Achilles the psychic cat and Mystic Marcus the pig have both had a crack at predicting the outcomes of the World Cup. Marcus has already been exposed as a fraud, as Argentina and Nigeria have both crashed out of the tournament early, despite the psychic piggy’s claim that they would both be in the semi-finals.
Paul Merson and other former-pros have also shown themselves to be unreliable at predicting the outcome of Russia 2018, so who do we turn to for insight then? There’s only one clear choice, the cult-game Football Manager.
The Sports Interactive game features such in-depth statistical information on players, that professional clubs have used the game’s database to help them with scouting. Now the game has predicted the outcome of this year’s World Cup and here we take a look at how accurate it has been so far.
The first two groups predicted by FM were pretty much spot-on; Uruguay, Russia, Portugal and Spain were all tipped to get out of their group, with the only error being that Portugal finished above Spain in Group B.
Group C was where the game came unstuck, France was rightfully predicted as group winners but Peru pipped Denmark to second-spot. In Group D Argentina convincingly topped the pile with 3 wins from 3 and Croatia finished runners-up.
So far, so good...ish. Let’s see what the rest of the groups looked like.
Current World Cup favourites Brazil qualified from Group E along with Switzerland and Belgium and England were successfully predicted as 1st and 2nd in Group H. But that’s where the accuracy stops. Mexico, Germany, Poland and Japan all qualified from their groups.
Germany and Poland both suffered shock exits in real-life at the expense of Colombia and Sweden, so the game was slightly off there, but in fairness who would have predicted the defending Champions to exit at the group stage?
Round of 16
This is where the tournament traditionally heats up and in the Football Manager simulation Uruguay were the first team to leave after losing 3-1 to Spain. Cristiano Ronaldo condemned the hosts Russia to defeat in the second game.
In reality, neither Spain nor Portugal won their round of 16 clashes whilst both Uruguay and Russia did. France went through in Football Manager after a penalty shoot-out against Croatia, whilst Brazil and Germany snuck past Mexico and Switzerland in their clashes.
Poland bettered England 3-2 and Belgium sailed past Japan with a 3-1 win, whilst Peru pulled of the shock of the round, beating Argentina 3-1. From the evidence so far, it appears that Football Manager’s predictions aren’t much better than Marcus the pigs.
Spain sailed past Peru 4-0 in the first quarter-final and was joined in the semi-finals by France after a narrow 1-0 win over Portugal. Belgium upset the apple-cart with a 2-0 victory against Brazil and Germany reached the semi-finals, beating Poland by the same scoreline.
Spain, Germany, Belgium and France made up the semi-finalists. The Red Devils squeaked past Spain with a 1-0 win as France cruised past Germany 2-0 setting up a mouth-watering final clash. In the third-place play-off Spain surprisingly triumphed on penalties over Die Mannschaft.
Kyllian Mbappe started the scoring for Les Blues, but unfortunately for him, it was in his own net. Spurs man Moussa Dembele struck the knock-out blow as he fired Belgium into an unassailable lead and secured their first-ever World Cup victory.
So there we have it, according to Football Manager Belgium will lift the Jules Rimmet trophy in mid-July after a comfortable win over France in the final. That possibility is still very much on the cards, but don’t forget the game simulation had already eliminated Spain and Germany in the semi-finals.
So maybe the game isn’t as reliable as first thought. The best place to look for a solid indicator on the World Cup? The bookies. Apart from the notable exception of Leicester, they very rarely get it wrong and almost all of them are tipping Brazil to triumph.