Looking Back On Our World Cup Predictions

Argentinian football fans at a match, waving large blue and white flags
Rhys Thomas

Now that Qatar 2022 has come to its dramatic conclusion, with Argentina lifting the trophy for the third time, it’s time to see if there were any champions amongst our prediction-makers. We may claim to know sports and have passion for writing about all the action, but unfortunately it was a very mixed bag from our ‘experts’. Rhys Thomas reflects on the Impact sports team’s predictions. 

On the eve of the World Cup Impact Sport put our tournament predictions out to the world, exposing ourselves to the glorious unpredictability of the beautiful game. None of us, however, foresaw quite so many shocks, upsets, and seemingly nonsensical events. Let’s see how we did… 

Rhys Thomas 

These predictions have proved not to be my finest hour by any stretch of the imagination, some spot-on choices reduced to nothing by some efforts that – with the benefit of hindsight – appear truly awful shouts.  

Let’s start with the good: Argentina to win. What a visionary… I simply couldn’t ignore their incredible unbeaten streak going into the competition. Coupled with the resurgence of a brilliant Messi at PSG this season, I backed the fairytale story and was right to do so. Admittedly, it was looking as if it might end in tears after their first game defeat to Saudi Arabia, but in the end, it was a smart choice to back the eventual winners. 

The Argentine magician was stunning en route to a richly deserved win

In similar fashion, I opted for Messi as Golden Ball (best player winner). In a tournament in which he cemented himself as the greatest player of all time (as if he needed to prove anything), the Argentine magician was stunning en route to a richly deserved win. 

Predicting Neymar for the Golden Boot unravelled in the group stage, as he picked up an injury that kept him out for multiple games. Another Brazilian backing of Alisson to pick up the Golden Glove was going well early on. He was then rested in the loss to Cameroon, and his exemplary shot-stopping was eventually overcome with a wonder strike from South Korea’s Seung-Ho. And then Brazil were out in the next round. Although, in my opinion, Emi Martinez was not deserving of the award – he was average except for the shootouts and the last-minute save. 

Picking Messi to go further than Ronaldo was an easy choice

Perhaps the most glaring failure was the call for Saudi Arabia to be the worst group stage team. After watching Qatar crumble against Ecuador, I was already regretting my choice, and was all the more eating my words as Saudi Arabia stunned Argentina in their first game. They still didn’t make it out of the group, at least. 

Uruguay were a team that really struggled to get going in any of their games, and their dark horse credentials evaporated with their group stage exit. It’s fair to say many people were expecting more from the South Americans. 

Picking Messi to go further than Ronaldo was an easy choice. Not so obvious was Ronaldo being dropped in Portugal’s last two games of the tournament, his World Cup career ending in humiliation. 

Everyone else 

[Núñez] struggled for a chance in an uncreative side

Unfortunately, none of Rosie Loyd’s bold predictions came true, as Spain were dumped out by Morocco and Kane sent his Golden Ball prospects into orbit. Neuer’s Golden Glove campaign lasted all of three games, and France were unsurprisingly above being the worst group stage performers.

Vinay Patel also successfully picked Argentina as his winners, as well as backing Messi to scoop the Golden Ball. His prediction of Australia to be the worst team must have been pinned on the Socceroos’ dressing room wall and inspired them on to the Round of 16. One of several to back Núñez for the Golden Boot, the Uruguayan struggled for a chance in an uncreative side. 

No one picked Germany for a shock early exit, although a few did forsee Belgium’s misery

Ben Broadbent thought runners-up France would go all the way, but this time the final was a step too far for the 2018 champions. Tunisia were not looking a bad shout for worst side until they shocked Les Bleus in the final group stage match. Ben picked the wrong heavyweight from Group E to exit first, as it was Germany who crashed out of the groups. 

As for the poll responders, the majority who backed Argentina and Messi for winners and Golden Ball respectively were proven correct. No one picked Germany for a shock early exit, although a few did forsee Belgium’s misery.  

Mbappe was not amongst the predicted top two for Golden Boot, those positions going to Messi and Núñez. Alisson’s dominance of the Golden Glove prediction seemed logical, but no one picked Emi Martinez or other candidates such as Livakovi? or Lloris. 

The most rogue call of Nigeria, who did not even qualify, was also slightly ill-informed

46% believed Qatar would be the worst team. The host’s fulfilled this destiny by finishing on zero points and a goal difference of –6, one worse than Canada. None of the dark horse shouts were very successful, with only the USA making it out of the group. The most rogue call of Nigeria, who did not even qualify, was also slightly ill-informed. 

So, there we have it: another World Cup consigned to the record books. Messi and Argentina were popular picks amongst our writers and readers, and they proved to be the right ones. As always, there were some emerging talents such as Morocco that evaded our pre-tournament enthusiasm, and it’s wonderful to see such a side proving the world wrong. Maybe 2026’s Impact contingent will be more successful. 

Rhys Thomas

Featured image courtesy of Christian Tarzi via Unsplash. Image license found here. No changes were made to this image. 

In article image 1 courtesy of @fifaworldcup and @fifa via Instagram. No changes were made to this image.

In article image 2 courtesy of @fifaworldcup via Instagram. No changes were made to this image.

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