Over the years, Match Simulator has collected the data of more than 20 million simulated matches in our database. Could we use this data to predict the World Cup 2022 winner?
For the first time, we are going to use this data to make a prediction about the upcoming World Cup 2022. Based on the official World Cup preset, we can make an overview of the amount of times countries reach the final and who has the power to best their opponent in this match.
But first, let’s investigate how reliable such a prediction would be. For the World Cup 2014 and World Cup 2018, we can apply the same method, but there we already know the outcome: Germany and France won in respectively 2014 and 2018.World Cup 2014
Looking at the World Cup 2014, 315 cups have been completed from the official WC 2014 preset. A clear favourite came out in the end: the actual winners Germany. In 24.8% of the cups, the Germans won the tournament, whilst reaching the final in 39% of them. In second was Spain, taking the gold in 19.7% of the cups and reaching the final in 31.4%. In real life, however, Spain got knocked out in the group stage by Louis van Gaal’s Netherlands and Chile.
The opponents of Germany in the World Cup final of 2014, Argentina, are the third favourites. In 25.4% of the cups they reached the final, where they won slightly more than half of the time: 13.3%.
The biggest surprises were Greece (won the cup once), Bosnia (1 gold, 3 silver) and Switzerland (1 gold, 10 silver). In real life, Greece ended up in the round of 16 (knocked out in penalty shootout against Costa Rica), Bosnia got no further than the group stage and Switzerland also peaked at the round of 16, getting knocked out by Argentina.
The following distribution is the result of all 315 cup results. The gold bar represents the amount of times a country won the final, the silver bar represents how often the silver was the highest achievable result.
World Cup 2018
The World Cup 2018 has a slightly larger dataset of 441 finished cups. However, the distribution of the winners is a lot less clear. The top 3 consists of Brazil (17.5% won, 30.2% finalist) , Spain (16.3% won, 28.8% finalist) and France (15.6% won, 27.2% finalist). In real life, Brazil got knocked out in the quarter-finals by Belgium. Hosts Russia bested Spain in the round of 16 in a penalty shootout. France took on Croatia in the final, and won quite easily. According to the data, Croatia only had a 8.4% chance to reach the final, and 3.6% to win it all.
There are several things to take into account when determining the accuracy of these predictions. First of all, the player ratings and therefore the team ratings are all based on EASports FIFA’s database. Therefore, the extent to which they accurately assessed the players impacts their country’s chance of winning it all.
Secondly, mods could have been used in several cups, possibly resulting in boosted players or teams. Finally, the World Cup knockout stage goes according to a specific order, e.g. the winner of group A plays against the winner of group B. After that, the winner of Round of 16 #1 plays against the winner of Round of 16 #2. This impacts a team’s chance of winning, because there could be more difficult routes to the final for one team than for the other. For example, in the World Cup 2018, one could argue that the reason Croatia got to the final was partly due to their easier fixtures. With regards to the results in this article, we are fairly certain that most of the cups did not take these specific routes into account, but rather used randomly generated fixtures.
Having said all that, let’s have a look at the distribution for the World Cup 2022!World Cup 2022
A total of 1281 cups has been used for this distribution. After the World Cup victory of 2018, France are now favourites with a 18.3% chance to take the gold, and a 30.3% chance to reach the final. Interestingly enough, Germany are second: 15.1% chance for the win, with a 26.3% chance of at least a silver medal. Brazil is a close third, reaching the final 24.2% of the time and winning 13.7% of the cups. England, Portugal and Spain seem very equal outsiders for the title, winning the title around 11% of the time. Although Argentina are real-life favourites, they only have a 6.9% chance of winning gold according to this data. The Netherlands and Belgium are the dark horses for this year’s edition, winning around 5% of the time and having slightly more than 10% chance to reach the final.
Which country could surprise us then? Canada and Japan have surprisingly won the gold medal once, Australia and Wales got as far as a silver medal. The United States reached the final 3 times, but lost all of those. Starting with Mexico, we see some countries that could realistically transcend themselves. Mexico, Poland, Morocco, Denmark, Senegal and Serbia are all countries that could turn a few heads, while Uruguay and Croatia are always dangerous.Conclusion
Based on the data, France are the favourites to win the World Cup 2022. Of course, they have an incredible squad, but many believe that they will suffer the winner's curse. And with Benzema's injury, they lose an incredibly important asset.
So, could it yet again be the Germans? They have not impressed in the last years, but can you ever really exclude them? It might just be possible that Flick leads them to an unexpected result. The data believes so as well, turning Germany into second favourites.
The public opinion, however, lists Brazil as the ultimate favourites for this edition. The Match Simulator only has them third, but if both Germany and France fail to get the most out of their squad, Brazil might indeed have the best chance to take the gold home after many disappointing years.
In 2014, the Match Simulator predicted the winner correctly, in 2018 the third favourites won the cup. Could the Match Simulator be on to something?
What do you think? Let us know in the comments who you think will win this World Cup and see if you can do better than many simulations!