Imagine if Brazil had put forth more effort to prepare for the 2006 World Cup in Germany. Suppose Felipe Melo hadn’t been sent out in 2010. Suppose Neymar hadn’t been hurt just before the semi-final match in 2014. What would have happened if Thibaut Courtois had not made a crucial save on a shot by Renato Augusto in 2018?
Many Brazilians live in a fantasy world where their national team, the Seleço, has already won six World Cups.
Our model of a tournament simulator allows us to calculate the odds that the “Hexa” will be played in Qatar in 2022.
Group Play (every team has an equal shot of advancing)
Let the group stages begin. One of the eight teams from Pot 1, Brazil is in Group G as the top seed with Cameroon, Serbia, and Switzerland. The supercomputer thinks that adversaries pose no danger.
The computer predicts that Brazil has a 67.6% probability of winning Group G and a very high 88.5% likelihood of advancing to the next round of the tournament. Based on these projections, Brazil is predicted to finish first in Group G, with only Argentina (69.3%) having a greater probability of finishing first.
Fifa World Cup Group G
Based on the algorithm, Switzerland and Serbia will be competing for second place in the group. At the 2018 World Cup in Russia, Brazil’s group also included the Swiss and another European nation.
If Brazil finishes first in their group as the odds predict they would, it will be a good sign that they are on the right track to winning the championship. Since the round of 16 was added to the FIFA World Cup in 1986, the tournament champion has always come out on top of its group.
The Group G winners will face the Group H runner-ups in the next round. The odds of South Korea and Ghana advancing to the round of 16 are lower than Portugal and Uruguay’s chances of advancing from that group. In this case, our model favors Portugal over Spain, which would set up a match between Uruguay and Brazil.
Brazil vs. Uruguay, a round of 16; Group H; 2014 World Cup (88.5% likelihood of advancing)
In the round of 16, Brazil will likely face another South American country, which might be excellent news for Brazil. Tite’s squad went the whole qualifying season undefeated (W14 D3), with two wins against Uruguay (2-0 away, 4-1 at home).
But now that time has changed. When Carlos Tábarez was Brazil’s coach, his team swept both of those victories against Uruguay. To ensure their berth in Qatar, Diego Alonso’s team won their last four qualifying matches.
When Brazil faces Uruguay in the round of 16, it will bring back memories of the Maracanazo from 1950. However, Brazil has already avenged that loss by beating the Celeste in the World Cup semi-final in 1970, on the way to earning their third World Cup championship against Italy.
If Tite’s Brazil team keeps winning against Uruguay (4-0), their quarterfinal opponent will be…
Final Four (64.4% have made it this far)
Taking on Spain, Brazil, and Portugal
Both the Group E champion and the Group F runner-up will face Brazil in the quarterfinals.
A tiny edge goes to Spain over Germany in Group E, while our supercomputer predicts that Croatia will finish second in Group F, behind champions Belgium.
The percentages favor Spain over Croatia in a hypothetical matchup; hence, La Roja would be Brazil’s quarterfinal opponent even though Croatia was a finalist four years ago but was defeated by France. This would be the sixth time that Spain and Brazil have met in a World Cup matchup, with only Sweden (seven times) and Italy (eight times) having more meetings than Spain and Brazil.
Brazil’s last win against Spain came in the 2013 Confederations Cup final, which they won 3-0. A victory against the reigning World and European champions boosted Brazilians’ hopes of hosting a successful World Cup in 2014. However, we are all aware that this was a nightmare.
Brazil’s previous appearance in the World Cup semi-finals was in 2014. It’s the closest Brazil has been to claim the trophy since they appeared in three straight finals from 1994 to 2002.
There hasn’t been a World Cup match between Spain and Brazil since 1986. Brazil won their opening group game against Spain 1-0, although both teams advanced to the round of 16, where they were ultimately ousted in a penalty shootout.
After falling short of expectations in each of the last two World Cups, Spain will be eager to eliminate Brazil. However, we are charting the path of the five-time world winners here, and Tite’s men will advance to the semi-final stage, where they will meet…The chance of advancing to the last four is 41.1%.
South American rivals, Brazil and Argentina
Another South American competitor, the supercomputer predicts, will stand in Brazil’s path on the road to success. Mathematically, Brazil’s next opponent in the semi-finals will be their South American neighbor, Argentina.
Our simulations suggest that Argentina have a 90.2% probability of advancing out of Group C. They’ll breathe easier knowing that the group runners-up won’t have to play the current winners, France, in the round of 16.
If Argentina were to finish first in their group, they would advance to play Denmark, which is currently projected to finish second. They’d face the Netherlands from Group A, who’d advanced to the quarterfinals by beating the United States in the first round of the playoffs. The United States is expected to finish second in Group B, behind Wales but ahead of Iran.
The Argentine national team enters the World Cup on the heels of their greatest winning streak in team history, a record of 35 games (W24 D11). In actuality, Brazil beat them 2-0 in the semi-finals of the 2019 Copa América.
Brazil defeated Argentina, 2-1, in their first World Cup match in 1974. After their first meeting, they faced twice again in the group stage of subsequent tournaments, with Brazil emerging victorious, 3-1, in 1982. In their only ever knockout match, Argentina beat the Seleço 1-0 in the 1990 round of 16.
This seems like the ultimate matchup. Our model predicts that these two teams have the best probability of winning the World Cup overall.
Having them meet would be sure to be a dramatic showdown. If they were to win, the 2022 World Cup final would be a rematch of 1998 final. So that implies…
Finally (a quarter-seventh probability of surviving to this point).
France takes on Brazil.
The Seleço will play the reigning champions France in Lusail on 18 December 2022. Brazil, still smarting from their 1998 World Cup loss to France, would have a chance to get revenge on the previous manager Mário Zagallo in 2014.
In the round of 16, Les Bleus will most likely meet Mexico, followed by two matches against European teams. Possible opponents in the quarterfinals include England (predicted to eliminate Senegal), with a showdown against four-time champions Germany in the semis.
In the World Cup, France is Brazil’s ultimate Achilles’ heel. They lost in the semi-finals against the Brazilians in 1958, but have since gotten theirs three times. Les Bleus eliminated the Seleço from the tournament in 1986 and again in 2006, both in the quarterfinals, before going on to win the tournament in 1998.
France is one of just four teams in World Cup history to have beaten Brazil on several occasions, along with Hungary (twice), Italy (twice), and the Netherlands (x3). However, the supercomputer forecasts that 2022 will be Brazil’s year.
Predictions for the 2022 World Cup Winners
You can almost touch these pictures.
Based on our simulations, France has an 11.9% probability of making it two championships in a row. It’s the second-best percentage in the league, behind only Brazil. The model predicts that the Seleço will triumph in Qatar with a 16.2% likelihood of victory.
Our projections indicate that Brazil will again triumph in the World Cup in Asia, just as they did in the first tournament held there. Who will be the hero for Brazil in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, 20 years after Ronaldo scored twice against Germany in Japan?