World Cup: England and Spain on the rise as Argentina chances dwindle – Stats Perform AI predicts the finals

After a build-up that felt like it lasted a lifetime, the first round of group matches at Qatar 2022 have been and gone in the blink of an eye and this World Cup looks wide open.

There have been shock wins for Saudi Arabia and Japan over Argentina and Germany respectively, while Spain, England and France each recorded handsome wins.

Brazil were labelled pre-tournament favourites by many and a Richarlison double handed them a 2-0 victory over Serbia in the final match of the first round of group-stage fixtures.

And, ahead of the second batch of group games, Stats Perform's AI model has updated to give the latest prediction as to who will lift the trophy at Lusail Stadium on December 18.

Let's check out the results…

FAVOURITES: Brazil (20.8 per cent)

It has been 20 years since Brazil won a record fifth World Cup title and Tite's men seemingly have all the ingredients to go all the way in Qatar.

After struggling to get out of first gear against Serbia, Richarlison scored twice – including a sensational acrobatic effort – to get the Selecao up and running for the tournament.

Following this victory, the predictor places Brazil's chances of glory at 20.8 per cent, a climb from 15.8 per cent prior to the start of the tournament.

They are ranked at 83.3 per cent to top the group and as high as 97.6 to make it to the knockout stages.

2. France (12.2 per cent)

The defending champions were hit by a spate of injuries prior to the tournament, including for Ballon d'Or winner Karim Benzema, and the crisis worsened with the loss of Lucas Hernandez against Australia.

But Les Bleus still boast a wealth of talent in their squad and Olivier Giroud's double in a comeback 4-1 win over the Socceroos saw him level Thierry Henry as France's all-time record goalscorer on 51.

Kylian Mbappe was also on the scoresheet in an ominous display from Didier Deschamps' side, who are aiming to become just the third nation to defend the trophy.

In the immediate term, they will also be looking to buck a trend of European winners being eliminated at the next World Cup – something that started with France back in 2002.

3. England (11.6 per cent)

Given an 8.7 per cent chance pre-tournament, Gareth Southgate's men are on the up after blowing away Iran 6-2 in their Group B opener – a match in which Bukayo Saka scored twice.

Having gone agonisingly close to winning a first major trophy since 1966 at last year's rescheduled Euro 2020, where they lost in the final on penalties to Italy, the Three Lions were out of form heading to Qatar.

But England were one of the star performers in the first round and have seen their hopes increase, while they are now given a 79.6 per cent chance of topping their pool.

Fitness concerns were raised over skipper Harry Kane, who hobbled off against Iran, but he looks set to be fit and England will be heavily tipped to at least make the knockout stages.

4. Spain (11.2 per cent)

Spain remain fourth on the list but have seen their chances of a second world title increase from 9.1 per cent previously.

A youthful La Roja side were not included by many in the overall conversation pre-tournament but the likes of Pedri and Gavi turned on the style in a 7-0 demolition of Costa Rica.

Luis Enrique's side have a tough encounter to come with Germany on Sunday but Die Mannschaft's shock loss to Japan has considerably altered the landscape in Group E.

Should they get a statement result against Hansi Flick's side, many may just change their tune when it comes to Spain's chances of success over the next few weeks.

Gavi
Gavi

5. Netherlands (8.8 per cent)

A 2-0 win over Senegal sees the Netherlands enter the top five in Stats Perform's model.

Three times the bridesmaid, never the bride in terms of World Cup finals, the Dutch have been tipped as outsiders to go all the way and the first round of fixtures have shown the trophy is well and truly up for grabs.

With games against Ecuador and hosts Qatar still to come, Louis van Gaal's side are given a near 97.4 per cent chance of at least reaching the last 16.

And from there, perhaps at last the World Cup will be painted Oranje…

THE REST OF THE FIELD

Argentina were ranked second pre-tournament but, despite Lionel Messi's early penalty, a shock 2-1 defeat to Saudi Arabia in Group C sees them plummet to seventh with just a 6.7 per cent chance of lifting the trophy. Indeed, Lionel Scaloni's side are now just rated at 58.5 per cent to reach the last 16.

Germany too suffered huge disappointment against Japan, squandering the lead to fall 2-1. As such, Flick's men are 10th in the rankings and rated at just two per cent.

Cristiano Ronaldo made history by becoming the first player to score in five straight World Cups as Portugal got up and running with a 3-2 win over Ghana on Thursday. Fernando Santos' side consequently are rated as sixth favourites (6.7 per cent).

Belgium (5.8) were far from convincing in a 1-0 win over Canada on Wednesday but climb from ninth, while and Denmark (2.8) are also in the top 10.

World Cup predictions
World Cup predictions

List in full:

1. Brazil (20.8 per cent)
2. France (12.2 per cent)
3. England (11.6 per cent)
4. Spain (11.2 per cent)
5. Netherlands (8.8 per cent)
6. Portugal (6.7 per cent)
7. Argentina (6.7 per cent)
8. Belgium (5.8 per cent)
9. Denmark (2.8 per cent)
10. Germany (2 per cent)
11. Croatia (1.4 per cent)
12. Uruguay (1.3 per cent)
13. Switzerland (1.3 per cent)
14. Ecuador (1.2 per cent)
15. Japan (1.2 per cent)
16. Mexico (0.7 per cent)
17. United States (0.7 per cent)
18. Serbia (0.7 per cent)
19. Poland (0.5 per cent)
20. Wales (0.4 per cent)
21. Morocco (0.4 per cent)
22. Senegal (0.3 per cent)
23. Saudi Arabia (0.3 per cent)
24. Tunisia (0.3 per cent)
25. Canada (0.3 per cent)
26. South Korea (0.2 per cent)
27. Ghana (0.2 per cent)
28. Iran (0.1 per cent)
29. Cameroon (0.1 per cent)
30. Australia (0 per cent)
31. Costa Rica (0 per cent)
32. Qatar (0 per cent)