Friday, December 15, 2017

Applying the 2026 allocations to the 2018 World Cup

By request. 2014 version here.

Slot allocations:

Confederation - 2018 actual allocation - New allocation

AFC 4.5 8
CAF 5 9
OFC 0.5 1
UEFA 13 15

I already removed 1 slot from UEFA, as the host slot is taken from the confederation allocation.


Qualified in 2018: Iran, Japan, Korea Republic, Saudi Arabia, Australia.

New teams: Syria, Uzbekistan, United Arab Emirates.
Global play-off: China PR (better record than Iraq).


Qualified in 2018: Nigeria, Egypt, Senegal, Morocco, Tunisia.

New: Congo DR, Burkina Faso, Uganda, Côte d'Ivoire
Global play-off: Zambia (worst runner-up).


Qualified in 2018: Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama.

Honduras lost the CONCACAF-AFC play-off vs. Australia.

New: Honduras, USA, Trinidad and Tobago
Global play-off: Guatemala (best record in the 3rd round).


Qualified in 2018: Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Colombia, Peru

New teams: Chile.
Global play-off: Paraguay.


Qualified in 2018: None.

New Zealand lost the CONMEBOL-OFC play-off vs. Peru.

New teams: New Zealand.
Global play-off: Solomon Islands.


Qualified in 2018: Belgium, Germany, England, Spain, Poland, Iceland, Serbia, Portugal, France, Switzerland, Croatia, Sweden, Denmark.

New teams: Italy, Northern Ireland.
Global play-off: Slovakia.

Explanation for the UEFA new teams: I had to change the system from 9 winners + play-off between the 8 best runners-up to 9 winners and 3 best runners-up + play-off between the 6 remaining runners-up. Italy (eliminated by Sweden) were in the top 3 best runners-up. This left Croatia, Northern Ireland and Slovakia seeded, with Sweden, Republic of Ireland and Greece not seeded. Croatia and Greece were paired in "real life", with Croatia advancing. Sweden had eliminated Italy in 2018, so I had them advancing of course and I chose the remaining seed - Northern Ireland as the final team. I also chose Slovakia - highest ranked team eliminated in the UEFA play-off to advance to the global play-offs.

Global play-off

First round

Seeded: China PR (57), Zambia (77)
Unseeded: Guatemala (128), Solomon Islands (152)

Second round

Seeded: Slovakia (24), Paraguay (36)

Slovakia and Paraguay also had the highest Elo ratings of the teams involved, so I chose them as winners.

So, a quick recap:

New teams in italic (those coming through the global play-offs are underlined).

AFC: Iran, Japan, Korea Republic, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Syria, Uzbekistan, United Arab Emirates
CAF: Nigeria, Egypt, Senegal, Morocco, Tunisia, Congo DR, Burkina Faso, Uganda, Côte d'Ivoire
CONCACAF: Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, Honduras, USA, Trinidad and Tobago
CONMEBOL: Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Colombia, Peru, Chile, Paraguay
OFC: New Zealand
UEFA: Belgium, Germany, England, Spain, Poland, Iceland, Serbia, Portugal, France, Switzerland, Croatia, Sweden, Denmark, Italy, Northern Ireland, Slovakia

Final draw (all pots seeded by October 2013 FIFA ranking)

Pot 1: Russia, Germany, Brazil, Portugal, Argentina, Belgium, Poland, France, Spain, Chile, Peru, Switzerland, England, Colombia, Italy, Mexico
Pot 2: Uruguay, Croatia, Denmark, Iceland, Costa Rica, Northern Ireland, Slovakia, Sweden, USA, Tunisia, Egypt, Senegal, Iran, Congo DR, Paraguay, Serbia
Pot 3: Nigeria, Australia, Japan, Morocco, Panama, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Korea Republic, Saudi Arabia, Honduras, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Syria, Trinidad and Tobago, New Zealand
And here's a mock draw. Top two advance from each group.

Group A: Russia, Costa Rica, Japan
Group B: Peru, Denmark, Syria
Group C: Chile, Croatia, Côte d'Ivoire
Group D: Brazil, Iceland, Uzbekistan
Group E: Belgium, USA, Uganda
Group F: Italy, Senegal, Panama
Group G: Mexico, Slovakia, Morocco
Group H: England, Uruguay, Trinidad and Tobago
Group I: Colombia, Serbia, Nigeria
Group J: France, Paraguay, Burkina Faso
Group K: Argentina, Sweden, New Zealand
Group L: Poland, Iran, Honduras
Group M: Spain, Egypt, United Arab Emirates
Group N: Switzerland, Northern Ireland, Australia
Group O: Portugal, Congo DR, Saudi Arabia
Group P: Germany, Tunisia, Korea Republic

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. Um... there is a typo..
    You put Peru instead of Paraguay
    in the 'Global Playoff' section
    sorry and Thank you :)

  2. This mock draw is, in fact, fairly balanced for the most part, I'd say. While we would see some not-super-attractive matches such as Peru-Syria and Iran-Honduras, those wouldn't be much worse than, say, Panama-Tunisia (which we'll see in 2018) or Ecuador-Honduras (which we saw in 2014).

    Personally I'm not against the expansion in principle, though the format with 3-team groups is not my favourite one.

    See an article by a South African journalist:

    1. or Switzerland X Costa Rica, Sweden X South Korea or Iceland (?) X Nigeria

  3. Just my opinion, but they (FIFA) might as well have increased the tournament size to 64. That would've eliminated the 3 team group issue, given all teams at least 3 matches, and have added an 8th match to the overall schedule of 4 teams only. Seems a better compromise to what they eventually landed on. Not a fan of the slot allocations per zone either. I appreciate that it needs to be seen as a world-wide competition, but surely UEFA should have more than 16 slots. The strength and depth of that zone far outweighs any other.

    1. I too like the idea of a worldwide qualification, but is it actually fully feasible? A trip of an entire team and delegation to the other side of the world would be quite an issue for small impoverished countries. I guess a format involving still-localized preliminary rounds, with the best teams advancing to the global qualifiers, would be a good solution.

    2. Oops, sorry, Scott, I misread your comment - you don't actually mention global qualifications. My point remains though.

    3. A 64 Team World Cup with 4 teams per group makes for a 128 games. Good luck with organizing that.

    4. In response to the comment above the main issues with a 128 game WC would be staging around 6 to 8 games per day during the group stages and getting enough countries to bid jointly as a single country would most likely need 16 to 18 venues and games kicking off in the early morning. By splitting the WC into 2 or 3 regions each would essentially be holding a WC of similar size to the current tournament. THe other alternatives would be to hold the 64 team tournament as a straight knockout competition with the top 4 playing 6 matches as opposed to the current 7 matches.

  4. CONCACAF and CONMEBOL with the same number of allocated teams? That's absolutely terrible. Clearly a combined CONMEBOL-CONCACAF qualifier would ve fairer.

    1. Rightly or wrongly qualifying is about getting representation from all areas of the world rather than getting the best 32/48 teams into the World Cup. Having 2, 3 or 4 combined "americas" leagues in Qualifying would mean Brazil, Argentina and other big countries do not play each other which must mean less interest in qualifying and money for South American broadcasters.

    2. If representation was the main goal, surely Africa, N. America and Asia would have more slots in detriment of Europe and South America.

      I still think that the World Cup should be a representation of the best national teams around - of course with some leeway for representation.

      The best way of solving this would probably be less guaranteed slots per confederation and more places earned through intercontinental playoffs.

    3. Raf - IMO having the best teams means definitely sticking with the current 32 team format but reducing the number of teams from Africa, Asia and North America with World Playoffs with 12-32 teams for the last 6-8 spots.

  5. such a BS to give Europe just 2 places and Asia 3.5 and Concacaf new three places; wtf.

  6. Only Fair will be:
    Europe 21;
    Africa 9;
    Conmebol 6
    Concacaf 3.5
    Oceania 0.5
    AFC 5

    1. Definitely not the *only* fair way :)

      But according to ELO, it should be:

      Europe 26
      S. America 10
      N. America 4
      Africa 4
      Asia 4
      Oceania 0

      Of course, there should be international playoffs for the sake of it, so:

      Europe 25.5
      S. America 9.5
      N. America 3.5
      Africa 4.5
      Asia 4.5
      Oceania 0.5

      (Of course this is a stupid way to allocate - specially S. America getting all teams in it.)

      I guess the fairest way would be to have more intercontinental matches. Maybe some sort of mini-league with Representatives of all continents?

    2. problem using ELO list is that qualifications are so brutal in Europe in Africa some countries can't rise on the list as they are out of qualifications ( Africa) or lose interest ( Europe) as they are out in half of qualifications. South and North America should merge and just allocate them 8/9 places. But this BS with extra team from fu...g Asia or everyone in Concacaf who has a soccer filed is retarded. Just look this potential draw; who wants to watch Syria-Peru; Senegal-Panama Burkina Faso-Paraguay, Tunisia-Korea or Saudi-Congo at World Cup? We are missing on this World Cup Ireland, Italy, Ukraine, Greece, Netherlands, Bosnia, Slovakia, Romania, Turkey, Czech,...

    3. I am sure a LOT of people would like to see these matches, as the populations of Ecuador, Panama and Peru are much higher than most european countries cited.

      Much worse imo are matches involving Iceland or Switzerland.

  7. And just to add; 8 newly qualified Europe countries: Ireland, Italy, Ukraine, Greece, Netherlands, Bosnia, Slovakia and Czech.