Russia 2018 World Cup

Who’s favourite to survive round one of the World Cup?


With the final draw made the teams are now ready to fight for their chance to keep their nation’s dreams alive in the world’s ultimate soccer battle. Here is a study of the protagonists’ strengths and records followed by our predictions of how likely they are to make it through to the next round

We took the historical records, along with each team’s current Fifa ranking (November, 2017), to create a power index. Then we faced each team off against their group rivals and... well, draw your own conclusions as to how your team are likely to fare

Group A

  • Russia
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Egypt
  • Uruguay

The Russians best World Cup was a fourth place in England, 1966 (then competing as the Soviet Union), but it seems the numbers are not in their favour this time

This is the power accumulated through history by each national team. The cooler the box colour, the better the performance. Empty spaces indicate periods when the team ranked outside Fifa’s top 50

The combination of historical rankings and which country a team faces sets the probability each team has of staying alive. Here are the chances:

Best chance to move on

  • Russia 16.9%
  • Saudi Arabia 4.6%
  • Egypt 33.6% ★
  • Uruguay 96.3% ★

Let's take a look at the situation for the other groups. Remember, the cooler the box colour, the stronger the team, while empty spaces indicate a team dropping outside the top 50

Group B

The Europeans are the favourites here – Portugal rank third and Spain sixth in Fifa’s November monthly report. The Spanish team still have fresh memories of the 2010 World Cup when they took the cup home

  • Portugal
     43.2% ★
  • Spain
     60.1% ★
  • Morocco 4.6%
  • Iran 10.2%

Group C

Once again Europeans are the favourites. According to the historical records France have the most consistent team. As the most solid candidates we can expect them to march into the next round, but this is based on probability – anything is possible in soccer

  • France
     83.2% ★
  • Australia 4.6%
  • Peru 17.4%
  • Denmark
     40.8% ★

Group D

The South Americans lead the charge in this group with Croatia in second place

  • Argentina
     99.0% ★
  • Iceland 14.8%
  • Croatia
     43.9% ★
  • Nigeria 4.6%

Group E

The Brazilians are not just favourites for this group but they are also expected to lift the cup. Switzerland have the second best numbers, but Costa Rica were a surprise in the last World Cup leaving English and Italian dreams in tatters. Serbia are dark horses having developed excellently since officially joining Fifa on December 16, 2005, when they debuted at 47

  • Brazil 83.2% ★
  • Switzerland 40.7% ★
  • Costa Rica 12.8%
  • Serbia 4.6%

Group F

Even a cursory glance at the records for the first three teams reveals how competitive this group will be. Perhaps this group will provide the most intense battles in the first round

  • Germany 78.4% ★
  • Mexico 42.6% ★
  • Sweden 31.4%
  • South Korea 4.6%

Group G

Panama are one of the teams making a first World Cup appearance. Their inauguration will be against Belgium who qualified through Uefa undefeated

  • Belgium 98.4% ★
  • Panama 4.6%
  • Tunisia 28.8%
  • England 66.2% ★

Group H

There’s very little in it, but the numbers would suggest the South American team have a slight edge. A good show should be guaranteed in every match for these teams

  • Poland 60.1% ★
  • Senegal 15.9%
  • Colombia 61.2% ★
  • Japan 4.6%

Working out the favourites by calculating the most accurate statistics for each team is just part of the fun for this world fest. All will be revealed next June, when the 32 teams fight it out, proving or confounding the numbers along the way

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