FIFA World Cup 2022: Some Useless Statistics
Last updated: Friday December 2nd, 2022
While the World Cup is currently underway, this blog looks at some
rather useless statistics about the nations and teams participating in the World Cup Finals. Since this is a quiz site, rather than talking about the football itself, let's talk about the nerdy subject of countries and statistics.
Group Stage - Most Popular Matches
To recap, here are the 8 groups in the World Cup group stage
|Group A||Group B||Group C||Group D|
|Ecuador||IR Iran||Saudi Arabia||Australia|
|Group E||Group F||Group G||Group H|
There are in total 48 matches in the group stage, which are impossible to watch them all. In particular, round 3 of the group stage matches happen simultaneously as these determine which team will advance to the knock out stage.
Logically, the matches with the highest population of the two teams competing will have the most viewers. And here are top 10 most popular matches based on population:
|Top 10||Group||Match||Score||Combined Population (million)|
|1||B||USA vs Iran||1 : 0||419|
|2||B||USA vs England||0 : 0||390|
|3||B||USA vs Wales||1 : 1||337|
|4||G||Brazil vs Cameroon||0 : 1||240|
|5||G||Brazil vs Switzerland||1 : 0||224|
|6||G||Brazil vs Serbia||2 : 0||222|
|7||E||Japan vs Germany||2 : 1||210|
|8||C||Mexico vs Argentina||0 : 2||176|
|9||E||Japan vs Spain||2 : 1||173|
|10||C||Mexico vs Poland||0 : 0||167|
As you can see, these are dominated by the big four countries with over 100 million population (USA, Brazil, Mexico, Japan). However, the assumption here is not accurate as the levels of enthusiasm in football (or soccer) between different countries are totally different (e.g. USA and Brazil). In addition, the World Cup is not only watched by the countries competing (as you can see from the number of Chinese billboards in the stadium). Naturally the matches between the strongest teams will attract the most number of viewers. So here are the top 10 matches based on the FIFA men's rankings as of 6 October 2022:
|Top 10||Group||Match||Score||Combined FIFA points|
|1||G||Brazil (1) vs Switzerland (15)||1 : 0||3477|
|2||F||Belgium (2) vs Croatia (12)||0 : 0||3462|
|3||D||France (4) vs Denmark (10)||2 : 1||3426|
|4||C||Argentina (3) vs Mexico (13)||2 : 0||3419|
|5||G||Brazil (1) vs Serbia (21)||2 : 0||3405|
|6||F||Belgium (2) vs Morocco (22)||0 : 2||3380|
|7||E||Spain (7) vs Germany (11)||1 : 1||3365|
|8||B||England (5) vs USA (16)||0 : 0||3356|
|9||C||Argentina (3) vs Poland (26)||2 : 0||3322|
|10||H||Portugal (9) vs Uruguay (14)||2 : 0||3315|
No match from Group A is in the above list, as the seeded team Qatar is too weak (ranked 50), and the best team Netherlands is only ranked 8th in the world.
However, there is another consideration regarding the World Cup matches, time differences. For few of the most populous time zones, some matches are played in the wee hours in the morning.
|Los Angeles||Mexico City||New York||Doha||Jakarta||Beijing||Tokyo|
So for example, the Brazil vs Switzerland match which starts at 19:00 in Qatar, or Spain vs Germany at 22:00 will be missed by many East Asian viewers, while many North Americans missed the famous upset by Saudi Arabia against Argentina which was played at 13:00 in Qatar, or Japan beating Germany which happened at 16:00. Anyway, many die-hard fans around the world will sacrifice their sleep for watching football.
Round of 16
On paper, if we go by ranking alone, the following should be the match up in the round of 16:
|Match||Total Points||Point Difference||Combined Population (M)|
|(A1) Netherlands vs USA (B2)||3322||67||351|
|(C1) Argentina vs |
|(G1) Brazil vs |
|(B1) England vs Senegal (A2)||3313||144||74|
|(D1) France vs |
|(H1) Portugal vs Switzerland (G2)||3312||41||19|
In theory, the match with the highest total points (i.e. the strongest teams) and lowest point differences (i.e. the tightest match) would be the most interesting. These mean Brazil vs
Uruguay Korea Republic (who doesn't love watching Brazil?), and Portugal vs Switzerland (both mid-tier European teams) are the ones to watch. However, things will never go the way as planned, and the table above will certainly not be the reality, e.g. Germany may not be able to progress after its loss to Japan. We will find out in a week's time.
**(3/12/22) I have updated the tables now all group matches are completed.
This is it. Regardless of country population or FIFA ranking points, each team puts on 11 players on the field and the ball is round, so may the best team win. And happy watching the World Cup.