World Cup 2018 UEFA Qualifying Group E: Predicting One of the More Unpredictable Groups of the Bunch
Same as qualifying Group D, the UEFA’s Group E—drawn for the 2018 World Cup qualifying competition—is not easy to predict. Group D—with a lineup that includes Wales, Austria, Serbia, Republic of Ireland, Moldova, and Georgia—has no real “heavyweight” contender, but is said to favor Wales and Austria thanks to strong performances in recent 2016 European Championship qualifiers. World Cup 2018 UEFA Qualifying Group E is similar, in that none of its six teams—Romania, Denmark, Poland, Armenia, and Kazakhstan—are clear frontrunners for World Cup qualification. The question then becomes how we go about predicting the outcome of a seemingly unpredictable group.
Group E’s Teams at the World Cup
Qualifying Group E is tough to get a handle on because none of these six teams have considerable experience at the World Cup. Often, the easiest way to predict World Cup qualifications is to see which countries have had a presence at FIFA’s global soccer tournament in the past, as well as at which countries have done well in recent years. The vast majority of every World Cup lineup can be called just by looking at recent history.
For E, the safest bet for qualification might be Romania, who have appeared in seven of the 20 Cups played since FIFA established the event in 1930. Romania played at the very first tournament (as well as in 1934) before vanishing from the event until finally qualifying again in 1970.
The Romanian national football team enjoyed their most consistent period of World Cup appearances in the 1990s, qualifying for all three incarnations of the tournament that were held that decade (1990, 1994, and 1998), and reaching the knockout stages in all three. 1994 was their best year at the tournament, as they beat out Argentina to reach the quarterfinals, before being eliminated by Sweden in a match that came down to a 5-4 penalty kick shootout.
Denmark is the other qualification possibility in E. They’ve participated in four Cups over the years, first in 1986 and most recently in 2010. Their first three campaigns at the tournament were fairly successful, with the Danish soccer squad reaching the round of 16 in 1986 and 2002, and the quarterfinals in 1998. Unfortunately, Denmark’s most recent World Cup performance was their worst (they lost two of their three group stage matches in 2010), and they failed to qualify in 2014.
The rest of Group E seem unlikely to qualify. The Poland national football team were a strong World Cup force in the 1970s and 80s, finishing in third place in both 1974 and 1982. They’ve lost a step or two since, missing out on berths in the 2010 and 2014 tournaments, and failing to get beyond the group stage in 2002 and 2006. Montenegro, Armenia, and Kazakhstan, meanwhile, have never qualified.
Euro 2016 Qualifiers and FIFA World Rankings
Romania, it seems, are also FIFA’s pick to advance from Group E. The football team is currently slotted in seventh place in FIFA’s rankings, sandwiched between Portugal and England. Their strong Euro 2016 qualifying campaign is likely the reason for the lofty ranking, as the Romanian soccer squad is currently undefeated (with four wins and two draws) in that competition. They are expected to win their Euro qualifying group, which also includes Northern Ireland, Italy, Hungary, the Faroe Islands, Finland, and Greece.
Denmark and Poland, meanwhile, are expected to fight for second place in World Cup 2018 UEFA qualifying group E. Denmark has the better FIFA ranking at the moment (25th, versus Poland’s 33rd), but the Polish football squad have shown better stats in recent Euro qualifying games (Poland are ahead of Germany in their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign, while Denmark are trailing behind Portugal in theirs).
Which teams do you think will earn spots in the 2018 World Cup? Pick up a new Poland jersey 2014 – 2015 or Denmark football shirt at Soccer Box to support your favorite country, then follow Soccer Box on social media to get continued updates about Euro and WC qualifiers, and to discuss predictions and outcomes with other fans! You can find Soccer Box on multiple social networks including Facebook, Pinterest, and Tumblr.