We at Grey Area, have begun our coverage of the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Russia over the past week. Numbers are in my blood, so I did what I do and tried to use the last 4 years of football results to predict what’s going to happen in Group A.
I simulated each game in the group 10,000 times using a simple formula that I found here. I’d have preferred to do this with some xG data but unfortunately, I don’t have access to enough good data.
So anyway, here are the chances of qualification for each team in the group.
Uruguay should top the group.
Russia are terrible. Saudi Arabia play in Asia, so, they play easier teams than Russia do, hence the numbers like them more, but in Salem Al-Dawsari, Fahad Al-Muwallad, Nawaf Al-Abed and Mohammed Al-Sahlawi they should have enough fire power to see off the Russians. Unlike the rest of the tournament, I think this group will go down to goals scored and no Asian team scored more goals than Saudi Arabia.
The only questionable one here is the Lord and Saviour, Mo Salah, and his Egyptian team. Since, I do make the differentiation between the value of home goals and away goals in my calculation and thus, this notoriously-terrible-away-from-home Egyptian team is poorly rated. In their 4 world cup qualifiers away from home, Egypt won just 1 game. They were 100% at home however, scoring 9 in their four games. Can Mo Salah drag them through the group?
Onto individual match predictions,
Russia vs Egypt is a tough one to call. Russians will defend deep and the numbers are not confident that Mo Salah will get the service he deserves, but, numbers don't do players like him justice. So, I'm going to say this will most likely be a boring draw.
For reasons mentioned above, Saudi Arabia are favorites going into the game against Egypt and Russia, but, Mo Salah. Can the fleet footed Saudis work their magic against the African giants, and, the hosts? I think the Saudi Arabia games will decide the fate of this group.
Uruguay should win all 3 of their games but I expect that they will pull an Uruguay and make it hard for themselves.
Finishing probability by position in the group,
This should be a fascinating group. At Grey Area, we have also a preview for each team. You can find those below
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