Which teams will succeed in groups A and B?

In this post we forecast the outcomes of groups A and B during the 2018 FIFA World Cup™. Group A consists of the host Russia, Uruguay, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Group B consists of Spain, the current European champion Portugal, Morocco and Iran.  Russia and Uruguay seem to be the favourites in group A. However,  it is not obvious at first glance how the chances can be expressed quantitatively and with what probabilities these teams will reach the round of 16;  with Egypt and its Liverpool striker Salah there is space for surprises.

Spain and Portugal are the clear favourites in group B. However, Portugal  demonstrated during the last European cup that wins in the group phase are not guaranteed and that the chances of an early drop out are not negligible.

We use a statistical model that  relies on the matches of the participating teams since 2010. It allows us to simulate each game in dependence of each team’s individual strength and weakness in attack and defence; for more details see A more sophisticated forecast model. We have obtained the following probabilities for group A:

Team 1st 2nd 3rd 4th
Russia 20 % 29 % 36 % 15 %
Uruguay 57 % 26 % 14 % 3 %
Egypt 21 % 39 % 29 % 11 %
Saudi Arabia 1 % 6 % 22 % 71 %

This table describes the probability that a specific team becomes First, Second, Third or Last in the group. Note that due to rounding the columns do not necessarily sum up to 1.

A click on the above picture leads to an interactive java-script version.

The probabilities for group B are as follows:

Team 1st 2nd 3rd 4th
Spain 62 % 28 % 8 % 2 %
Portugal 30 % 46 % 18 % 6 %
Morocco 5 % 14 % 34 % 47 %
Iran 3 % 13 % 40 % 44 %


A click on the above picture leads to an interactive java-script version.


Uruguay is favourite to win group A, while vice-African champion Egypt seems to have slightly higher chances to reach the round of 16 than Russia. In group B Spain is more favoured than Portugal, and Morocco and Iran are clear underdogs.