7 best teams seeded and right now Belgium is one of the top 7 teams in the world.

    The FIFA ranking formula has it flaws but it does build in past performance and Belgium's wasn't great but since they turned it around they've had some good wins.

    They also are tied with Germany and Holland with the best record in qualifying and they didn't get a Lichtenstein, Luxembourg, Faroe Islands, Moldova, Andorra, or San Marino in the group.

    It's pretty obvious that FIFA is going to use a formula that gets the teams they want in there rather than the 7 best teams and Brazil.

    In the end I guess it doesn't matter because you've got to beat who is put in front of you. If Belgium wins it's last two games and it doesn't get a seed then I pity the seeded team that draws them at the WC.

    Why not have a Spain, Belgium, Uruguay, USA group...

  13. I think, that FIFA will seed the teams on the scores of recent past. My tips on the first pot: Spain, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal(if they won't qualify, then England or France), Uruguay, Argentina and Brazil. It will geographic arrangement in the other three spots.
    Second pot: rest 8 European teams
    Third pot: 5 African + rest 3 South-American teams
    Fourth pot: 4 Asian + 4 CONCACAF(or 3 CONCACAF + New Zealand) teams.

  14. I think it's rather arrogant to claim a world cup seed based on just a good qualification run, and not qualifying for the last oh...5 fifa and uefa world cups. That in itself is a feat to be utterly embarrassed about and perhaps... knowing your place and hoping for the best is probably more befitting of the situation. SO you woke up with a good new generation of players? Nice. Prove it on a tournament.

    So you think FIFA will sidestep the vice world champions and the Copa America winners/WC Semi-finalists as well as a consistent World cup contender/Euro-cup semi finalist... just because Belgium won a few matches against Serbia and Scotland in qualification and a couple of friendlies for once?

    For me personally I give Colombia a small chance, Belgium a really small chance, and Switzerland an infinitely small chance of being seeded regardless of their ranking.

    1. BEL qualified in 94, 98 and 02 and SUI qualified in 94, 06 and 10, so stop making up facts.
      Also at least Belgium wins against the tiny football nations in their group (Estonia - Netherlands, Paraguay - Uruguay, both ended in a draw)
      Also thinking you will get a seed because you played well 3-4 years ago is more arrogant than thinking you'll get a seed for playing well this year.
      If the Netherlands are still the same team I was supporting in 2010, they wouldn't bother thinking if they'd be seeded. No, they'd just play and end up being seeded, because they played so well.

    2. Oh please, you know what I meant, quit obfuscating your complete absense on the world stage for the last 10 years. Obviously referring to the last 5 consecutive UEFA and FIFA euro/world cups combined. And I was referring to Belgium as I didn't read a Swiss poster making a claim they should be seeded two posts above mine.

      So you're saying it's entirely logical for FIFA to exclude a country (#3 on FIFA ranking dec 2005) from a seed in 2006, because they missed out on 1 world cup and did fairly well in the other (semi 1998), and now include a country (possibly #6-7 on fifa ranking) who DNQ for anything for 10 years. For being ahead by a narrow margin in a ratingsystem that's even more volatile than it was before? At the expense of the country that got toppled out the first time for exactly opposing reasons?
      Don't you see the discrepancy there perhaps? Or are you so concerned about "justice" that it only need be applied to (presumably) your own team?

      I personally don't care about seeds much. I think if you go to a world cup, you need to be ready to beat anyone. Being seeded barely guarantees anything either as there are plenty of decent other teams out there (but it does give a team a bigger chance of avoiding the groups of death, doesn't it?)

      I think it's foolish to assume your country will never run into a bump in qualifications, especially when you're already 99,9% qualified. It's not like Belgium won all their matches overwhelmingly, I recall a match against Montenegro and a match against Serbia e.g. as well as a friendly against Romania. I personally liked the way we played against Estonia. It was a fun match to watch. And the Estonians scored two pretty damn nice goals i must add. It happens. Is that reason enough to disregard the rest of the cericulum? And even if you disregard us, due to say, lack of performance in EC2012 and somewhat lacking quality right now, there are still 2-3 other teams i could mention who have more of a claim to make to becoming a group seed than Belgium.
      Uruguay, Portugal, Ghana perhaps?

      "Also thinking you will get a seed because you played well 3-4 years ago is more arrogant than thinking you'll get a seed for playing well this year." <--- I don't mean to belittle your logic but this has been the way the seeds were determined for like 20-30 years, by looking at past tourneys. They never looked at the last year because teams have an internal cycle of 8-12 years and play only 8-9 matches a year on average. That's what i mean with volatile.

    3. > So you're saying it's entirely logical for FIFA to exclude a country (#3 on FIFA ranking dec 2005) from a seed in 2006, because they missed out on 1 world cup and did fairly well in the other (semi 1998), and now include a country (possibly #6-7 on fifa ranking) who DNQ for anything for 10 years.

      i don't think Anonymous mentioned anything about the seeding in 2006. But in fact, i don't see what value Kluivert, De Boer or Bergkamp can have about today's quality of the national team. Even 2006 and 2008 is quite worthless, certainly when talking about Belgium's national football team (youngsters). In 2006, Current team who played Scotland was 18 years old...

      Which good reasons can you have to support the seeded status of Belgium?
      - Belgium's national team value according to is 344 million. Only five teams have a larger value.
      - Belgium's last competitive defeats is vs Germany (2011). You need to go back to 2010 to see a competitive defeat to a "mediocre" team (Turkey).
      - Belgium's players play in top teams from top leagues. The normal starting 11 plays in Atletico Madrid (2), Manchester City, Tottenham (2), Zenit St. Petersburg (2), Manchester United, Chelsea (2) and Everton. Substitutes come from Bayern Munchen, Liverpool, Porto, Napoli, Arsenal, ... Belgium currently has 8 players in the top 6 from England, 2 in the nr1 from Spain, one in the last CL-winner, 1 in the nr 1 from Italy, 1 in the nr1 from Portugal, ...
      - Belgium was the third best scoring nation in the Premier League after England and Spain: 69 goals
      - the average age is 25,1 years old, no other major national team performs better.

    4. Hi Jeroen

      Some months ago you upload an excel file with the FIFA ranking ( Could you please send me a link to download your updated excel file?

      Many thanks

    5. Two files, the file for the regular ranking and the file to determine who's top 7+Brazil:

    6. Many thanks Jerone. Just one comment, Brazil will play a friendly match on 15-Oct against Zambia.

    7. @Sidewinder

      So you're saying it's entirely logical for FIFA to exclude a country (#3 on FIFA ranking dec 2005) from a seed in 2006, because they missed out on 1 world cup and did fairly well in the other (semi 1998), and now include a country (possibly #6-7 on fifa ranking) who DNQ for anything for 10 years.

      Was it logical not to seed France (2006 losing finalists) in 2010 because they had a poor run in the qualifiers? Mind you, it was the first time when the losing finalists where not seeded.

  15. When there are no "upsets" ... the 8 seeded teams should all finish on top in their groups and reach the quarterfinals ... as those teams are supposedly the best around. This would be the "ideal" scenario but luckily there are always teams that more or less become the revelation of that tournament.

    As far as my evaluation is valid ... Belgium is one of those top 8 teams (I've ranked them 5th ... ahead of Italy and Holland by a very small margin ... and Colombia or England for the final seed).

    It would be unfair if Belgium isn't seeded but I reckon that the allure of prime media markets holds sway. To say the least, Belgium isn't dead in the water as they're backed by an unprecedented groundswell of support and their marquee names have a decent amount of pull in lucrative markets (e.g. Hazard can pull USA audiences). Colombia has the advantage of showing games in prime time but England is one of the major media markets in the world and also has the most pull in the other desired media markets (USA audiences can also view the matches during prime time).

    PS: Belgium has momentum on their side ... throughout the Brazil 2014 qualifiers Belgium can show very decent results going up against the likes of Croatia, Serbia, ... even Wales has a player worth 100M euros. I have to admit that it hasn't been a tour de force ... but if "showmanship" has an impact, we should also have a look at Sweden (e.g. their "recent" matches against England and Germany spring to mind).

    In the 2 previous World Cup campaigns the Belgian team/association was at fault (going through a major reorganisation while very young talent was slowly finding their way into the squad) ... still the stiff competition in the qualifiers is partly to blame:

    - S.Africa 2010 = Belgium didn't qualify in a group that included: Spain, Bosnia & H., Turkey, etc. (the Turks just had peaked/reached semifinals of Euro'08)

    - Germany 2006 Belgium didn't qualify in a group that included: Spain, Serbia & Montenegro, Bosnia & H., etc. ... even Spain finished in 2nd place.

    It happens too often that very decent teams do not progress beyond the European qualifiers. The Dutch had one of the best teams in 2002 and would have been a real contender (please go gor a little google). The legendary squad, that included Cruyff, should have even stayed home in 1974 (when the referee made a decisive error). Much has been written on World Cup qualifying procedures already ... so I'll end this text here.

  16. Flaw in FIFA Ranking Method!!???

    Particularly, the error is in the way that add the points earned in each of the matches. Particularly, the error is in the way that add the points earned in each of the matches. Take for example a team that played in the last four years, 15 games every year, as shown in the following table:

    Year % Matches Factor 1
    2010 20% 15 1,3%
    2011 30% 15 2,0%
    2012 50% 15 3,3%
    2013 100% 15 6,7%

    In the last column you can see the factor 1, which is easily calculated simply by dividing the percentage by the matches played (20% / 15 games = 1.33% / match). This means that each of the matches played in 2010 contributes 1.33% to the current ranking. This factor 1 is 2%, 3,3% and 6,7% for the following years. This is fair because that gives more weight to more recent matches. Remember this.

    Now let's see what happens in the event that a team is 5, 10, 15 and 30 matches in the last four years (an average of 15 matches per year, as in the previous case).

    Year % Matches Factor 1 Factor 2
    2010 20% 5 4,0% 1,3%
    2011 30% 10 3,0% 2,0%
    2012 50% 15 3,3% 3,3%
    2013 100% 30 3,3% 6,7%

    The values of factor 1 (% / Matches) ​​are 4%, 3%, 3.3% and 3.3% for the years 2010-2013. As you can see, the maximum value corresponds to the year 2010. This means that the few games played (5) in the fourth year contribute more (4%) than the 30 games played this year (3.3%). This seems illogical and unfair.

    Factor 2:
    One way I could think of to fix this (there may be others) is the factor 2. This factor 2 uses the average matches played per year for the last 4 years (15 in this case). As you can see the factor 2, is higher for more recent years. That is gives more weight to the most recent matches played (as in the first example). Factor 1 and 2 coincide when a team plays similar amounts of matches per year. But this does not always happen.


    I have calculated Argentina FIFA Ranking for September and I obtained 1179 points (87 less than the actual Ranking). Another Other examples of my outdated data (Jeroen excel) suggest that Burkina Faso would have 880 points, allowing it to be seeded for the draw for the CAF third round instead of Tunisia. Remember Burkina Faso came second in the last African Cup and won the last 4 games of qualifying, while Tunisia was eliminated in the first round (9th) and the WC qualifying obtained 2 W and 2D.
    Other cases interested (where factor 1 for 2010 is higher than for some of the following years) are Ecuador, Peru, Panama, Scotland and other teams that failed to qualified to the 2010WC.

    According to Jeroen data, this would be July-2013 recalculated. As you can see, Brazil would be 2° and Burkina Faso 23°.

    # Team Ranking Fifa Alternative Points Alternative Rank
    1 Spain 1532 1558 1
    2 Germany 1273 1230 4
    3 Colombia 1206 1223 5
    4 Argentina 1204 1174 7
    5 Netherlands 1180 1113 9
    6 Italy 1144 1241 3
    7 Portugal 1099 1098 10
    8 Croatia 1098 1118 8
    9 Brazil 1095 1282 2
    10 Belgium 1079 1174 6
    11 Greece 1038 960 17
    12 Uruguay 1016 1058 11
    13 Côte d'Ivoire 1012 996 12
    14 Bosnia-Herzegovina 995 949 18
    15 England 994 994 13
    16 Switzerland 987 943 19
    17 Russia 979 985 15
    18 Ecuador 932 973 16
    19 Peru 898 988 14
    20 Mexico 878 825 25
    21 Chile 872 856 21
    22 USA 865 825 26
    23 France 835 812 30
    24 Ghana 830 859 20
    25 Czech Republic 797 824 27
    26 Norway 794 836 24
    27 Denmark 788 751 34
    28 Mali 774 822 28
    29 Montenegro 774 774 32
    30 Ukraine 774 744 36
    42 Burkina Faso 657 844 23

    I leave two links with my calculations.

    Some (Edgar, Jeroen, Ed?) could recalculate the current ranking using this alternative methodology.


  18. It was very interesting to read the seed discussion, particulary about Belgium.

    I noticed there is a huge hype going on about the status of Belgium. Mainly because the Belgians themselves feed the hype of their football quality, now after many many years of absence.
    It is definately true that Belgium has exceeded the quality level of, lets say a Macedonia or a Finland.
    And they definately have some players at big clubs in important leagues.

    But please dont overexaggerate. Most, if not all of these players are not world class decisive players. They play along in their teams. Their teams will not totally collapse if that perticular Belgian player will be absent.
    The only player who comes near is Hazard at Chelsea. Yet he, and as all Belgian players, have zero experience at the highest level, in which I mean the later stages of the Champions League.

    Further more, Belgium has never proven otherwise yet as they havent won or even impressed against a top 10 country.
    There is this friendly win against the Netherlands from a year ago, the arch enemy for Belgium, in which the Netherlands fielded 5 debutants and who were more pre-occupied with the internal sleaze and dirt from the dissaponting previous European Championship.

    I think the Belgians will only dissapoint themselves thinking they are already near the same level of Spain or Germany. Because that is not the case.

    1. Nobody in Belgium thinks they are at the same level of Spain or Germany, we're not stupid. We're just an outsider, nothing more. A Belgian newspaper analysed the other ranked teams just in front/behind Belgium. Germany, Brazil, Argentina, Spain were analysed as being better, Italy and Netherlands as 'beatable'. I think a lot can agree with that.

      Belgium hasn't won/impressed (in a competitive game) vs a top 10 team, you're right, but they've only played Germany & Croatia in recent history, afaik. Hard to draw any conclusions out of those 2 games, except that Germany was better (which nobody opposes). The win vs Netherlands indeed hasn't got a great importance, even though Belgium did impress in that game.

      I don't agree with your "world class decisive players" however. I wouldn't even put Hazard as the top player. Even though they're not decisive in terms of goals scored (which is far more visible), players like Kompany and Courtois are definitely decisive players for their teams:

      Also, but on a lower level, Fellaini, Mignolet, Dembele, De Bruyne, Lukaku and Benteke were of great importance for their team last year. You can dispute their world-class status, but since a lot of them earned a transfer to a world-class top team, it's at least a statement i can make without acting like a fool.

      I don't take them as top 6, but yes, according to me we are top 8. Probably European top 4 for EC 2016 if we progress as can be expected, but that's too hard to predict right now.

    2. On the whole there's little to no "Schadenfreude" amongst Belgians when things aren't happening for "Oranje". On the contrary, we like you to succeed 'Ollandse School style (cfr. 1998 & a very exciting Euro 2000) instead of that Sam Allardyce style display during S.Africa 2010 (which was a lousy World Cup for most teams/only Germany had a string of attractive games). In 2002 it wasn't only Holland that lost out but it also was a loss for world football.

      Most Belgians support the Dutch side when our team isn't competing (in that case we like to enjoy some good footy and Holland used to be a safe bet over a decade ago). Granted there's a bit of rivalry when Belgium meets the Netherlands on the pitch (derby of the low countries) but the same goes when we play against France or Germany (BXL + Walloons care more about the BE-FR one and everyone wants to stick it to Sie Germans). Compared to a derby in the Balkans or a NL-DE match, we're actually your friendly neighbours. If we had to point to an arch nemesis ... France would be a more likely candidate (the one thing the Flemish & Walloons have in common; but even that one is more subdued than the NL-DE rivalry because Belgians don't have something akin to a "Hollandgevoel" ... our country is too small, why feel defined/confined by outdated borders?).

      The image that's being portrayed in the media is often hyperbolic (well who cares about the truth when you sell more newspapers/get more hits, views, etc.). Last week Voetbal International's Van Der Gijp was musing about those little Belgians again. Those who don't know this guy might be offended. I don't take him seriously (he does make me laugh) + Boskamp pats him "gently" on the back when he's full of it. Still these kind of views seem to resonate in the Dutch/Flemish mediascape ... often the most idiotic discussions ensue.

      "... Belgium has exceeded the quality level of, lets say a Macedonia or a Finland" ... add Holland too (according to Dutch pundits ... both silly and serious ones). It's not only in Belgium that our team is lauded ... yet noone in BE really believes we can go all the way (quarterfinals or BEtter is the FA's objective/the Dutch FA is aiming for semifinals or better - Cruijff hopes they'll get past the group stage & don't get slaughtered) ... also the "Belgian hype" can be easily drowned by Orange-mania (the Dutch can still beat everyone in being boastful). Just kidding ... Holland is still a marquee name and a team that will be feared by most of their opponents. However to be called a true outsider they currently lack the quality of previous squads ... which in the past was a good reason to boast about. Nevertheless with this squad Van Gaal has already performed better than during his 2002 campaign ... I'm confident that a manager of his stature will give the Dutch (and us if we're eliminated before you) something to cheer about (JUICHEN).

      PS both Holland and Belgium deserve a seed (+ Brazil, Argentina, Germany, Spain, Italy and probably Colombia). I'd continue with comments about seeding that actually belong here ... but when you feel the need for a pissing contest ... there are more than enough of "those conversations" elsewhere.

    3. A rare, balanced view on things. Great reply, bravo !

    4. I agree, Ed.

      Two words I had to look up: Hollandgevoel and Schadenfreude :)

  19. My biggest gripe is FIFA making up their seeds as see fit instead of announcing the protocol ahead of time.

    As for Les Diables Rouges. They are getting hype and lots of it because what they could be. As for not being world class Benteke is only behind Ronaldo and Messi for most league goals in 2013.

    Vertonghen is a world class player ask Barcelona if they could use him.

    It's almost as if Belgians were not getting hype then everyone jumped on the bandwagon and now people are trying just to be contrarian for sake going against the gain.

    If it were so easy to fly through UEFA qualifications then everyone would be doing it.

    1. I can't believe this was allowed to happen again!! It was shocking when they announced at the last minute that the Euro play-offs for 2010 would be seeded (just so they could get France into the final) and yet they don't learn at all! It's totally outrageous and cannot believe not more people pull them up on this!

    2. Listen "schoolboy", You don't earn a drivers license by performing well in school for 1 year, You earn a drivers licence for your graduation.

      And a handful of you guys (rather convenient) begging and pleading and praising and singing worship to Sepp Blatter's momentum BS-meter isn't going to change jack sh%t. Belgium is NOT getting seeded. Not until the draw for WC2018 for sure.

      I am 99,99% sure of it. The whole notion is ridiculous and a giant smack in the face of consistency and justice of the past 40 years.

      And please don't turn this into a rivalry fight. I am quite fond of the Belgian NT and the bulk of it's supporters but this is about some whiny kid in the neighbourhood nagging to get a perk, which will screw it's neighbour and a couple of other friends, who have actually done the work in the past. I don't mind if you express the hope of getting seeded. There's a big difference when stating it as a fact/claim though. So momentarily you are in the top 8, and all of a sudden you earn every bit of respect and all perks? Seriously?

    3. I agree in that Belgium shouldn't be seeded. They haven't qualified for a finals since 2002 and shouldn't be rewarded simply for having a good qualifying campaign and being suddenly in the Top 8 when the draw is made. Similarly with Colombia. This same principle meant that Norway were somehow top seeded for the Euro qualifying draw simply because they found themselves in the top 9 at the right moment - this has only meant that they are in a very weak section and are unlikely to qualify anyway, which proves the fallacy of using a "snapshot" of the rankings.
      I think FIFA have used a combination of the world rankings and recent World Cup finals performances to decide the seeds in the past and I hope they do the same this time. These would be my seeds: Brazil, Spain, Germany, Netherlands, Argentina, Uruguay, Italy, Portugal, with the other pots made up of the remaining 8 Europeans, Asia/Concacaf & CAF/Conmebol. Granted this could produce a potential "Group of Death" scenario like Spain/Belgium/Colombia/USA but, even so, it's up to the apparent "new kids on the block" to prove it on the big stage.

    4. Sidewinder, please don't shout... The Anonymous posting above is FAR more decent.

      We don't earn "every bit of respect and all perks", we just want what's up to us. If the standard rules would be that FIFA Ranking is used, we'd deserve the seed if we end up in top 7, that's all. And we have some claims to support that seed, all based upon current players. You could argue you need to include history and that might be a valid case, but i disagree (politely).

      Afaik seeding is used to separate the currently 7/8 best teams, and if you use that criterium, there are arguments to claim that. Maybe to few to convince everyone, but that's no need to curse.

    5. Sidewinder, you're entitled to voice your opinion and if you had provided valid arguments it could have carried a bit of weight too. When you feel that jumping in there with "Listen schoolboy" ..., "a handful of you guys (rather convenient) begging and pleading and praising and singing worship to Sepp Blatter's momentum BS-meter", etc. is more than a silly troll move, please elaborate with arguments that are grounded in reality. Right now you appear to me as one of those ludicrous pundits or "fans" that you see shouting at the sidelines of an amateur/childrens game.

      We've always regarded our neighbours to the north as being a warm, tolerant and funloving people. Although based on personal experiences and what my Dutch colleagues & friends have shared, that image corresponds less and less with Dutch society as the years go by. Still it's hard to believe that you'll completely get entrenched in polarization (that's a Flemish/Walloon thing). Also a bit of Flemish-Dutch ribbing is fine ... we haven't lost our sense of humour ... and in those rare cases when a truly frustrated Belgian or Dutchman goes overboard ... he's regarded as a relic.

      Finally, you seem to have mixed feelings about the Belgian NT and the proponents of a Belgian seeding (calling them whiny kids that are out to screw over the Dutch, etc.). But where did you read:

      - that we like to screw over the Dutch (and even a couple of their hardworking friends)

      => on the contrary, I expressed that the Dutch NT deserves to be seeded (clearly disagreeing with the current Fifa ranking and the likes of Cruijff, Van Gaal, etc.; am I misjudging the media buzz coming from Holland = there are more than 8 NTs better than the Dutch NT, etc.).

      - of all those who made comments in here ... who begged, pleaded, ... has been worshipping Step Ladder?

      => Instead of sticking to the current Fifa ranking, I've focused on the 8 teams that have the best odds to go all the way = the 4 undisputed football superpowers + 2 outsiders, i.e. Belgium & Italy, which are well documented in the global mediascape + the Dutch & Colombian NTs. Eventhough we're at least allowed to disagree about who's currently among the 8 best ... simply venting your frustration will only cause us to devolve into a pissing contest.

      - you assert that I stated as fact/made claims about Belgium having landed a seed while taking this perk away from Holland. Can you show me where you've read that?

      => Belgium still has to qualify first (which is very likely to happen, either in Zagreb against Croatia or in Brussels against Wales) + I expressed concern that Belgium might not be seeded at WC2014. Also we haven't taken a perk away from Holland. We have to jump through the same hoops that Fifa sets in our path.

      If my recollections are correct Belgium wasn't seeded at WC2002 and Holland wasn't seeded at WC2006 because of their performances throughout the 8 years leading up to the World Cup (including their results at the 2 previous WCs). However at WC2010 Holland was seeded based on the revised formula, reflecting results over a four-year period instead of 8 (formula was revised in July 2006 + implemented at WC2010). I can't tell what the result would have been if the old formula was applied in 2010 but maybe there was a side that blamed the Dutch for taking their seed. Even if that was the case, it's useless to blame another NT because it's Fifa's decision.

      We know that Fifa moves slowly but they aren't really transparant. So my best guess for the seeding procedure of Brazil2014 = the same procedure as the one that was implemented ahead of WC2010 might be used again. Michel D'Hooghe already voiced his support ... the gist of his article is that the only criterium will be the FIFA ranking.

  20. Its been a long time since I've visited this site but after reading all the comments I think all y'all need a good laugh. Ed could you please post for this USA fan one of the two scenarios in 10000 where we get a seed? Its gotta be pretty fantastic!

  21. You'd get seeded when:
    - USA wins both games
    - Chile wins from Colombia, but loses to Ecuador
    - England doesn't win twice
    - Portugal doesn't win vs. Israel
    - Belgium loses vs. Croatia and Wales
    - Netherlands & Switzerland lose once or draws twice
    - Croatia wins vs. Belgium and loses to Scotland
    - Colombia loses twice
    Results of Brazil, Uruguay, Germany, Italy, Argentina and Spain don't matter.

    1. small correction: result of Belgium-Croatia doesn't matter, but if Belgium wins, Croatia won't overtake USA even if they win vs. Scotland, so USA would be top 8.

    2. Thanks. The US fans need to know how improbable it is due to the seeding announcement today.

  22. I think using the current fifa ranking would be the most logical, with a possible exception for the reigning world champion if that team for some reason wouldn't be in the top 7 at the time of the next world. Performances in games that are over 4 years ago are utterly meaningless because the squads change dramatically in such a time period.

    Look at tennis rankings for exampe, the rankings ONLY take into account the past 52 weeks, if federer or nadal play badly for just ONE year they would completely tumble out of the rankings. Venus Williams is currently ranked 35 in the world and was unseeded at the US Open this summer in spite of having won the tournament several times in the past. The point of the seeding is to give the 8 CURRENT best teams in the world the chance of all reaching the quarter-finals if they all play well and to balance the groups in a way that the best teams don't all end up in the same group and eliminate each other in the group stages.

    The fifa ranking already takes into account results of the past 4 years, this should be enough, go back further and you reward teams for results they accieved with different players which gives you no indication whatsoever about the strength of the current squad.

    1. Tennis uses ONLY one year because ALL tournaments are played in the course of one year, as opposed to football where all tournaments are played in the course of 4 years. It's not that 4 years is enough, it's the minimum required to consider a team's performance in all tournaments (you can't forget about last WC results only because WC was played 3 years and 3 month ago). I would say that one year in tennis is equivalent to 4 years in football. Also, changes occur at a slower rate in football. In tennis, if a player is injured and doesn't play, his position in the ranking will be greatly affected. While in football, you may lose a couple of key players and the team will be affected, but not as drastically.

      But there's a difference with tennis, the points you earned when you won the Australian open do con depreciate in time until you play the tournament again. In football, you play the worldcup and after a year your points start to depreciate. This makes teams like Belgium and Colombia to be up there when they didn't even participate in last WC or, for example in the case of Belgium, they didn't even participate in the Euro Cup! Nothing against Belgium and Colombia, I think these are great teams that can easily be seeded, why not. All I'm saying is, this is a bit odd and it is certainly something not to be left unnoticed.

      If the ranking were to be analogous to the one used in tennis, there would be a 4 year span and no depreciation of points.

    2. The fifa rankings actually only really take into account the last 2 years.
      The current year and the previous year count for 75% (50-25) of the total score. The other two years count for 25% combined. (10 and 15% of the total).

      It has been made far more volatile than it used to be to make it more interesting for people to keep regular "track" of, and to please it's sponsor. Also relatively unknown soccer nations could get higher on the list quicker, thus making it less static and more interesting.
      It's marketing 101. Expand your business. Make your customer feel important. Then, empty their wallets.

      And looky here; Look what the COCA COLA fifa world rankings have established here... discussions, importance and praise and worship from newcomers.


      I take my hands off this discussion you may do as you please with the endresults. It is all vanity in the end.

      And @Jeroen, where did I shout and curse? The use of an expression is a fellony in the eyes of the internet moral police? You will feel right at home with the people from FIFA. They speak with a somewhat similar tongue as you do. Maybe you should apply for a job.

      @anonymous who replied to me earlier, so a Belgian guy at FIFA voices his support for the seeding method that will benefit Belgium. Am I the only one that sees a gaping conflict of interest here?

  23. I know it has nothing to do with ranking, but this are the teams that are the strongest ones, in the opinion of the bookmakers:

    1. I find it funny Mexico still has better odds than Switzerland at winning the world cup.
      Switzerland is practically qualified, and Mexico has only won one of 8 qualifying matches, drew 5 and lost 2. With results like that you would be completely without a single probability of qualifying in CAF/UEFA/CONMEBOL qualifiers.

      Yes, concacaf must be a really difficult group to qualify from.

    2. @Sidewinder. Do you ever tire of trolling? Anyway, giving you the benefit of the doubt; The hexagonal is the best 6 teams in the region, so a UEFA "hex" equivalent might look a bit like this: Spain, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Belgium. Suddenly a 1-5-2 record doesn't look so shoddy. Having said that, Mexico are traditionally one of two heavyweights in the region, so their struggle to qualify, and especially their inability to win at the Azteca, is something of a mystery. I personally think they will get it together enough to dispatch NZ in the play-off, however.

    3. In this case, true, but, Hey it's just a link i clicked and the odds surprised me quite a bit.
      I felt like changing the topic a little bit as I could've gone on endlessly about the marginal differences with the subtop etc.

      Let's be honest; it is somewhat peculiar is it not? I don't really understand what you are trying to say with the hexagonal thing, sure they're the best teams in the region but is the comparison with the European top really applicable? Especially: Trinidad, Honduras and Panama?
      Let's have a look at Germany's qualification group, or Italy's qualification group, then tell me what teams they're better than. Add the fact that concacaf gets one of the easier playoffs for 4th spot, I am now somewhat convinced that this group is rewarded too heavily with seeds. And I honestly didn't think much of it before.

      ps: Why is Portugal rated 40:1? that seems like a really good bet to me, I certainly rate them much higher than that.

    4. Don't get me wrong, I do see your point, however I think the best 3 or 4 teams in Concacaf would hold their own against most middle ranking European nations. I'll back that up with some recent evidence (ignoring friendlies as they are unreliable pointers):
      WC2010 - Mexico beat France, USA tied England & beat Slovenia, Honduras tied Switzerland.
      WC2006 - Trinidad tied Sweden, USA tied eventual winners Italy.
      WC2002 - Costa Rica tied with eventually 3rd placed Turkey, USA beat Portugal, Mexico beat Croatia & tied Italy in a game they should have won.
      My point re the "hex" was that it is now very competitive and clearly Panama are a new strength in the region and Costa Rica would seem to have their best team for at least 10 years. This all means that Mexico & USA don't have a stroll to the finals any more. I personally think they are now worthy of 4 spots and I don't see NZ beating any of Mexico, Honduras or Panama in the play-off. Incidentally the intercontinental play-offs were drawn randomly this time. If you recall it was an "Americas" play-off last time in which Costa Rica lost very narrowly to Uruguay - and we know how well Uruguay did in the finals.

    5. I don't dispute Mexico, USA and Costa rica have decent competitive teams, and a couple of other teams are no walk-overs but that doesn't mean all the decent teams have to make it through to the world cup. the point is: it shouldn't be a free ride to the world cup if you only have a decent team. You need to be the upper echelon of decent teams.

      Sweden has a decent team, France has a decent team, Turkey has a decent team, Denmark has a decent team, Ukraine has a decent team, Croatia has a decent team, Portugal has a (more than) decent team, etc etc, yet they are all (most likely) convicted to the 50-50 playoff over here. Meaning probably half of them will not qualify at all. Only because they usually have 1 team in their group that is even better, or had some misfortune happen to them along the way. Some of those teams only had like 2 missteps (draw/loss) and are still convicted to the playoffs.

      The same thing goes for Conmebol, where Uruguay, Venezuela and Peru have decent teams, yet 2 out of those 3 will certainly not qualify maybe even 3 out of 3 won't.

      The point is, other countries have to fight hard to survive and excel, yet if Mexico has a lackluster and pretty bad qualification they're still almost certain to qualify for the world cup. This strikes me as somewhat unfair.

    6. It's nice to see that my evaluation corresponds with the WC odds of those bookmakers.

      "... Belgium is one of those top 8 teams (I've ranked them 5th ... ahead of Italy and Holland by a very small margin ... and Colombia or England for the final seed."

      I do agree that Portugal has a decent NT + usually they're hard to beat in any tournament. Still I'd also rank them on the same level as France and Uruguay.

      According to these bookmakers Holland & Belgium should be seeded and the real toss up is between Colombia and England ... I feel that Colombia has better odds to reach the quarterfinals = deserves a seed more than England does.

      PS in the end my comments are only fluff and most likely the FIFA ranking will be the only seeding criterium.

    7. Sidewinder, there's a reason it's called the WORLD Cup.

      That said, I'd like it if CONCACAF and CONMEBOL merged into one confederation. As a US fan, it may make qualifying harder, but I think we'd be a lot better prepared for it going up against better teams in meaningful matches.

    8. Merging a few confederations actually would make sense.

      - OFC and AFC (Aussiex3 already went for an easier zone and what's left in OFC looks almost as though as Caribbean NTs)

      Together with UEFA and CAF you'll have 4 confederations instead of 6.

      This is from Juan's comment:

      UEFA: 13
      CONMEBOL: 4.5
      CAF: 5
      AFC: 4.5
      CONCACAF: 3.5
      OFC: 0.5
      Organizer: 1

      So if nothing changes to the amount of berths for each confederation:

      UEFA: 13
      CAF: 5
      AFC + OFC: 5
      Organizer: 1

      Next step: make one global qualifier and we truly have a World Cup.

    9. I like the idea of global qualifiers, but imagine the logistics! I would at least do a separation of time ranges... If you play in South America and d 4 days later you have to play in Asia... imagine the logistics involved in that! And the jet-lagg wouldn' be fair for the away players.
      I think, for a global qualifier, it'd make sense to do the following:

      AFC + OFC

      So you'd have 3 regions. This way the only restriction would be the long flights.

    10. Hmmm, Iceland v South Africa, Fiji v Lebanon, Argentina v Canada ????

    11. Russia has about 11 time zones and add a few more for the rest of the European zone. So when Russia likes to play in Anadyr, Uelen or some other Eastern city, jetlag already can be a major issue ... welcome to Russia 2018: NTs that hail from a warm climate ... Siberia can be a bit nippy :)

      Just kidding ... all stadions are in European Russia.
      For a global "qualifier" it's better to have no qualifying groups but instead to organise multiple trnys; e.g. 1 worldwide premier trny that contains the top 16 NTs, 1 worldwide 2nd tier trny that contains 32 NTs and 1 or more worldwide 3th tier trny(s) that contain 64 or 32 NTs ... all the minnows can cluster together into several regional/local minnow trnys and try to promote to the worldwide 3th tier trnys. So 3 worldwide trnys that are organised during summer (after which NTs will be relegated/promoted). Lots of advantages = several tournaments in which teams of similar quality can compete/develop, no need to qualify so you can organise it every year/every 2 years when you alternate between global WC and "continental cup"/cup in your own confederation, FIFA ranking is obsolete, seeding is easier, etc.

    12. Just an idea but, to resolve the never-ending "which continent should have x places" argument, I would propose from 2018 that FIFA allocate a number of "core" places to each confederation e.g:

      Hosts 1
      UEFA 9 (Group winners)
      Conmebol 3
      Concacaf 3
      Africa 3
      Asia 3
      = Total 22

      The other 10 places could then be decided by global play-offs featuring 20 teams who would play-off in pairs based on the following allocation:

      UEFA 9 (Group runners-up)
      Conmebol 3
      Concacaf 2
      Africa 3
      Asia 2
      Oceania 1

      I would use FIFA rankings to seed them and also keep teams from the same confederation apart. So, based on the current campaign and present rankings, this is a hypothetical scenario for the 2014 play-offs:

      Uruguay v Iceland
      Ecuador v New Zealand
      Croatia v Iran
      Portugal v Jordan
      Greece v Burkina Faso
      Sweden v Tunisia
      Denmark v Venezuela
      France v Panama
      Ukraine v Algeria
      Mexico v Romania

      The benefits of this type of set-up would be that it would ensure that the better teams go to the finals and not just "fillers" from weaker confederations, plus it would add a lot more spice to the play-offs themselves.
      Admittedly, Europe would have most to gain and could get as many as 18 slots if they win all their play-offs (19 in 2018) but the whole point of it is to get the best 32 teams to the finals and end the debate once and for all. Would welcome some feedback on the idea....

    13. also gives the non-UEFA confederations the chance to increase their allocation - not in some dodgy meeting somewhere but on the field of play, where it should be.

    14. Anonnymous, I have to admit that I like your idea about the core places and global play-offs.

  24. @Side: "... a Belgian guy at FIFA voices his support for the seeding method that will benefit Belgium"

    Actually small countries (like Belgium, Uruguay, Portugal, Holland, etc.) are the ones in danger of being shafted. This Belgian committee member popped up in a few Belgian newspapers and said that there are no objective reasons to fiddle with the seeding. So the seeding criterium that was used at S.Africa2010 will remain the same for Brazil2014 (as there's no justification to change that in his opinion ... even if Belgium or other NTs are overtaken and no longer deserve a seed).

    He also added that ahead of WC1990 FIFA was looking to favour a larger country over a smaller one. According to the only source (Belgian FIFA committee member), he prevented that Belgium lost its seed to a larger country and he's determined that he'll be hard on anyone that tries to fiddle again.

    Seeing that he's only pandering + these journalists most likely didn't check facts/look for corroboration, etc. ... this should be taken with a grain of salt.

    PS that article was a call for more transparancy at FIFA (at least publish seeding procedures a lot earlier than just a few days before the draw).

  25. Is it possible that there could be 5 CONMEBOL teams seeded.

    Let's say

    Chile beats COL/ECU
    Uruguay beats ECU/ARG
    Colombia beats PAR
    Argentina beats PER
    Brazil is the host

    And if teams like Croatia/Belgium/Switzerland/Netherlands/England/Portugal all get draws/losses

    1. Yes, that's "possible". An all loss-scenario for all other teams (Belgium drawing Croatia) gives:

      1 Spain 1409
      2 Argentina 1266
      3 Uruguay 1249
      4 Colombia 1136
      5 Chile 1126
      6 Germany 1093
      7 Brazil 1093
      8 Italy 1088

  26. I completely missed the rest of the discussion as I was away, but numbers don't lie - no matter how you spin them. Reaching a WC quarterfinals shows that you are a top-class team, not making it to the second round (often due to the way pots are set up).

    Teams that have managed to reach at least a quarterfinal spot since the expansion of the World Cup in 1982:

    0 from Oceania: -
    1 from Asia: South Korea
    2 from CONCACAF: Mexico, United States
    3 from Africa: Cameroon, Ghana, and Senegal
    4 from CONMEBOL: Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay
    22 from Europe: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Ireland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine

    In other words, more than twice top-class teams are found in Europe than in the rest of the planet.

    Difference between number of top-class teams and places at the 2014 World Cup:

    Oceania: 0.5 too many
    Asia: 3.5 too many
    CONCACAF: 1.5 too many
    Africa: 2.0 too many
    CONMEBOL: 1.5 too many
    Europe: 9 too few

    By the way, in the last eight World Cups seventeen different teams have reached at least the semifinal stage. Zero from Africa, CONCACAF, and Oceania, one from Asia, three from CONMEBOL, and thirteen (76.5%) from Europe.

    Yes, qualifying in Europe is really easy ...

    1. If you want to watch more Euro nations, just watch the EURO Cup in 2016. It's called a WORLD CUP and 22 Euro teams is way too many teams. Also Europe is easier to qualify than in CONMEBOL or even CAF due to UEFA qualifiers have to always play 2 minnows and only 3-4 teams have a realistic chance of qualifying. I guess playing Moldova and San Marino is tougher than playing Paraguay and Bolivia

    2. could everybody please give me the link between hard/not hard qualifying and reaching QF's?

      It doesn't matter if you have to beat paraguay,Bolivia, Moldova or San Marino, if you happen to be better than all 4 of those countries.

      On the other hand, how many European teams qualified just by beating another European team in 1/8f? In 2010: 3 1/8-finals were UEFA-UEFA, in 2006 even 4. This means 7 UEFA teams in the last 2 WC's qualified by beating another UEFA team and only 2 qualified by beating another continent (Italy-Australia & England - Ecuador). 11/26 and 1/9 teams were eliminated during qualification.

      So: the worst of UEFA-World cup teams are worse than CONMEBOL's, the best of the UEFA world cup teams are better than average Conmebol.

      And why adding other teams: because it's a world cup, not a best 32-teams cup.

    3. 11/26 and 1/9 teams were eliminated during qualificatio n => has to be "during first round"

    4. I don't like that statement A.G. “Numbers don't lie, no matter how much you spin them”. It holds the assumption that you are capable of extracting the truth out of numbers, while others can't. Do you have God's cell phone number? Is He telling you the “ground truth” about numbers? Or are you some famous mathematician/statistician? What makes you think that your proposed methodology is fit for extracting truth out of numbers while mine, for instance, is just “spinning numbers”? Both of our approaches are arbitrary, they don't follow any known and validated formal procedures. This means that, actually, both of us are “spinning numbers”. In fact, there are some important holes in your approach. But I'm not here to say that my way is right and yours is wrong, or viceversa. I'm sure that any method can be subject to critic. However, you cannot claim that others are spinning numbers and then come out with a set of totally arbitrary procedures and believe that you can grasp the truth. Without any way of validating a method there is no way to asses the quality and/or the truth in them. So, just be careful before throwing judgment when you are doing the same yourself.

      Before I reply to you, I must tell you: nobody said it was easy to qualify in Europe, if anything I said the opposite. Nobody questioned Europe's strength. I remind you that it was you the one who said South America is a weak confederation that deserves 2/3 spots at the most. I am arguing against this statement and I would never even think about questioning Europe's strength. History says that Europe has 10 WCs while South America has 9, so... Europe is the strongest one. No need to go back to that.

      I'm gonna be generous with you, and assume that your methodology has been validating by God, and hence it holds the truth. You previously said South America should have 2/3 at the most, but you just showed that South America has 4 top teams. 4 top teams and 4.5 places seems fair to me (you cannot count the organizer spot, that changes for every WC).... what happened there? Is it possible that you might have been wrong in your statement? Your analysis agrees with mine in this point. If we are gonna re-distribute the 32 WC places, it is Asia (1 top team vs 4.5 places) and Africa (3 top team vs 5 places) the ones that should have less, not South America.

      Finally, you said “Europe doesn't have more teams, it has BETTER teams” and “more than twice top-class teams are found in Europe than in the rest of the planet.“. Well, you forget that South America has 10 teams, while Europe has 54, making the last statement an unfair comparison. Then, according to your analysis, 4/10=40% of South American teams are TOP teams. While 22/54 =40.7% of European teams are TOP teams. If you take a random sample of 10 European teams, you'll have 4 TOP teams in that sample, SAME as South America. If you don't believe me, you can do the following experiment. Take 10 European teams at random. Within the sample, count the number of teams that are included in your list of 22 top teams (you can call this x). Repeat 100 times. Calculate the average of x over those 100 runs. The result will be pretty close to 4.07. So, what have your “truthful” numbers proven? That Europe doesn't have better teams, it has MORE teams (at least when comparing with South America). I really don't care much for this. It is totally possible that Europe has better teams. But I just wanted to show you that YOUR numbers do not validate your assumption of Europe having better teams.

  27. Top 7 of the October ranking will be seeded: (in Dutch, use google translate if needed;) )

  28. Well, it's finally official. FIFA will use the October ranking for the seeding at the World Cup. Celebrations can start in Belgium and Colombia, while the Swiss can start to cool their champagne.

  29. Confirm! Fifa Ranking of October 2013 will be used for select the seeded teams.
    "Regarding the procedure for the Final Draw for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™, the seeded teams (Pot 1) will include Brazil and the seven top-ranked teams. The remaining pots will be based on geographic and sports criteria. The FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking of October 2013 (to be released on 17 Oct. 2013) will be used as opposed to the November ranking as the latter would give the teams involved in the upcoming play-off games an unfair advantage."

  30. The most 'believeable' solution: the same seeding procedure as the last time around. That's good, FIFA. Also: good to publish it earlier than expected (and announced), even before the last round of qualifiers.

    One thing left to be desired: next time publish it before qualifying starts.

    I wonder, could all the discussions in this forum have had any influence on this new 'transparant' behaviour of FIFA :)

  31. could someone check this:

    WW = win & win
    LD = loss & draw
    01 Spain 1513 1481 1465 1476 1444 1428 1457 1425 1409
    02 Argentina 1387 1307 1266 1318 1237 1197 1283 1203 1163
    03 Germany 1311 1230 1189 1247 1166 1125 1215 1134 1093
    04 Colombia 1262 1190 1154 1178 1106 1070 1136 1064 1028
    05 Belgium 1249 1175 1138 1154 1080 1043 1107 1033 996
    06 Uruguay 1249 1187 1156 1192 1131 1100 1164 1102 1072
    07 Italy 1230 1188 1166 1178 1136 1114 1152 1110 1088
    08 Croatia 1149 1081 1046 1052 984 949 1004 935 901
    09 Switzerland 1138 1043 995 1052 957 909 1009 914 866
    10 Netherlands 1136 1067 1033 1059 990 956 1020 951 917
    11 Chile 1126 1057 1022 1051 982 947 1013 944 910
    12 Portugal 1095 1062 1045 1036 1002 985 1006 973 956
    13 Brazil 1078 1065 1059 1064 1051 1045 1057 1044 1038
    14 England 1080 1024 995 1008 951 923 972 915 887
    15 USA 1040 1007 990 1015 982 966 1003 970 954
    For Belgium:
    WW => Belgium between 2 and 4
    WD => Belgium between 2 and 7
    WL => Belgium between 2 and 7
    DW => Belgium between 2 and 7
    DD => Belgium between 5 and 11
    DL => Belgium between 6 and 14
    LW => Belgium between 3 and 11
    LD => Belgium between 7 and 15
    LL => Belgium between 8 and 15

    So: in case of a win vs Croatia, Belgium's seeded

    1. Jeroen, your table is correct I believe. A draw vs Croatia and a win vs Wales is also enough for Belgium to bee seeded.

      Spain and Argentina are certain seeds, along with host Brazil ofcourse. The other 5 seeded teams will come from this weeks games, and maybe even from the playoffs in November.

  32. So in case of WW for Belgium (and assuming all other matches to follow ELO), they will be third on the ranking?!

    1. 4th, Colombia, Argentina & Spain would be ahead of Belgium.

    2. They could overtake Germany and reach 3th place in a best case scenario (not ELO) with 1 more qualifier to go.

      Also Spain can still end up 2nd in their group and lose the play-offs (unlikely but possible).

  33. This comment has been removed by the author.

  34. 1 small correction: in case of a Belgium-WW scenario, Belgium could also be 5th.

    About this weekends games, if i'm right, only Argentina (and off course Spain & Brazil) could be 100% certain of seeding. On the other hand, England & USA need a win to finish top 7/8, a seeded position unless some teams who finish higher don't qualify.

    Croatia, Switzerland, Netherlands, Chile and Portugal can't finish top 7/8 if they lose this weekend OR draw and don't win on tuesday.

  35. I was very surprised when I saw an article like this on VoxEU site which regularly deals with economic issues:

    I have a feeling that Dmitry Dagaev is a regular visitor of this and/or Bert's site. :)

  36. This comment has been removed by the author.

  37. So I make that Brasil, Argentina, Germany and Belgium 100% sure of being seeded, with Italy and Spain in pole position for spots 5 and 6. Could someone tell me who edges it on decimal places if Netherlands beat Turkey and Colombia (currently losing 0-3 vs Chile) lose that match but beat Paraguay? Colombia and Netherlands then both end up with 1036 points, so the play-off spot could be decided by decimal places. Switzerland would of course have 1038 if they win and Uruguay could also secure a play-off spot by beating either Ecuador (currently trading 0-1) or Argentina.

  38. It's very tight between Colombia, Uruguay, Switzerland and the Netherlands. Colombia rallied to get back to 3-3, but they still need a win in Paraguay to make sure. Both Uruguay and Switzerland need home wins against Argentina and Slovenia respectively to make sure. The Netherlands need to win away to Turkey and hope two of Colombia, Uruguay and Switzerland don't win. It's a big ask! Saying that, Italy are not safe yet. They need a home win against a spirited Armenia who have the smallest of changes to land a second place. If Italy draw then they would join the Netherlands on 1136 points.

    Here's how it stands currently if my calculations are correct.

    1 Spain 1510
    2 Argentina 1263* (not including match versus Peru, currently 2-1)
    3 Germany 1234
    4 Belgium 1214
    5 Italy 1147
    6 Colombia 1123
    7 Uruguay 1106
    8 Netherlands 1079
    9 Brazil 1067
    10 Switzerland 1061

    And here's the maximum (win(s)), draw, minimum (los(ses)):

    Spain 1513 1481 1465 (home to Georgia)
    Argentina 1387 tbd 1163 (home to Peru, away to Uruguay)
    Germany 1311 1230 1189 (away to Sweden)
    Italy 1178 1136 1114 (home to Armenia)
    Colombia 1178 1106 1070 (away to Paraguay)
    Belgium 1249 1175 1138 (home to Wales)
    Uruguay 1164 1102 1072 (home to Argentina)
    Netherlands 1136 1067 1033 (away to Turkey)
    Switzerland 1138 1043 995 (home to Slovenia)

    1. Still a small hope for England if they win their last game while 3 of (Uruguay, Columbia, Netherlands, Switzerland) lost their games.

    2. For your sake, Homer: Uruguay coach said that the match versus Argentina doesn't meaning anything, and that now they will focus on the play-offs. He doesn't seem to be aware of their seeding chances... ;)
      But Argentina has many key players out of the next game vs. Uruguay. It wouldn't surprise me if we lost that game.

    3. Crossing my fingers here for victories of Uruguay and Colombia and so we have 4 seeded countries. That would be beautiful.

  39. Here's the latest (and last) update of the top 30 of the predicted October ranking:

    1 Spain 1513
    2 Argentina 1307
    3 Belgium 1249
    4 Germany 1230
    5 Italy 1178
    6 Switzerland 1138
    7 Netherlands 1136
    8 Colombia 1106
    9 Uruguay 1102
    10 England 1080
    11 Brazil 1078
    12 Chile 1051
    13 Portugal 1036
    14 USA 1007
    15 Croatia 1004
    16 Greece 983
    17 Russia 926
    18 Bosnia-Herzegovina 925
    19 Cote d'Ivoire 917
    20 Sweden 891
    21 Mexico 871
    22 Ukraine 871
    23 France 870
    24 Ecuador 862
    25 Ghana 860
    26 Denmark 824
    27 Serbia 778
    28 Romania 767
    29 Algeria 765
    30 Slovenia 752

    Belgium and Germany did it ! Congrats to my southern and eastern neighbors ! Switzerland and Colombia also qualified last night.

    Colombia has shot itself in the foot with the draw against Chile though and are now in dire need of a win against Paraguay (1178 pts) to become a seed. The predicted draw is probably not enough.
    Same goes for Uruguay, who lost against Ecuador. They need a win against Argentina now to become a seed (1164 pts) (and maybe qualify directly). Elo predicts a draw and with that a place in the play-off against Jordan.

    Seeding for the final draw:
    Brazil, Spain (when qualified), Argentina, Germany and Belgium are sure seeds.
    Italy needs a win against Armenia (1178 pts). A draw (1136 pts) could leave them level with the Netherlands in which case Oranje has the advantage (1135.95 over 1135.61).
    Switzerland needs a win against Slovenia (1138 pts). If Belgium loses against Wales they will have 1138 pts too, but then Belgium still has the advantage (1138.2 over 1137.7).
    The Netherlands needs a win against Turkey (1136 pts).

    Seeding for the UEFA play-offs:
    Croatia and Sweden are qualified for the play-offs.
    pot 1: Portugal, Croatia, Greece, Sweden
    pot 2: Ukraine, France, Romania, Iceland
    Denmark out as worst runner-up.

    Key match Tuesday will be Sweden-Germany where elo predicts a draw.
    France will most probably be unseeded as Ukraine only needs a win against San Marino to stay in front of them. And if England slips up against Poland then England will be seeded here anyway.

    Elsewhere Mexico defeated Panama so they are probably heading for the play-off against New Zealand, as Honduras maintained their 3 points advantage with one match to play.

    1. Columbia and Uruguay will play against unmotivated teams (Paraguay and Argentina) while Netherlands will play away with a very motivated Turkey. Italy and Switzerland will play at home.
      I wish all the best for Netherlands, But they have the mission impossible.

    2. Khaled,
      Argentina goes to Uruguay with 4/5 subtitute players. These guys want to leave a good impression so they can earn a place at the WC. I don't think what you say is correct.

      Plus, Uruguay-Argentina is one of the oldest classic matches: they played each other 99 times. No other two countries have played each other this much. There is a fraternal rivalry between us and the Uruguayans. Does that mean we will win? No, of course not. But, you can be sure that there is in fact motivation.

      As for Paraguay, they have introduced many young players to get them ready for the next WC process. These young players want to prove their worth, I don't think Paraguay will be unmotivated either....
      It's tough for the Netherlands, yes. But I wouldn't go as far as mission impossible. Two ties are two very possible outcomes.

    3. Belgium & Holland have played against each other 125 times (first 1 was in 1905 and the last derby of the low countries was in 2012).

      England & Scotland also play each other often: 111 times.

    4. From a strategic point of view, Argentina is better off with a win for an additional reason. If they can keep Uruguay out of the pot for top seeds, it will allow an additional UEFA team into pot 1, which then cannot become Argentina's adversary anymore. On top of that, if the number of all remaining UEFA teams is not larger than 8, a special pot as in 2006 will be prevented. As ARG cannot be drawn against URU, there is no direct negative effect for them neither.

    5. In fact Uruguay played Argentina more than 170 times.

    6. Are you from Uruguay, Daniel?

      Juan (Arg). I'll sign like this since all of a sudden there are a bunch of other Juan commeting, haha.

    7. @Juan: No, I am from Brazil. But I am also a big fan of the Uruguayan team and its beautiful football tradition!

    8. Nice, ok. You may have your wish, Daniel. Apparently Argentina will field 9 subs against Uruguay. While the Uruguays are playing with their full fire power, except Forlan. Although I'm not really sure that Tabarez knows about the importance of this game...

  40. I'll certainly be wearing my Argentina shirt, and I might just invest in Paraguay, Slovenia and Armenia ones! It's going to be a hot night and early morning, if and only if Oranje don't mess it up in Istanbul! The chances aren't great, we've lost two of the last three "last" games in recent qualifiers, away against Sweden and Belarus!

  41. So, correct me if I am wrong, there is still one way the US can get seeded but would take all of this in the fnal qualifying game:

    USA win
    Netherlands loss
    England tie or loss
    Switzerland loss
    Chile tie or loss
    AND Uruguay does not qualify ( lose playoff)


    1. Yes, what you say is correct IFF Uruguay fails to qualify. You could also think that Spain won't qualify and that also gives US a seeding chance. To think that Jordan can eliminate Uruguay is almost as Crazy as thinking that Spain will lose their last game at home and fail at the playoffs. Well I admit that Spain not qualifying is the most ridiculous scenario. Still, Jordan eliminating Uruguay??? hmmmmm.

      But yes, theoretically, what you say is correct. But hey, why not let Panama win, and leave the mexicans out of the WC? Wouldn't that be something, to leave your arch-rivals out of the competition? haha.

    2. Actually a 1-0 win for Panama and a 1-0 loss for Mexico does eliminate them and don't forget that awful field in Costa Rica.

  42. Here are another few merely theoretical considerations:

    The expected top seeds aside from hosts Brazil are indeed: Argentina, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Colombia, and provided they qualify Spain and Uruguay. While (ESP)/ARG/GER/BEL are certain, there are conditions ITA/COL/(URU) may fail to reach pot 1. Depending on whether Spain and/or Uruguay fail to qualify at all, 3-5 spots are up for grabs. Potential contenders for these 3-5 spots include: already qualified Switzerland, Netherlands, USA and also England, Chile, Croatia, Portugal who may still fail to qualify.

    In either of the following 3 scenarios, it is possible that pot 1 will includes 6 teams from UEFA.
    a) Switzerland can surpass with a win either ITA/COL/URU if these fail to win their last match.
    b) The Netherlands needs a win and 2 out of ITA/COL/URU/SUI to fail to win their last match.
    c) England needs a win for direct qualification, can in no event surpass Italy, but will become a top seed, if 3 out of the latter 4 happen: COL/URU to lose, NED/SUI to draw/lose.

    The following 3 scenarios only work if at least Spain or Uruguay first needs to contend in and subsequently strikes out in the playoffs – unlikely, but if Spain were to miss the world cup, even a pot 1 with not more than 3 teams from UEFA would be theoretically possible.
    a) Chile wins, ensures direct qualification, can in no event surpass COL and needs all 3 of NED/SUI/ENG to draw/lose.
    b) USA need a win and both NED/SUI to lose and both ENG/CHL to draw/lose.
    c) Portugal needs a win, make it through the potential playoffs, and both NED/SUI to lose and both ENG/CHL/USA to draw/lose
    d) If the Netherlands or Switzerland draw their matches, they take ranking positions above Chile and USA respectively.

    If both ESP/URU miss the world cup, even CRO can still become a top seed. While they can in no event surpass NED, if they win, make it through the playoffs, while all SUI/ENG/USA lose and both CHL/POR draw/lose their last matches respectively. If England, the USA or Portugal draw, they take ranking positions just above (ENG,USA) or below (POR) Croatia respectively.

    The decisive matches to pay special attention to with regards to the top seed ranking are therefore:
    Pos.1: ESP-GEO, (FRA-FIN)
    Pos.5: ITA-ARM
    Pos.6: URU-ARG, (CHI-ECU)
    Pos.7: PAR-COL
    Pos.8: SUI-SVN
    Pos.9: TUR-NED
    Pos.10: ENG-POL, (SMR-UKR)
    Pos.11: CHI-ECU
    Pos.12: PAN-USA
    Pos.13: POR-LUX, (AZB-RUS)
    Pos.14: SCO-CRO