It did not come true: Artificial Intelligence predicted Spain’s victory at the 2018 World Cup

It did not come true: Artificial Intelligence predicted Spain’s victory at the 2018 World Cup


The 2018 World Cup completed in Russia. The teams of France and Croatia met in the final match, in which the French became World Champions for the second time. However, at the beginning of the tournament no one suspected that these teams would reach the final.

Many followed the event, including the bookmakers, football experts, coaches, bookmakers, fans and even animal predictors, who have tried to predict the outcome of the championship. Together with them, these results tried to predict and scientists.

In this they were helped by artificial intelligence, and combining well-known approaches to predicting outcome of sporting events. Artificial intelligence is associated with up-to-dateness, development and advanced technologies. Many believed that artificial intelligence would not be mistaken. However, it happened.

Work was done by scientists from Germany and Belgium to predict the results of the 2018 World Cup by machine learning. The scientists had to combine the advantages of all methods of forecasting and to create his own, superior way. A lot of work was done. They began with the collection of data about the previous world Cup, which took place from 2002 to 2014.

At the time of collection, attention was paid to the following factors, such as the Economic factors (population and GDP per capita); the Sports factors (probability of win from bookies, FIFA rankings); the Home factor (whether or not the team in your own country, on their continent or in their Confederation); the Command-factors (average age, number of mates, number of players in the Champions League, the number of foreign players); the Coaching factors (age, nationality, career duration).

Then scientists used the artificial intelligence to determine the current abilities of the teams and to form the final prediction. There were 100 thousands of simulations of the tournament. The combination of forecasting methods has allowed predicting the result of each match of the League and to the probability of victory for each team. Artificial intelligence “came to the conclusion” that with probability 17.8% of the Cup will receive the Spanish national team. The probability is high, but declining, respectively, for national teams of Germany (17.1%) and Brazil (12.3%).

As the outcomes of the championship show, the real results of the tournament look completely different. According to the prediction, the probability that France will become the world Cup champion this year was 11.2 percent – much lower than the Spanish and German teams.

The prediction was made for the group stage also. Here the computer accurately guessed the winners of almost all groups. There were some errors only, namely, in Group D the first place was taken by the national team of Croatia, not Argentina. Team of Germany, which took first place in Group F according to the computer, unexpectedly left the tournament, taking the last place in the group.

Also in Group H, according to the forecast, Colombia and Poland were to become leaders. As to Colombia, the prediction was right. As to Poland, it was mistake – the team took the last place. Instead of Poland, the national team of Japan was in playoffs.

It is interesting to highlight that based on the data, the forecasts gave only 6% percent of the Croatia to reach the final.

It proves once again, no matter what forecasts made by super computers, famous analysts or animals; football remains one of the most unpredictable sports. Probably, for this reason, it is so popular, called as the game of millions without exaggeration.