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Is this World Cup actually as unpredictable as people think?

There's been shock exits and non-stop drama, but research shows the World Cup is not as unpredictable as fans might think

There’s no doubting this World Cup has been one of the most exciting in history – and we’ve not even got to the quarter-final stage.

We’ve seen Spain being knocked out by Russia, Argentina put to the sword by France, and Germany… well, we know what happened there.

But is the tournament actually as unpredictable as some people think it is?


Ahead of the quarter-finals (featuring England, of course), new research has shown that there’s some good news for us Three Lions fans – we’ll beat Sweden, hands down.

Kitman Labs has compiled data using the previous five World Cups which shows that it all comes down to goal difference in the group stages.

Their ‘Who will win the World Cup? By the numbers’ report shows each team’s goal difference during the group stage is an accurate yardstick for how far they will progress in the tournament.

On average, teams who reach the quarter-finals emerge from the group stage with a goal difference of four-five. Russia, Brazil (both +4), England and Uruguay (both +5) all finished within this bracket, while Croatia (+6) and Belgium (+7) qualified even more impressively.


So, in theory, those six teams’ passages should have come as no surprise, with only Sweden (+3) and France (+2) the anomalies to this model.

But will England get through? We hear you shouting at your screen.

Well here’s the good news – according to this model, they will.  Kitman Labs’ model predicts the teams who finished the group stage with the greater goal difference will make the last four.

This suggests Uruguay will shock France and face Belgium, who themselves are destined to stun favourites Brazil.

Getty - Contributor

In the other side of the draw, Croatia are tipped to end hosts Russia’s dreams and set up a semi-final date with England, who will beat Sweden.

Then what happens further done the line? Well, Kitman’s model claims that a final between Uruguay and Croatia is in the works, while England will face Belgium in the third-fourth place play-off.

So if that happens, will it be a shock? To many it will be, but to those of you who are now fully in the know, you can enjoy your trips to the pub on Saturday afternoon knowing England have, in theory, got it in the bag.