Our previous FM Experiment tested which team would win World Cup 2022 according to Football Manager 2023. But – mainly due to the fact that USA reached the previous final – we wanted to test which country was most likely to win the World Cup based on a few more trial runs.
So we used the same save file as the previous experiment, which only has the leagues from a team not at the World Cup but loads all international players from all continents. Then we simulated the World Cup nine more times to give us a pool of 10 World Cups.
This is what Football Manager 2023 believes is most likely to happen at World Cup 2022…
10 World Cup 2022 Simulations
World Cup Simulation 1
In our first experiment, Brazil won the World Cup with a 1-0 win over USA. France and Switzerland made it to the semi-finals, while Portugal and Holland finished bottom of their groups.
World Cup Simulation 2
Previous simulation finalists USA were knocked out in the group stage by Wales. The biggest shock saw France finish bottom of their group, which was topped by Australia, while Belgium were knocked out by Canada. More shocks followed in round 2 as England lost on penalties to Senegal, Croatia beat fake team FC Germany and Switzerland beat Portugal on penalties. The goals flowed in the quarters as Senegal pulled off a massive upset to beat Argentina 4-3. Poland beat Holland 3-2, Spain beat Switzerland on penalties after a 2-2 draw and Brazil beat Croatia 5-3.
The semi-finals had a strange look about them as Spain beat Poland 2-1 in extra-time before Brazil beat Senegal 2-0. Brazil became World Champions again the second time around, defeating Spain 3-0 in the final with goals from Phillipe Coutinho, Casemiro and Vinícius Júnior.
Robert Lewandowski was the top scorer with 10 goals, Neymar led the assists with 4 and Kevin De Bruyne had the highest average rating of 8.03. Lewandowski won Best Player, Ederson was Best Goalkeeper and Gvardiol was Best Young Player.
World Cup Simulation 3
There were fewer surprises this time around, with the biggest group stage exits being Switzerland and Uruguay, while Wales lost all three group games. France hammered Argentina 4-0 in round 2 and Brazil needed extra-time to defeat South Korea. Then in the quarters, Mexico beat Holland 2-0, Brazil edged past Belgium 3-2, free-scoring France thumped England 4-1 and Spain beat Portugal 2-1.
In the semis, France beat Spain 3-1 then Mexico pulled off a huge shock to beat Brazil 2-1 in extra-time. France went into the final as massive favourites and took the lead through Mbappé but goals from Raúl Jiménez and Luis Romo saw Mexico become World Champions!
Mbappé top-scored with 10 goals and got the top average rating of 8.21, while Neymar was again top assister with 8. Mbappé was named Best Player followed by Neymar and Viní Jr., who’s come 3rd in all 3 simulations so far! Gvardiol was Best Young Player and Gillermo Ochoa won Best Goalkeeper.
World Cup Simulation 4
Winners last time Mexico went out in the group stage. The biggest surprises were Iran winning their group by beating USA and Wales then drawing 0-0 with England and hosts Qatar qualifying with two wins. The second round served up a couple of tasty clashes as France beat Argentina 3-2 in extra-time then Iran beat Qatar 3-1. England breezed past Poland 3-0 in the quarter-finals, while Brazil beat Belgium 2-1 in extra-time, France beat Iran 2-1 and Spain beat Switzerland on penalties after a 1-1 draw.
It was penalties central in the semis as England progressed after a 1-1 draw with Brazil and Spain knocked out France after a 2-2 draw. An edgy final was 0-0 until the 81st minute when England were awarded a penalty and Harry Kane brought it home!
Mbappé was better than ever with 13 goals and an 8.29 average rating, so unsurprisingly won Best Player. Gvardiol was Best Young Player again, Aaron Ramsdale won Best Goalkeeper and came 3rd in the Best Player award and Raphinha topped the assists with 5.
World Cup Simulation 5
The group stages again served up few shocks, but Wales progressed from their group with a -2 goal difference. Brazil failed to progress to the semi-finals for the first time as they lost on penalties to Portugal. Morocco caused a huge upset as they beat Spain 1-0 and Argentina and France met again but this time Argentina won 3-1. The quarters saw Holland beat Denmark 1-0, Morocco continue their unlikely run with a 3-2 win over Uruguay, Argentina beat England 1-0 and Portugal down Belgium 2-1.
The semi-finals saw Holland narrowly defeat Morocco 2-1 before an even tighter game ended 0-0 between Portugal and Argentina, who nicked it on penalties. And Holland claimed their first-ever World Cup success with a 2-0 defeat of Argentina with goals from Cody Gakpo and Donny van der Beek.
Kane was top scorer with 6 goals, followed by the unlikely duo of Alexsander Mitrovic (5) and Brennan Johnson (4), and Phil Foden had the best average rating of 8.00. But Depay led the assists with 5 and won Best Player, followed by teammates Denzel Dumfries and Frenkie de Jong. Jude Bellingham won Best Young Player and Diogo Costa was Best Goalkeeper.
World Cup Simulation 6
The biggest surprise of the group stage was Costa Rica qualifying for the first time, sending Spain home in the process. Portugal were also going home early as South Korea topped Group H. England hammered Qatar 4-0, Belgium put 5 past Costa Rica, Uruguay beat Brazil 3-2 and South Korea beat Switzerland 2-0. In the quarters, Holland edged past Denmark 2-1, Uruguay beat Belgium 1-0, France beat England 2-1 after extra-time and surprise package South Korea beat Croatia 2-0.
The favourites progressed through the semis as Holland thumped Uruguay 4-1 and France narrowly beat South Korea 2-1. France defended their world crown for the first time in this experiment, beating Holland 2-1 through Antoine Griezmann and Karim Benzema strikes before a late Steven Berghuis consolation.
Son Heung-Min was the star man of the tournament, scoring 10 goals followed by Luis Suarez’s 7, which is a bit random. Antoine Griezmann finally popped up with the highest average rating of 8.12, but Son won Best Player. Poland’s Nicola Zalewski won Best Young Player, Holland’s Mark Flekken won Best Goalkeeper and Mohamed Kudus topped the assists with 4.
World Cup Simulation 7
Qatar and Iran both qualified from their groups but Portugal again exited early with Ghana winning their group and Germany also went home early. Plenty of goals in round 2 included Holland beating Iran 3-0, England needing extra-time to beat Qatar 3-1, Croatia beating Spain 3-2 and and boring Switzerland putting four past South Korea. But the shock of the round saw Poland beat France 3-1. In the quarters, Holland beat Argentina on penalties after drawing 2-2, Switzerland returned to type with a 1-0 extra-time win over Croatia, England beat Poland 2-0 and Brazil beat Belgium 2-1.
Holland again won out on penalties in the semis as they knocked out Switzerland after a 1-1 draw then a massive result saw England hammer Brazil 4-1 led by a Phil Foden brace. Switzerland came third by beating Brazil on penalties after a tedious 0-0 draw. In the Final, a Kane penalty had England looking good until Danny Blind’s 89th-minute equaliser. And Holland, yet again, won on penalties, after England (Kane and Foden) missed two out of three spot-kicks!
If I gave you 100 guesses I guarantee you wouldn’t get this World Cup simulation’s Best Player award. England right-back Kyle Walker was the unusual winner following his 7.59 average rating, which was well short of Mbappé and Neymar (8.15 and 8.12). His teammates Kane and Foden came 2nd and 3rd. Yann Sommer won Best Goalkeeper, Pedri was Best Young Player and Joakim Maehle had the most assists with 4.
World Cup Simulation 8
A huge upset saw Holland knocked out in a group topped by hosts Qatar, while Portugal qualified for a change. Qatar continued to impress, beating USA 2-1 in round 2 before the tie of the round saw Argentina edge holders France 1-0. Belgium and Portugal beat Germany and Brazil on penalties and Croatia dumped out Spain 5-2. Qatar’s run ended at the quarters as they lost 3-0 to Poland, while Croatia beat South Korea 3-1, Argentina again won a big game 1-0 against England and Portugal beat Belgium 1-0.
A strange semi-final lineup saw Croatia reach consecutive finals by beating Poland 2-0. They were joined by Portugal, who won the Cristiano Ronaldo v Lionel Messi clash by dominating Argentina 3-0. The final saw Croatia and Portugal share 35 shots but draw 0-0. But Croatia finally found the net in the 105th minute through Mislav Orsic. But Ronaldo had 2 goals disallowed by VAR… can you imagine the scenes?
Lewandowski got his 2nd Golden Boot of the simulation with 8 goals, followed by Romelu Lukaku and Andrej Kramaric (both 6). And the Pole also won Best Player, followed by Costa and Marcelo Brozovic. Ivan Perisic had the best average rating of 8.15 and Zalewski got the most assists with 4. Gvardiol was Best Young Player, Costa won Best Goalkeeper.
World Cup Simulation 9
Big group stage surprises saw Mexico knock out Argentina and Serbia knock out Brazil on goal difference. In round 2, Croatia beat Spain on penalties, Switzerland battered Portugal 4-1 and fake players Germany beat Belgium 2-1 after extra-time to reach the quarters for the first time in any of these simulations. In the quarters, a big game saw France beat Holland 2-0 after extra-time, then Croatia thumped Switzerland 4-1. And two edgy games saw England beat Denmark 1-0 after extra-time and Uruguay beat Germany 1-0.
The semis saw a repeat of the 2018 Final as France beat Croatia 2-0. England managed to draw 2-2 with Uruguay despite having 25 shots to 8, but won a terrible penalty shootout that saw 5 out of 10 penalties missed but Eric Dier kept his cool with England’s fifth. That served up a huge Final as England took on France. The 90 minutes disappointed in a 0-0 draw but it came to life in extra-time as Foden and James Ward-Prowse scored twice in 6 minutes only for Olivier Giroud and Mbappé to do the same. That took it to penalties again and Griezmann missed France’s third while England scored all 5 to become World Champions.
Mbappé returned to the top of the scoring charts with 8 goals, followed by Kane’s 7 and Kramaric’s 5. And he won Best Player, despite his 7.77 average rating being short of Lewandowski’s 7.95, ahead of Kane and Foden. Bellingham won Best Young Player, Ramsdale the Best Goalkeeper and Aurelien Tchouameni got the most assists with 4, again/
World Cup Simulation 10
This was probably the most straightforward group stage so far with no major exits to report. But a massive shock in round 2 saw England dumped out 2-1 by Ecuador, who won it with an 88th-minute penalty. Portugal beat Brazil 2-1, Spain hammered Belgium 4-1 and fake Germany beat Croatia 1-0 after extra-time. A big quarter-final clash saw Holland beat Argentina 3-0, while Spain edged Switzerland 1-0, France beat Ecuador 3-1 and Portugal thumped Germany 3-0.
Two tense semis saw Spain and Holland draw 1-1 but the Spaniards progressed on penalties, then France beat Portugal 2-1. The Final was equally tight and looked destined to end 0-0 until Benjamin Pavard’s cross found Karim Benzema to head home a 94th-minute winner.
No prizes for guessing who was the Best Player as Mbappé scored 6 and got a 7.60 average rating, followed by Benzema and de Jong. However, Kane had the best average rating of 7.72 and Ferland Mendy got the most assists with 4. Bellingham won Best Young Player again and Flekken was the Best Goalkeeper.
FM23 World Cup 2022 Trends
According to FM23, the team most likely to win World Cup 2022 is tied between Brazil, England, France and Holland, who all won 2 of our 10 simulations. The outliers were Mexico and Croatia, who both won 1 each – with Mexico winning it the only time they advanced to the quarter-final stage! Spain reached the Final 3 times and lost every time, while France lost 2 Finals and Argentina, England, Holland, Portugal and USA all lost 1.
France reached the semi-finals 6 times, followed by Brazil (5), Holland and Spain (4), England (3), and Argentina, Croatia, Poland, Portugal, Switzerland and Uruguay managed it twice. Mexico, Morocco, Senegal, South Korea and USA all made it to 1 World Cup semi-final.
The World Cup Best Player award was dominated by Mbappé, who won it in 4 out of 10 simulations. Mbappé also dominated the Golden Boot award, finishing as the top scorer in 5 simulations and joint-top scorer in 2. So he has a 70% chance of being the top scorer. He also had the best average rating in simulations and second-best in 2. However, he never featured in the top three assists ranking – he is rubbish!
The Best Young Player award was led by Gvardiol, who won it 4 times, followed by Bellingham winning it 3 times. Best Goalkeeper award was won twice by 4 players, Costa, Ederson, Flekken and Ramsdale. While Neymar twice collected the most assists at the World Cup.
Final Simulation Deciders
I was curious about whether adding playable leagues would give certain countries an advantage. So, seeing as we had a four-way tie, we ran one more simulation loading up a database loading up all the countries at the World Cup and playable in FM23 – which made the game a lot slower! It also threw up some massive surprises.
England failed to win their group, dropping behind USA, and Portugal again exited in the group stage behind South Korea and Uruguay. England then lost in round 2 with a penalty knockout by Holland, as did France against Poland. Belgium beat Germany 2-1, Brazil beat Uruguay 3-1 after extra-time, Croatia beat Spain 1-0 and South Korea beat Cameroon 4-1. In the quarters, Holland again went to penalties but lost to Argentina, then Brazil beat Belgium 3-1, USA made the semis by beating Poland 2-1 and Croatia 2-1 against South Korea.
A huge semi-final saw Argentina batter Brazil 4-0 led by a Lautaro Martínez brace, which is the first time his name has even popped up. Croatia joined them with a 1-0 win over USA. And Argentina won their first title of this simulation with a 2-0 win thanks to Lucas Ocampos and Martínez, who won Best Player and Golden Boot with 6 goals.
We’re still no closer to knowing which country is most likely to win the World Cup… so… one more simulation.
Another group stage shock saw Holland knocked out by Ecuador and Senegal. Ecuador then beat Iran 2-1, Argentina knocked out holders France 4-2, Spain beat Croatia 2-1 and Brazil beat Portugal on penalties. Ecuador’s luck ran out in the quarters as a Robert Lewandowski double saw them lose 2-1 to Poland and Switzerland beat Germany 1-0. But two big games saw Spain defeat Brazil 3-1 before England and Argentina went all the way to extra-time and a 92nd-minute Harry Kane penalty decided it.
England breezed past Switzerland 4-1 led by a Kane double and Poland shocked Spain 2-1 to reach their first Final. They then took the lead in the Final as Kamil Glik scored just before half-time. But Marcus Rashford equalised and Kane scored an 84th-minute winner. Kane topped the scoring chart with 9 as well as a 7.91 average rating.
So that means England are the nation Football Manager 2023 thinks are most likely to win World Cup 2022. Although it’s a very marginal call between several countries, which hopefully makes for an exciting tournament!
Enjoy this article and want more World Cup-related content? Check out all our FM-themed World Cup articles here!
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