The 2018 World Cup has gotten off to a flyer.
We’ve had upsets, controversial moments and some wonderful goals - and there’s still more than three weeks of action to go.
It’s too early to fully assess each nation - the first round of group stage matches will conclude on Friday, after all - but we have a few ideas about the teams.
Germany have plenty of work to do after losing their opening match to Mexico and the decision to leave Leroy Sane looks even more bizarre now.
Portugal appear reliant on Cristiano Ronaldo while Philippe Coutinho could be just as important for Brazil as Neymar is.
As for England, well, it’s coming home isn’t it.
We will have to wait until July 15 to find out who will actually take the trophy home but an artificial intelligence bot has simulated all of the matches for us.
World Cup simulation
As brought to our attention by the Mirror, an AI system developed by researchers from Germany and Belgium has simulated the tournament 100,000 times.
The bot used various different factors to determine the winner, including FIFA rankings, each country’s population and their gross domestic product (GDP), bookmaker’s odds, how many national team players play together in a club, the average age of the squad and the number of Champions Leagues they have won.
And which nation came out on top more often than most? Spain, followed by Germany and Brazil.
First, the group stages.
The system doesn’t predict any upsets, with Uruguay, Spain, France, Argentina, Brazil, Germany, Belgium and Colombia topping the groups.
Then, the probability of each team making it to the final and winning the World Cup were predicted.
1 | Spain | 17.8 per cent chance of winning the World Cup
2 | Germany | 17.1 per cent
3 | Brazil | 12.3 per cent
4 | France 11.2 per cent
5 | Belgium | 10.4 per cent
6 | Argentina | 7.3 per cent
7 | England | 7.1 per cent
8 | Portugal | 2.5 per cent
Turns out it’s not coming home after all.
The system takes a turn when we get to the semi-finals.
If Germany reach the final four, they will replace Spain as the favourites.
The researchers believe Joachim Low’s side are more likely to defeat Spain if they meet in the semis, but because of Germany’s tougher route - and the tournament structure - Spain are the favourites from the start.
Neither nation won their opening group match, but they are still expected to be around in the latter stages.
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