World Cup 2018 got underway yesterday with Robbie Williams flicking the bird and Vladimir Putin delivering a slightly sinister, passive aggressive opening message. Oh, and Russia trounced Saudi Arabia 5-0.
It was a decent performance from the hosts but they are unlikely to lift the trophy, let’ be honest, and in the next week or so the big boys – Germany, Brazil, France and, erm, England – will get their own campaigns under way.
You could make a case to argue that this is the most wide open World Cup in decades, and that there are seven or eight sides who could be crowned as champions of the world in July. Yep, even England.
That makes predicting the outright winner difficult, and that’s a shame as the betting market is packed with some fantastic prices.
Well, the good news is that not all is lost. We have brought together four differing viewpoints in the aim of creating a consensus as to who will triumph on the big stage in Russia.
But we’ve not turned to ‘expert’ pundits or the opinions of armchair pundits. Oh no, we’ve sought the counsel of science, technology, history and a psychic feline; all of whom have plenty to say (meow) about World Cup 2018.
The Science Bit
If you’ve never conducted your own ‘Random Forest Approach’, then what the hell have you been doing with your life!?
We jest, of course. But this is actually a scientific medium used to define a result from a set of historical data run through a simulation model, and some German scientists with plenty of time on their hands have done that for World Cup 2018.
The outcome, based upon 100,000 simulations, saw – surprise, surprise – Germany triumphing in the final over Brazil.
The very same model saw England finish second in Group G before overcoming Colombia in the last 16. But the Three Lions’ journey is ended by the Germans in the quarter-finals; the Random Forest Approach could not confirm whether that was via a penalty shootout or not.
The Scientific Winner of World Cup 2018: Germany
The Technological View
Algorithms power many services and institutions, and help some of the world’s leading decision-makers in banking, finance and technology to come up with the answers that keep their investments afloat.
And so utilising the strength of an algorithm to predict who will win World Cup 2018 makes perfect sense.
That’s exactly what the investment bank UBS have done. They used thousands of strings of data – a slightly more comprehensive approach than Paul the Octopus’ fumblings at World Cup ’10 – to deliver the ultimate verdict of technology on how the summer showpiece in Russia will pan out.
The results were published in a huge booklet online, but to save you the hassle we’ve reproduced the algorithm’s likely World Cup winner for you here….
Germany. Or Brazil. Or Spain.
Yep, using some of the most complex IT software on the planet, UBS were able to narrow down the field to THREE teams, and three of the favourites to boot. They’d have been better off just playing Minesweeper, to be honest….
The Technological Winner of World Cup 2018: Germany/Brazil/Spain
Bang On Trend
The BBC’s Stephen Shemilt put together a great piece for his employer about how past World Cup trends can inform the future.
He took a number of categories to narrow down the 32-strong field and reveal the winner, using previous World Cups as his benchmark.
The study found that you need to be seeded, don’t be the tournament host, defend well, be European, have the best goalkeeper, be experienced and don’t be the defending champion.
And his findings were….
The Trend-Based Winner of World Cup 2018: Belgium
Puss In Bets
Eight years ago, Paul the Octopus became a global star as he slithered his way to predicting an absure number of winners at World Cup ’10.
Many creatures have looked to achieve a similar evel of notorierty since then, and Russia’s entrant is a deaf cat that spends his days chasing mice around a museum’s basement (true story).
Achilles the cat is apparently physcic, and those clairvoyant skills have been put to the test in a scientific experiment which sees two teams’ flags placed next to plates of food. The first plate Achilles tucks into is the winner.
So far he is one-from-one, having selected Russia to beat the Saudis yesterday.
So is Achilles psychic? No, of course he isn’t. There’s one room for an expert betting tipster in the animal kingdom, and that multiple-tentacled hero is now spreading his wisdom in heaven.
The Psychic Cat’s Winner of World Cup 2018: Paws for thought on that one