It has been 20 years since Ronaldinho, Cafu, and their Brazilian teammates brought the 2002 World Cup to South America. Since then, no team outside of Europe has won the most prestigious team trophy in all of sport. But if a Swarm of fans of international soccer is correct, it’s possible that 2022 could be the year to break that cycle.
The 2022 World Cup is perhaps the most unique in the history of the competition. Because of the hot-weather setting in Qatar, the Cup will be contested in November and December of this year, rather than the traditional summer timing of the tournament. This means that all professional leagues throughout the world have had to put their respective seasons on pause for six weeks to allow players to compete in the World Cup, and could create some interesting unintended side-effects on the pitch.
To untangle this year’s competition, earlier this week a Swarm AI system populated with dedicated fans of the beautiful game was first tasked with evaluating all eight groups to determine which 16 teams were most likely to advance to the knockout stage of the competition. After narrowing the field in this manner, the Swarm then ranked those 16 teams in order of likelihood to hoist the Cup in December.
As the chart shows, the Swarm didn’t find too many big upsets in the group stage this year. That fits a narrative where the unique mid-season placement of the World Cup this year may favor deeper teams and traditional powers. It’s in the knockout rounds where the Swarm predicts things will really take off.
The Swarm’s top two most likely picks to win the 2022 Cup are either a loaded, high-octane Brazilian side (currently ranked first in the world by FIFA) or a strong and deep Argentinian contingent who may be playing to get Leo Messi the silverware in what is surely his final competition. If these two South American rivals win their respective groups, they could meet in a semifinal match that might go down in Cup history. Swarm analysis would place the winner of that match as a strong favorite in the final, and an end to two decades of European domination at the tournament.
If a European team is to keep its streak going, a deep French team (who look dangerous even without Paul Pogba and Ngolo Kante), an experienced Belgian side looking to win it all with their aging Golden Generation, and an upstart, pressuring German side look to be the likeliest candidates.
If you’re a bettor who is looking at teams where the Swarm differs the most with international oddsmakers, the Swarm favors both Germany and Belgium more than the sportsbooks do. On the flip side of that equation, the Swarm thinks the 2010 finalists – The Netherlands and Spain – might both underperform expectations.
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