Simulating the FIFA World Cup 2022 | by Abhinav Raghunathan | Dec, 2020

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Who does the data choose to win the largest international football tournament yet?

Abhinav Raghunathan
Image by Michal Jarmoluk from Pixabay.

Electronic Arts (the makers of the “FIFA” video game series) has made a lot of money from quantifying player skill. They have an entire methodology for numerically ranking every player that takes into account variables like weak-footed rating, shot accuracy, etc. For this study, I used their data from FIFA 20 (which came out in 2019).

The 32 qualifying teams (italicized teams qualified through special means).

The Group Stage is based on random draws. Each of the eight groups (A through H) will contain four teams (which are not known until the official FIFA World Cup 2022 drawing). To account for this randomness, I performed a Monte Carlo simulation in which I randomize the groups 5,000 times and get the probability of each team making it into the elimination round.

Percentage of the 5000 simulations in which each country advanced to the Round of 16.

To supplement my predictions for the most important of stages in the World Cup, I pulled some historical head-to-head data for each international team and used it in conjunction with the player data and the same randomness function as in the Group Stage to simulate the entire tournament.

Percentage of the 5000 simulations won by each country.

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