Wednesday, 13 June 2018

It’s four years since the KordaMentha Forensic World Cup model beat Paul the Octopus and (correctly) predicted Brazil’s shock exit in the semi finals and Germany’s ultimate victory. We’re breaking out our model again to see what the 2018 edition has in store – can our model 'Mark II' beat another psychic animal and predict the winner?

Brazil to win

Our model predicts Brazil to enact revenge against reigning champs Germany in the final. Four years ago, Brazil famously lost 7–1 to Germany in the semi-finals, a result which shocked the world (but not our model!). However, this time around, the model Mark II was highly influenced by Brazil’s outstanding form in the notoriously difficult South American qualifiers, losing just once in 18 matches.

How does the model work?

Our model uses a combination of FIFA rankings and ELO ratings to simulate the likely results of each match in the tournament. Extra weighting is applied to factors such as home continent advantage, experience and goal-scoring record, as well as each side’s recent form in the lead up to the Cup. 

Superstar factor

Our model also accounts for the impact of ‘superstars’ – players whose global transfer market value reflects their ability to impact big games and change the course of a tournament. Brazil’s Neymar is the world’s most expensive player, so with the benefit of an outstanding squad around him, Brazil should be unstoppable. By contrast, other superstars like Messi, Ronaldo and Salah will need to do much of the heavy lifting themselves, featuring for sides which each looked shaky in qualifiers. 

Psychological impact

Predictions based on statistics always require some subjective judgement calls. Four years ago, our model discounted Brazil’s chances due to the massive pressure they faced playing in front of a demanding home crowd. This time around, however, it’s arguably rivals Germany with the pressure on their shoulders. While other predictive models have given Germany a boost to reflect their status as champions, the Mark II model has not, given the rarity of nations winning back-to-back World Cups (a feat not achieved since Brazil in 1962).

Think you know better?

If you think you can do better than our model Mark II, take us on in our tipping competition (sign up at We’ll be using our model to predict the outcome of each match, and prizes will be awarded to the top three tipsters.

Please note this competition is run by ESPN FootyTips and by participating you are subject to their terms and conditions.

Australia’s chances

Australia has had some impressive warm up results and, with a brand new manager, could this be the Socceroos’ year?! This is arguably Australia’s kindest World Cup draw in recent memory, but nevertheless a challenging one with the Socceroos ranked 36th in the World up against France (7th), Denmark (12th) and Peru (11th).
Our model Mark II predicts a tough time for Australia, who are unlikely to progress beyond the group stage.

We predict France progressing from Group C as the favourite, and Denmark just scraping past Peru.

France has four ‘superstars’ and Denmark one, giving them ‘superstar’ weighting in our model – whereas Peru and Australia have none at all (Kylian Mbappé of France is worth roughly five times more than the three most expensive Australian players combined). This, together with Peru’s impressive form through the South American qualifiers, puts Australia at the bottom of the group in our model.

However, there are some interesting possibilities for the statistics nerds (like us) ahead of Saturday’s opener against France:

  • Tim Cahill has made it onto the scoresheet in each of the previous three World Cups. If he scores in Russia, he’ll be one of the few players in history to score at four consecutive World Cups, along with German forwards Uwe Seeler and Miroslav Klose, and Brazil’s legendary Pele.

  • On the other hand, should Cahill receive a yellow or red card, he’ll join a less enviable group: the equal-most cards ever received at the World Cup. Only World Cup greats Cafu, Rafael Marquez and Zinedine Zidane have received six cards, just one more than Cahill’s current tally of five.

Ultimately, these factors don’t have much of an impact on our Mark II model. Cahill’s considerable experience and goal scoring record is not backed up by the majority of his teammates. And the transfer market value of France’s most expensive player (Kylian Mbappé, worth an estimated EUR 180 million) dwarfs Australia’s most expensive player (Aaron Mooy, worth an estimated EUR 10 million).