UPDATED: 13 Jun 2018

Football Manager 2018 vs the World Cup: bidstack predicts what will happen in Russia by playing video games

Written by bidstack

The World Cup is almost here. After years of waiting, football fans across the globe are preparing to say goodbye to their loved ones and spend the best part of five weeks sitting in front of the TV.

And as with all major international tournaments, it’s impossible to resist the urge to predict what’s going to happen.

With so many people fancying a flutter, running sweepstakes or just generally wanting to lord it over their friends, guessing how the World Cup will play out is a natural part of the hype cycle.

We at bidstack understand this. That’s why we’ve run a simulation of the World Cup through Football Manager 2018. Rather than leave things to chance or well written newspaper previews, we thought it best to turn to, erm, science to see what’ll happen.

So, who’s going to win the tournament? Who’ll be top scorer? And what else should you be looking out for from the 14th June? Let’s find out.

Important methodology point

Before we get into the meat of the matter, it’s important that we explain exactly how we did our prediction and the limits that might come with that.

To get the right teams into the finals downloaded a custom World Cup database to ensure that we had the right teams in the final. We used a database created by Youtuber GoldenFM as the basis for our efforts, simming our way through to the 15th July 2018 to help us make our predictions.


The goods can be found here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/fmdb-football-scout/id1386843917?mt=8

However, we weren’t able to get everything right in the set up. Because I – George Osborn – am a bit of an idiot, I unfortunately gave the AI managers enough leeway in the simulation start date to tweak their squads.

This means that a few players who aren’t at the World Cup did manage to slip through the net. Specifically, we spotted Juan Mata and Adam Lallana impacting games in a way they simply won’t be able to in Russia this year.

On top of that, we decided to only run the sim once. We could have come up with arguably more definitive predictions if we had run it multiple times. However, we thought it’d be more interesting for you – the reader – to see one version of through the eyes of FM2018 and use that as a comparison point.

So with that all laid out, let’s crack on with our predictions.

Who will win the World Cup?

Germany will win the 2018 World Cup, according to our FM simulation. They’ll become the first team since Brazil in 1962 to retain the crown after seeing off Spain in the final following a nail biting penalty shoot out.


Squeakiest of bum times

However, they won’t get there as easily as you might think. Although Die Mannschaft will win comfortably against Sweden 4-1, an out of character draw with South Korea and a defeat against Mexico will see them scrape their way out of the group.

The Germans will only gain their momentum after thrashing Brazil 4-0 in the last 16, after which they will finally become the ruthless tournament dominating machine they usually are.

Who will be the best player of the tournament?

Unsurprisingly, a German footballer will win the player of the tournament gong. Thomas Muller is slated as the man to come out on top, with four goals and an assist across the tournament firing him to the best player award ahead of – surprisingly – Cologne full back Jonas Hector.


There’s no accounting for taste

Hey, it’s not our fault individual player awards are weird.

Who will get the golden boot?

Argentina’s Gonzalo Higuain is in the box seat to become top scorer at the forthcoming World Cup, according to our calculations. Five goals in two games against Croatia and Iceland set Higuain on the way to an impressive final return of eight goals, leaving him three clear of his nearest rivals.


How do you say flat track bully in Spanish?

However, his efforts will prove to be in vain. Argentina will tumble out of the World Cup in the quarters, with Spain dealing the killing blow to Lionel Messi’s latest attempt to one up Cristiano Ronaldo.

Who will be the best young player?

Despite fierce competition from a selection of bright attacking prospects, Denmark’s Kasper Dolberg ended up winning the best young player award in our simulation.


Kasper likes ghosting in from the left

Recording three goals in four appearances to help Denmark to the quarter finals, the Ajax forward shone brightly before his side’s hopes were extinguished.

How will Russia do in the 2018 World Cup?

According to our simulation, the answer is really well. The Russians will, against the odds, make it to the semi finals and eventually finish fourth behind Serbia.


Quite possibly the worst third place play off ever

The fact they got there was totally, if you’ll pardon my vernacular, jammy. Their run to the semis relied upon an out of sorts Uruguay dropping a clanger against Saudi Arabia, Morocco edging Portugal out of Group B and Denmark contriving to lose 4-1 to the hosts after recording four effortless wins. They also needed 33 year old wide player Alexander Samedov to bang in five goals on behalf of the host nation, despite only having 7 goals in 48 appearances in real life.

So this is probably the squirmiest forecast we’ve made thus far. But hey, South Korea got to the semis once. It could happen again. Possibly…

How will England do in the 2018 World Cup?

England will do the most England thing imaginable in the 2018 World Cup and get knocked out in the quarter-finals by Germany.

After winning our opening fixtures against Tunisia and Panama comfortably, a defeat against Belgium will force the Three Lions to overcome Colombia 3-2 in an exciting round of 16 tie.


And you can pinpoint the precise moment when Werner broke England hearts…

However, our hopes will be extinguished in normal time of the round of eight. With the scores level at 75 minute, Timo Werner will pop up in the penalty area and ensure that Germany will – once again – kill the hope of the nation.

But on the plus side, at least we won’t have to go out on penalties this time.

Are there any players that FM suggests we should be keeping an eye out for?

Having crunched the numbers/flicked through a few menus, there were three players from our simulation that caught our eye.

Cristian Pavon – The Boca Juniors winger is fast becoming a household name, with the pacy wide player being linked to plenty of top sides already. However, our simulation suggests his stock will rise even further in Russia – laying on three assists and scoring once on behalf of Argentina.

Hirving Lozano – Hirving forward has long been an FM legend and was even a tasty part of one of my Benfica teams in FM2017. Now at PSV, Lozano scored three goals in four matches for Mexico in our simulation and is well placed to catch the eye this summer.

Thomas Delaney – Werder Bremen’s Danish central midfielder could be the man to set defensively minded hearts racing. A left footed tough tackler, Delaney recorded an average of 7.15 tackles per game in our simulation and recorded an average pass completion rate in excess of 85%. This suggests he could be the perfect cover for Denmark’s impressive selection of attacking midfielders in Russia.

We’ll be revisiting our forecasts at the end of the World Cup to see how FM did once the tournament is over.

But if you want to make the World Cup that little bit easier to follow along with in the coming month, make sure to grab the FMDB Football Scout app here to look up player attributes on the fly.

Written by bidstack | 13 Jun 2018