Science

World Cup: England has only a 7% chance of winning, scientists say

Just three days before England kick off their FIFA World Cup campaign against Iran, scientists have a rather pessimistic forecast. 

The experts, based at London’s Alan Turing Institute, say Gareth Southgate’s men have only a seven per cent chance of winning the World Cup for the first time since 1966. 

England is also 58.5 per cent likely to get to the quarter finals but only 31.7 per cent likely to get to the semi finals, the experts found – meaning the Three Lions will likely lose in the quarters. 

However, out of the 32 participating teams, England is the fifth mostly likely team to bring home the trophy, just behind the likes of France, Belgium and Brazil.  

Meanwhile, Wales, which is playing in its first World Cup since 1958, has only a 0.5 per cent chance of winning the tournament – and only a 46 per cent chance of making it out of the group stage. 

Brazil is most likely to win the World Cup this year, according to the team’s research. 

Is it coming home? Probably not, according to scientists. Pictured, England players look dejected after losing the Euro Championship final against Italy last year

Is it coming home? Probably not, according to scientists. Pictured, England players look dejected after losing the Euro Championship final against Italy last year

According to the results, the favourites to win the World Cup this year are Brazil (a 25 per cent chance of winning). Pictured is former Brazil team captain and defender Cafu with the World Cup trophy the last time the Brazil won the World Cup, June 29, 2002

According to the results, the favourites to win the World Cup this year are Brazil (a 25 per cent chance of winning). Pictured is former Brazil team captain and defender Cafu with the World Cup trophy the last time the Brazil won the World Cup, June 29, 2002

England is the fifth mostly likely team to bring home the trophy – behind the likes of favourites Brazil, Belgium, Argentina and current holders France

England is the fifth mostly likely team to bring home the trophy – behind the likes of favourites Brazil, Belgium, Argentina and current holders France

WHO WILL WIN THE WORLD CUP? 

Brazil – 25 per cent chance

Belgium – 18.9 per cent

Argentina – 13.2 per cent

France – 11 per cent

England – 7.1 per cent

Spain – 4.8 per cent

Netherlands – 4.7 per cent

Denmark – 3.1 per cent

Portugal – 3 per cent

Croatia – 1.9 per cent 

The experts used a statistical model that was trained on results from previous competitive and friendly matches since the start of the 2002 World Cup, to simulate the whole of this year’s tournament 100,000 times. 

According to the results, Brazil has a 25 per cent chance of winning the World Cup this year – a greater likelihood than any other team.

This is followed by Belgium (18.9 per cent), Argentina (13.2 per cent), France (11 per cent) and then England (7.1 per cent), the calculations reveal. 

Meanwhile, Australia, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Cameroon, Canada, Ghana and host nation Qatar have a resounding 0.0 per cent chance of winning the tournament, the experts say. 

‘Football can present lots of surprises and like any predictions, they’re not a guarantee of what the future will hold,’ said Dr Nick Barlow, senior research software engineer at the Alan Turing Institute and one of the team members.

‘But this was a fun project to work on and we’re looking forward to seeing how our predictions will look alongside the real results.’ 

Because England has a 58.5 per cent chance of getting to the quarter finals and a 31.7 per cent chance of getting to the semis, the law of probability suggests the quarters will be the point where the Three Lions crash out. 

Wales, meanwhile, has only a 46 per cent chance of getting out the group and a 22.1 per cent of reaching the round of 16.

The two home nations are both in Group B and will therefore face off on November 29, with a place in the round of 16 possibly at stake.

Brazil has a 25 per cent chance of winning the World Cup this year, followed by Belgium (18.9 per cent), Argentina (13.2 per cent), France (11 per cent) and then England (7.1 per cent)

Brazil has a 25 per cent chance of winning the World Cup this year, followed by Belgium (18.9 per cent), Argentina (13.2 per cent), France (11 per cent) and then England (7.1 per cent)

Ghana has a 8.5 per cent chance of reaching the round of 16, a 0.7 per cent chance of getting to the quarters, a 0.1 per cent chance of getting to the semis and zero chance of getting to the final

Ghana has a 8.5 per cent chance of reaching the round of 16, a 0.7 per cent chance of getting to the quarters, a 0.1 per cent chance of getting to the semis and zero chance of getting to the final

Wales, which is playing in its first World Cup since 1958, has only a 0.5 per cent chance of winning the tournament – and only a 46 per cent chance of making it out of the group stage. Pictured is Wales captain Gareth Bale celebrating after qualifying for the tournament in June this year

Wales, which is playing in its first World Cup since 1958, has only a 0.5 per cent chance of winning the tournament – and only a 46 per cent chance of making it out of the group stage. Pictured is Wales captain Gareth Bale celebrating after qualifying for the tournament in June this year

The experts say England has only a 7 per cent chance of winning the World Cup for the first time since 1966. Pictured, former England captain Bobby Moore is carried by his teammates as he holds the World Cup trophy, July 30, 1966

The experts say England has only a 7 per cent chance of winning the World Cup for the first time since 1966. Pictured, former England captain Bobby Moore is carried by his teammates as he holds the World Cup trophy, July 30, 1966

England and Wales are both in Group B, meaning they will play each other - on November 29. The academics predict that England has a better chance of progressing from the group - possibly at the expense of Wales. This graph shows the chances that each team makes it only as far as each given stage of the tournament. There's a 46 per cent chance for Wales of making it out of the group stage - but a 54 per cent chance

England and Wales are both in Group B, meaning they will play each other – on November 29. The academics predict that England has a better chance of progressing from the group – possibly at the expense of Wales. This graph shows the chances that each team makes it only as far as each given stage of the tournament. There’s a 54 per cent chance Wales won’t make it further than the group stage

QATAR 2022: FIRST SIX FIXTURES 

Sunday

Qatar vs Ecuador (4pm)

Monday

England vs Iran (1pm) 

Senegal vs Netherlands (4pm)

United States vs Wales (7pm)

Tuesday

Argentina vs Saudi Arabia (10am)

Denmark vs France (1pm)

Mexico vs Poland (4pm) 

France vs Australia (7pm) 

(All times are kick off in GMT) 

While host nation Qatar’s chances of winning the tournament are zero, its chances of getting out the group stage are relatively high – 24.5 per cent.

This is partly because the host nation at a World Cup are often buoyed by the strong support of their home crowd.  

Despite Croatia reaching the World Cup final four years ago, the scientists only give the ‘checkered ones’ a 5.7 per chance of doing so again – and a 69 per cent chance of getting out their group. 

Germany were World Cup champions in 2014 but they crashed out at the group stage four years ago following a memorable loss to South Korea.

As a result the Germans have a 63.2 per cent chance of getting out the group and just a 1.7 per cent chance of becoming world champions again in 2022. 

The team least likely to do well this year is Ghana – with an 8.5 per cent chance of reaching the round of 16, 0.7 per cent chance of getting to the quarters, a 0.1 per cent chance of getting to the semis and zero chance of getting to the final. 

Meanwhile, Spain, which won the tournament in 2010 with a late goal against the Netherlands, has a 76.8 per cent chance of getting out their group. 

This is less than England, Brazil, Belgium, Argentina, France, the Netherlands and Portugal. 

At the age of 35, Argentina captain Lionel Messi, often considered the greatest player of all time, may only have one last shot at becoming a world champion.

But the model only gave the South American country a 13.2 chance of winning, despite a 23.5 per cent chance of getting to the final.  

This will be Lionel Messi's fifth World Cup - and perhaps the last chance for one of the game's greatest players to be crowned world champion

This will be Lionel Messi’s fifth World Cup – and perhaps the last chance for one of the game’s greatest players to be crowned world champion 

The team’s statistical model is based on AIrsenal, a machine learning manager for Fantasy Premier League developed in 2018, although it was modified to make it more suited to predicting international results.

For example, international teams most often play teams from the same continent – Brazil hasn’t played any European teams since 2019 – which can result in biases when trying to predict results between teams from different continents. 

‘To address this, we introduced model parameters for the relative strengths of the different continental federations,’ the team said.

‘We also needed to tweak our model to account for the fact that home advantage doesn’t apply in international tournaments, unless the host nation is playing.’ 

The experts said they were inspired by Paul the Octopus, a cephalopod at the Sea Life Centre in Germany that became a media sensation 12 years ago. 

Paul predicts Spain's victory in their 2010 World Cup semi-final soccer match against Germany by choosing a mussel, from a glass box decorated with the Spanish national flag instead of a glass box with the German flag, at the Sea Life Aquarium in the western German city of Oberhausen July 6, 2010

Paul predicts Spain’s victory in their 2010 World Cup semi-final soccer match against Germany by choosing a mussel, from a glass box decorated with the Spanish national flag instead of a glass box with the German flag, at the Sea Life Aquarium in the western German city of Oberhausen July 6, 2010

Paul correctly predicted the results of all seven of Germany’s matches in the 2010 World Cup, and also accurately chose Spain as the tournament winner. 

Unfortunately, Paul died shortly after becoming famous, but the researchers will be following this year’s results closely to see if the statistical model can do as good a job. 

This is the first time Alan Turing Institute experts have performed such research using this model, so it has no track record – yet. 

The new research follows similar results published earlier this month by European academics, whose statistical models also found Brazil to be the favourites. 

England has just a 7.4 per cent chance of winning the World Cup and will likely crash out in the quarter finals, their results predicted. 

MAILONLINE REVEALS THE NEW TECHNOLOGIES POWERING THE FIFA WORLD CUP IN QATAR 

Football fans now have only a few more days of waiting to endure before the men’s FIFA World Cup finally commences in Qatar. 

After an agonising four-and-a-half-year gap since the last tournament, the host nation will kick off Qatar 2022 on Sunday against Ecuador in Al Khor.

England, meanwhile, play their fist match against Iran the following day, as Gareth Southgate’s men seek to finally bring it home after 56 years of hurt at the World Cup final on December 18. 

This year, players and fans alike will see a host of new technologies that have never been seen at a FIFA World Cup. 

Technologies at the FIFA World Cup this year include AI-powered limb-tracking, an official ball embedded with a sensor, sensory viewing rooms and a demountable stadium inspired by Lego

Technologies at the FIFA World Cup this year include AI-powered limb-tracking, an official ball embedded with a sensor, sensory viewing rooms and a demountable stadium inspired by Lego

Here’s a look at the innovations at Qatar 2022, from AI-powered limb-tracking to a demountable stadium inspired by Lego.

Read more 


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