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Friday, November 21, 2014

2018 FIFA World Cup seeding (UEFA): 10000 simulations (21 November 2014)

See previous simulation results.

As usual with competition/pot sims, I used ClubElo's expected goals formula. Games up to and including 20 November 2014.

Very important: this is based on the fixtures list from If teams schedule other friendlies things will look different.

Based on these 10000 simulations, these would be the pots. Teams are sorted by the average pot over the 10000 sims.

Pot 1: Germany, Netherlands, Romania, Belgium, Portugal, England, Italy, Czech Republic, Spain
Pot 2: Croatia, Switzerland, Slovakia, France, Israel, Austria, Ukraine, Iceland, Denmark
Pot 3: Wales, Poland, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Serbia, Greece, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Hungary, Slovenia
Pot 4: Sweden, Republic of Ireland, Albania, Montenegro, Turkey, Norway, Finland, Bulgaria, Armenia
Pot 5: Estonia, Lithuania, FYR Macedonia, Latvia, Belarus, Cyprus, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Faroe Islands
Pot 6: Kazakhstan, Liechtenstein, Georgia, Malta, Luxembourg, Andorra, San Marino

Germany and Netherlands were always in the first pot in all the simulations.

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Israel and Denmark replace Northern Ireland and Serbia in pot 2.
Hungary replace Sweden in pot 3.
Faroe Islands replace Georgia in pot 5.

Pot 6

99.96% - San Marino
99.21% - Andorra
93.16% - Luxembourg
87.01% - Malta
80.98% - Georgia
67.97% - Liechtenstein
61.14% - Kazakhstan
44.04% - Faroe Islands
32.71% - Azerbaijan
29.08% - Moldova
3.00% - Belarus
1.08% - FYR Macedonia
0.46% - Latvia
0.16% - Lithuania
0.04% - Cyprus

Pot 5

94.50% - Cyprus
86.84% - Latvia
86.14% - Belarus
77.73% - Lithuania
77.71% - FYR Macedonia
72.23% - Estonia
67.43% - Moldova
67.16% - Azerbaijan
51.52% - Armenia
50.15% - Faroe Islands
36.58% - Kazakhstan
30.91% - Liechtenstein
27.00% - Bulgaria
20.88% - Finland
15.97% - Georgia
12.99% - Malta
10.61% - Montenegro
6.67% - Luxembourg
3.06% - Norway
1.40% - Albania
1.27% - Turkey
0.79% - Andorra
0.41% - Republic of Ireland
0.04% - San Marino
0.01% - Sweden

Pot 4

94.14% - Norway
93.31% - Turkey
90.35% - Albania
74.69% - Montenegro
63.94% - Finland
60.91% - Bulgaria
50.84% - Republic of Ireland
44.15% - Armenia
36.89% - Sweden
34.55% - Slovenia
34.09% - Hungary
27.77% - Estonia
27.15% - Greece
27.00% - Bosnia-Herzegovina
21.84% - Lithuania
21.05% - FYR Macedonia
16.79% - Northern Ireland
15.69% - Serbia
12.32% - Latvia
10.86% - Belarus
8.96% - Wales
7.96% - Israel
5.71% - Faroe Islands
5.46% - Cyprus
3.49% - Moldova
2.87% - Georgia
2.28% - Kazakhstan
1.82% - Poland
1.70% - Scotland
1.12% - Liechtenstein
0.17% - Luxembourg
0.13% - Azerbaijan

Pot 3

75.21% - Scotland
69.64% - Poland
63.08% - Sweden
62.35% - Bosnia-Herzegovina
60.69% - Greece
59.33% - Serbia
51.87% - Denmark
51.64% - Northern Ireland
51.50% - Slovenia
51.39% - Hungary
49.63% - Wales
48.29% - Iceland
43.82% - Republic of Ireland
37.37% - Ukraine
28.12% - Israel
26.49% - Austria
15.18% - Finland
13.73% - Montenegro
12.09% - Bulgaria
8.25% - Albania
5.42% - Turkey
4.33% - Armenia
2.80% - Norway
2.71% - Switzerland
2.50% - Croatia
1.04% - Slovakia
0.38% - Latvia
0.27% - Lithuania
0.21% - France
0.18% - Georgia
0.18% - Spain
0.16% - FYR Macedonia
0.10% - Faroe Islands
0.05% - Czech Republic

Pot 2

98.32% - France
92.07% - Slovakia
81.99% - Switzerland
69.94% - Austria
57.59% - Ukraine
54.58% - Croatia
51.03% - Iceland
48.13% - Denmark
39.03% - Israel
36.09% - Wales
32.28% - Spain
31.64% - Czech Republic
28.43% - Poland
27.69% - Northern Ireland
26.86% - Italy
23.09% - Scotland
22.58% - Serbia
14.52% - Hungary
13.95% - Slovenia
12.16% - Greece
12.13% - England
10.65% - Bosnia-Herzegovina
6.69% - Portugal
4.93% - Republic of Ireland
1.55% - Belgium
1.09% - Romania
0.97% - Montenegro
0.02% - Sweden

Pot 1

100.00% - Germany
100.00% - Netherlands
98.91% - Romania
98.45% - Belgium
93.31% - Portugal
87.87% - England
73.14% - Italy
68.31% - Czech Republic
67.54% - Spain
42.92% - Croatia
24.89% - Israel
15.30% - Switzerland
6.89% - Slovakia
5.32% - Wales
5.04% - Ukraine
3.88% - Northern Ireland
3.57% - Austria
2.40% - Serbia
1.47% - France
0.68% - Iceland
0.11% - Poland

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. OK, the target is the July 2015 ranking as that ranking most probably will be used to seed the UEFA teams for the qualifying draw WC18.

    I've made ELO-predictions for the match results of all scheduled matches on until July 16th 2015. As long as FIFA has not published their 2015 release scheme I use this date as a proxy for the publishing date for the July 2015 ranking. CAF Nations Cup 2015, CONCACAF Gold Cup 2015 and Copa America 2015 will be added as soon as the respective draws are made, the final knock-out stages of scheduled tournaments (Gulf Cup 2014, AFF Cup 2014, AFC Nations Cup 2015) are also not yet incorporated.

    The predicted pots for the UEFA WC18 qualifying draw based on these assumptions are (teams are presented by their position in the predicted July 2015 ranking):
    pot 1: Belgium (1 !), Germany (2), Portugal (3), Romania (4 !), England (5), Spain (6), Italy (8), Netherlands (9), Czech Republic (12)
    pot 2: Croatia (14), Switzerland (15), France (18), Slovakia (19), Denmark (22), Iceland (23), Austria (24), Ukraine (28), Israel (29)
    pot 3: Bosnia-Herzegovina (31), Republic of Ireland (32), Poland (33), Greece (36 !), Sweden (37 !), Scotland (40), Northern Ireland (41), Hungary (42), Wales (43)
    pot 4: Serbia (46), Slovenia (47), Albania (53), Turkey (64 !), Montenegro (66), Norway (67), Finland (69), Bulgaria (74), Estonia (82)
    pot 5: Cyprus (83), Armenia (86), FYR Macedonia (90), Lithuania (92), Latvia (97), Belarus (98), Azerbaijan (109), Moldova (115), Faroe Islands (115)
    pot 6: Liechtenstein (124), Luxembourg (126), Kazakhstan (131), Georgia (140), Malta (141), San Marino (181), Andorra (201)

    Almost the same result as your simulations, Edgar: Serbia/Slovenia switch pots with Sweden/Republic of Ireland and Armenia switch pots with Estonia.

    1. Yikes Edgar, do I read it correctly from your Twitter correspondence with Mr. Alex Stone from FIFA that he claims that July 9th will be the publishing date for the July 2015 ranking ?
      That would be most unfair because this would mean that the semi-finals and finals of the WC14 would still count for the first timeframe (weight 1.0) and the rest of the WC-matches for the second timeframe (weight 0.5). A big advantage for Germany and the Netherlands then in the UEFA-section of this (seeding) ranking.
      I would like to see the official release of the publishing dates for 2015 first though.

    2. Yup, and those are the exact dates I've been using for my sims :) That's why Germany and Netherlands are always in Pot 1.

    3. Talking about fairness and equality in the sport and taking simple measures to create at least an almost level "playing field". FIFA sucks at that big time !

    4. Remember they are forced by the continental competitions as they publish the ranking in the Thursday after the final match.

      Copa America end July 4th, thus the 9th July release date.

      Gold Cup ends July 26th - one day after the 2018 WCQ draw.

      I see only one solution - postpone the draw by 1 week and use the ranking published on July 30th - but that's not going to happen.

    5. I still don't understand. The July ranking is used neither for the CONMEBOL seeding (they don't need seeds there at all as they qualify in one group) nor for CONCACAF (their seeding will most probably be based on the March 2015 ranking as you assumed in So the July ranking should be crucial for seeding purposes in UEFA, CAF and AFC only.
      For CAF and AFC there are only "friendly" matches played in any of the years 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012 or 2011 in the month of July. So the only confederation which should have real impact on setting the correct publishing date is UEFA. And that means that FIFA should set the publishing date of the July ranking in such a way that all the WC2014-matches with UEFA teams involved are in the same timeframe. For fairness' sake this should lead to a publishing date of July 16th. Still in time for the WCQ18-draw.

      And this simple measure is not taken. Is it out of ignorance or are there other forces involved, I do not know. But I find it just staggering if July 9th will be the publishing date.

    6. OK, but does that change anything I'm saying ? It seems to me as one more, solid argument in favour of a publishing date of July 16th 2015 :)

    7. Ed, could you publish+e-mail the ELO-predictions in which Belgium would end above Germany? As you can imagine, i'd be VERY interested ;).

    8. Jeroen, nothing special: Belgium and Germany both win all scheduled matches before July. But please keep in mind that my ranking was based on a publishing date of July 16th, leading to Germany losing substantial points due to devaluation of their WC14-match points.
      If I use July 9th as publishing date (and in the meantime add two friendlies for Germany against Australia and USA and the Copa America group matches) Germany will be second with 1488 points (behind Argentina with 1501 points) before Belgium on third place with 1389 points, Colombia on fourth with 1326 and the Netherlands on fifth spot with 1312 points.
      As I said, a big advantage for Germany and the Netherlands in the UEFA-section of the ranking if July 9th is the publishing date.

    9. I was just wondering if i'd contact the Belgian FA. if they could become nr1, it would be very usefull. But Argentina seems to spoil the fun?

    10. @Ed, not it doesn't :) I'm for postponing the draw by 1 week.

  2. What about CAF 2018 qualfiers formula? When will be released??
    Does it will be as 2014? Or will be a new formula?

    1. Probably they will announce it after the AFCON. They have to think of both the AFCON 2017 and the 2018 WC. I expect there will be a new format.

    2. They cannot combine the two qualifiers together,, WC qualifiers usually ends at November 2017,, AFCON must played at January 2017.

  3. Replies
    1. Have you read the ClubElo article? For questions regarding the formula, ask Lars.

    2. Денис Пономаренко is right. The "proba" on Lars's formula is based on the difference between the two teams + home field advantage. Since you use rankings, the home field advantage should be 100 points (since the ranking calculation is based on this number).
      I believe you take take that into account on your next simulations.

    3. Alright, thanks for your answer!

  4. How can Hungary have 14.52% chance to be in pot 2? If they bead Greece and Finland, will that realise for sure? What was your way of thinking?

    1. Got your e-mail.

      With 2 wins, Hungary is 97.12% in Pot 2.

  5. A fresh look at the July ranking based on ELO-predictions for the match results of all scheduled matches on The final knock-out stages of scheduled tournaments (Copa America 2015) are incorporated, as well as all EURO and World Cup qualifiers scheduled to date.

    The predicted pots for the UEFA WC18 qualifying draw based on these assumptions are (teams are presented by their position in the predicted July 2015 ranking):
    pot 1: Germany (2), Belgium (5), Netherlands (6), Romania (7), Portugal (9), England (10), Spain (11), Italy (13), Czech Republic (14)
    pot 2: Croatia (15), France (16), Switzerland (17), Slovakia (18), Austria (23), Denmark (24), Ukraine (25), Israel (27), Republic of Ireland (28)
    pot 3: Bosnia-Herzegovina (29), Iceland (31), Poland (33), Greece (35), Sweden (36), Scotland (37), Wales (41), Serbia (42), Hungary (46)
    pot 4: Albania (50), Slovenia (51), Northern Ireland (52), Finland (56), Turkey (63), Norway (65), Bulgaria (76), Montenegro (80), Estonia (85)
    pot 5: Cyprus (86), Armenia (88), FYR Macedonia (93), Lithuania (95), Belarus (101), Latvia (106), Moldova (112), Azerbaijan (115), Faroe Islands (119)
    pot 6: Luxembourg (132), Kazakhstan (138), Georgia (139), Liechtenstein (141), Malta (156), San Marino (186), Andorra (199)

    Changes in pots compared to the first set of predictions (November 2014):
    - Republic of Ireland 3 to 2; Iceland 2 to 3
    - Serbia 4 to 3; Northern Ireland 3 to 4

    1. A friendly has been scheduled between Liechtenstein and San Marino on 31 March. Both teams managed good results last autumn - San Marino drew with Estonia, while Liechtenstein drew with Montenegro and beat Moldova. Can either team climb to pot 5 with a good result in this friendly?

    2. Interesting question. Elo predicts a Liechtenstein win, so that result is incorporated in Liechtenstein's 141st spot and San Marino's 186th spot in July. With a draw Liechtenstein drops to 145 and San Marino climbs to 183. A San Marino win lifts them to 178th spot, not anywhere near pot 5.

      Of course the EURO-qualifier against Slovenia in March is predicted as a loss and it would take a win there plus a win against Liechtenstein to propel San Marino to 121st spot, and even that miracle won't be enough for a pot 5 spot ! They will have to win some more matches before we'll see them really climbing the ranks. But you gotta start somewhere....

    3. Hi Ed,
      if Croatia win vs Italy, would that be enough for Pot 1, or somebody else still needs to fail?

    4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    5. Hi nogomet,
      Croatia's EURO-qualifier next month against Norway is predicted as a win and against Italy in June as a draw. A win against Italy would be enough for pot 1 (all other matches following elo-predictions of course) as it would give Croatia 11th spot and thus 7th spot in the UEFA ranking in front of Spain, Czech Republic and in pot 2 Italy.
      You would also terminate an unbeaten streak of (by then probably) 25 matches of Italy in EURO-qualifying.
      So all in all, an important match for both Croatia and Italy, that one.

    6. Thanks Ed, great work as always. Wow, this could indeed be a very important match and a potential play-off for Pot 1. (Unless unexpected friendlies mess something up). Croatia has been in good form lately, so I like our chances.

  6. Finally, My countr (Romania) in Pot 1 :D We can qualify at World Cup after long long time

  7. It just leaked that Croatia arranged a friendly vs Gibraltar on 7 June. This is great news because, correct me if I'm wrong, Gibraltar is not a FIFA member so matches against them do not count for FIFA ranking, right?

  8. nogomet, that's correct. It was in the planning of the Gibraltar FA to be a ratified FIFA-member before the UEFA WC18-qualifying cycle starts (the draw is July 25th), but I don't know the exact status of that process.
    But why practice against Gibraltar, a team that, given their hapless EURO-qualifying to date, appears to be of comparable strength as San Marino and Andorra ? Is it to show them a warm welcome in the UEFA family or do they pay a considerable amount of money ? Or has the Croatian FA finally listened to your continued pleas for a more 'ranking-sensible' policy regarding arranging friendlies for your NT :)

    1. Hm, so if Gibraltar joins FIFA, say in July before the draw, I would assume that they would be placed on the bottom of the ranking with 0 points, and only matches henceforth would count for the draw (no retroactive calculations)?
      As for why play vs Gibraltar, I'd assume that this match serves a purpose of a shooting training before the all important Italy match. HNS has proved to be positively ignorant about the FIFA ranking mechanics on numerous occasions, so that's most definitely not the reason. I would be very surprised if they even knew that Gibraltar is not a FIFA member. I read today that they even plan to schedule a friendly on 31 March, but they struggle with finding an opponent (what a shock that nobody is available less than 3 weeks before the planned date!). So I hope they'll schedule it with Kosovo, selection of the Croatian league, or some other non-FIFA members. :)

    2. Indeed, that was FIFA's ranking policy with f.i. the last new entrant South Sudan. They appeared in the ranking only when they had played their first match as a FIFA-member. The match points for that match (a 2:2 friendly draw against Uganda) were calculated as if South Sudan was ranked 209th.

    3. Croatia may not play against Kosovo, if we go by the Wikipedia page on the Kosovo national team, which says:

      On 13 January 2014, the national team was given permission by FIFA to play against FIFA member associations in international friendlies, with the notable exception of "representative teams of countries of the former Yugoslavia".

    4. I didn't know that's the case. Wow, that's some wild discrimination right there. So the two friendly nations cannot play each other because our neighbours would get angry?