Without wanting to spoil the tournament before kicking the first ball in Qatar, it looks like Argentina could celebrate winning the 2022 World Cup. That’s if EA Sports’ predictions are somewhat after the company used FIFA 23 to simulate November 20th through December. 18 tournament and preemptively crowning the champions.
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Using FIFA 23 and the detailed player ratings used for the game’s various FIFA World Cup game modes, EA Sports played all 64 matches from group stage to final and found that glory is assured for Lionel Messi & Co. In addition, according to EA Sports, Messi will win the Golden Boot and the Golden Ball as the tournament’s top scorer and player respectively.
Messi also worked his way into the predicted team of the tournament where he was joined by four of his Albiceleste Teammates in Emiliano Martinez, Marcos Acuna, Leandro Paredes and Rodrigo De Paul. The remaining spots were filled by Marquinhos, Vinicius Junior and Richarlison of Brazil; Raphael Varane and Kylian Mbappe from France and Joao Cancelo from Portugal.
Before you go ahead and dismiss EA Sports’ prediction as just another ordinary PR stunt, know that they have an impressive track record when it comes to predicting World Cup winners. They ran similar simulations ahead of the 2010, 2014, and 2018 World Cups, each time picking the correct winner of the tournament: Spain, Germany, and France, respectively.
— EA SPORTS FIFA (@EASPORTSFIFA) November 8, 2022
Aside from picking the absolute winners, however, things quickly start to fall apart as EA Sports also offers a whole host of World Cup prophecies that didn’t materialize and haven’t aged well.
For example, it was predicted that Brazil would advance to the final of their home World Cup in 2014. Scholars may remember this Seleca were actually humiliated 7-1 by eventual winners Germany in the semi-finals – a result that shocked the world and traumatized the host nation.
Also in 2014, EA Sports predicted that defending champions Spain would beat neighbors Portugal 3-1 in a playoff for third place, only that neither side would make it out of their group.
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Spain international Isco was assisted to win the Golden Boot with five goals at the 2018 World Cup. In fact, the midfielder only managed to score once (against Morocco in the group stage). La Roja fell after a penalty shoot-out against hosts Russia in the round of 16. However, the EA Sports sim for 2018 predicted that Antoine Griezmann would also score five goals and in reality he scored four goals and finished second on the goalscoring chart as France won their second world title.
Also in 2018, David de Gea was named Best Goalkeeper while Gabriel Jesus was named Best Young Player. The former was widely pilloried for a horrific handling error against Portugal in the group stage, while the latter made five games before being eliminated in the quarter-finals after failing to score a single goal for Brazil.
Still, you can’t win everyone. And having correctly predicted the last three world champions, backing the side who are unbeaten in 35 games – two shy of Italy’s record of 37 unbeaten – seems like a pretty sensible decision.