FIFA World Cup 2022: Some Useless Statistics

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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 AGroup BGroup CGroup D
Qatar England Argentina France
Netherlands USA Mexico Denmark
Senegal Wales Poland Tunisia
Ecuador IR Iran Saudi Arabia Australia
 
Group EGroup FGroup GGroup H
Spain Belgium Brazil Portugal
Germany Croatia Switzerland Uruguay
Japan Morocco Serbia Korea Republic
Costa Rica Canada Cameroon Ghana

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 10GroupMatchScoreCombined Population (million)
1BUSA vs Iran1 : 0419
2BUSA vs England0 : 0390
3BUSA vs Wales1 : 1337
4GBrazil vs Cameroon0 : 1240
5GBrazil vs Switzerland1 : 0224
6GBrazil vs Serbia2 : 0222
7EJapan vs Germany2 : 1210
8CMexico vs Argentina0 : 2176
9EJapan vs Spain2 : 1173
10CMexico vs Poland0 : 0167

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 10GroupMatchScoreCombined FIFA points
1GBrazil (1) vs Switzerland (15)1 : 03477
2FBelgium (2) vs Croatia (12)0 : 03462
3DFrance (4) vs Denmark (10)2 : 13426
4CArgentina (3) vs Mexico (13)2 : 03419
5GBrazil (1) vs Serbia (21)2 : 03405
6FBelgium (2) vs Morocco (22)0 : 23380
7ESpain (7) vs Germany (11)1 : 13365
8BEngland (5) vs USA (16)0 : 03356
9CArgentina (3) vs Poland (26)2 : 03322
10HPortugal (9) vs Uruguay (14)2 : 03315

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.

UTC-8UTC-6UTC-5UTC+3UTC+7UTC+8UTC+9
Los AngelesMexico CityNew YorkDohaJakartaBeijingTokyo
2:004:005:0013:0017:0018:0019:00
5:007:008:0016:0020:0021:0022:00
8:0010:0011:0019:0023:000:001:00
11:0013:0014:0022:002:003:004:00

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:

MatchTotal PointsPoint DifferenceCombined Population (M)
(A1) Netherlands vs USA (B2)332267351
(C1) Argentina vs Denmark Australia (D2)3440 3263107 28553 73
(E1) Spain Japan vs Croatia (F2)3361 320570 8651 129
(G1) Brazil vs Uruguay Korea Republic (H2)3480 3372203 311219 267
(B1) England vs Senegal (A2)331314474
(D1) France vs Mexico Poland (C2)3405 3308115 211197 106
(F1) Belgium Morocco vs Germany Spain (E2)3467 3279167 15296 84
(H1) Portugal vs Switzerland (G2)33124119

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.

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Level 42
Nov 27, 2022
I loved it lol. This should become a series. I would like to see China on a World Cup representing AFC... and hopefully, #OHexaVem
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Level 66
Nov 27, 2022
Thanks. The Chinese football team is so bad that it's scandalous.
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Level 42
Nov 27, 2022
At least your badge is better than Spain's new one... and Chinese football is (or used to be) where every Brazilian player that ever got summoned by Brazil National Team goes when he's trying to retire, or to only get in shape to get back to Brazil and make an astronomical season hulk in atlético mineiro 2021, for example. Idk if it's a good thing or not actually lol

But what would be your favorite national team?

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Level 66
Nov 27, 2022
I don't really have a favourite team, but Brazil and France are the most impressive teams so far.
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Level 42
Nov 27, 2022
Brazil is a true aces machine, and nobody can deny that. Richarlison’s second goal against Serbia shows how the young generation can offer many titles to the country. Vini Jr’s goal in the final of Champions League against Liverpool eternalized his name. Rodrygo’s comeback at semifinals against Man City was extremely important, and I don’t have to say much about Neymar. Hopefully, he can be healed from his injury soon.

Well I like France a bit, but Mbappé is a pampered child in my opinion, mainly in PSG. It’s impressive how the team could pass through the bunch of the injuries and through the “Champion’s Curse”.

The hateful about this World Cup is that when Brazilians want entertainment with the WC against their rivals, it’s a big disappointment after all. I mean, Saudi Arabia won 2-1 against Argentina, that won 2-0 against Mexico. Japan won 2-1 against Germany, that drew 1-1 with Spain. And Belgium lost 2-0 against Morocco, but I’m not confident in Croatia with these results...