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football | Thursday, October 13, 2022 11:45 AM (Revised at: Wednesday, November 23, 2022 9:38 AM)

History Says.....Back Warm Weather Nations At The 2022 World Cup

History Says.....Back Warm Weather Nations At The 2022 World Cup
Xinhua / Alamy Stock Photo

Ok, first thing, shut up. Yeah yeah you read the title, the World Cup is being played in Qatar and you’re all like “Umm yeah of course warm weather nations are going to perform better in a warm climate .Thanks Babs.”

But do you have data to back up your claim? No, you don’t. Or at least you didn’t, until now.

In this article I will be taking a look at how nations competing in the World Cup have performed in differing temperatures. I’ll be looking at data across the entire history of the World Cup plus betting data from the World Cup of 1998 until the most recent World Cup of 2018.

In this article:


Introduction: Playing Against The Weather

Ok first disclaimer. (There’s going to be a few). I am no meteorologist. I do not know the subtleties of climate analysis nor claim to. So if you are a meteorologist or climate scientist, all I ask is, please humor me. You are likely to be a little annoyed by the, let’s assume, simplistic approach I am taking here.

But indulge me.

Firstly, I collected historical climate data from the World Bank Climate Change Knowledge Portal.

From the portal I gathered the following data:

  • Average yearly temperature (c) for each nation that has ever competed at the World Cup
  • Average monthly temperature (c) for World Cup host nations for the month(s) in which the World Cup was hosted.

Ok, next round of disclaimers. Some obvious issues. Temperatures can vary greatly across a single nation. Russia, USA and Australia for example. Further, while some nations may experience moderate changes in climate throughout the year, other nations can experience greater shifts in temperature from month to month, season to season.

However, for the scope of this analysis, I felt collecting average yearly temperatures was a reasonable way to characterize a given nation’s climate.

Another issue. Collecting average monthly temperatures for host nations for the month in which the World Cup was played does not take into account rises in temperatures over the years since the World Cup was played. Further, it does not take into account the average temperatures for specific host cities, but rather considers the nation as a whole.

But again, for the scope of this analysis, collecting average monthly temperatures for each host nation (essentially their summer average), seemed a reasonable, if albeit broad way of assessing the climate in which each World Cup has been played.

When it comes to World Cup match data, for the general analysis I looked at each World Cup from 1930 to 2018, excluding 3rd place playoff matches. I also ruled knockout stage matches by the score at the end of regulation time discarding extra time and penalty shootouts.

Further, I regarded nations historically as per FIFA. Germany as West Germany from 1950 to 1990. Czech Republic as Czechoslovakia from 1934 to 1990. Serbia as Yugoslavia and Serbia and Montenegro from 1930 to 2006. Russia as the Soviet Union.

For the betting analysis, I looked at betting odds from 1998 to 2018 with data taken from my own data archive with gaps helpfully filled by BetExplorer.

So, with all that said, let’s take a look.


Performance of Average Temps At World Cups

Below is the performance of average yearly temperatures at each World Cup from 1930 to 2018, looking at average competition points i.e three points for a win and a point for a draw applied across matches, group stage and knockout stage.

Table 1: Performance of Average National Temperatures at World Cups

NATION’S AVE Temp CELSIUS Matches WIN DRAW LOSS AVE Pts
-4 47 19 12 16 1.47
2 11 2 5 4 1.00
3 49 18 14 17 1.39
7 71 23 15 33 1.18
8 26 4 7 15 0.73
9 177 58 45 74 1.24
10 268 126 83 59 1.72
11 122 37 32 53 1.17
12 180 67 41 72 1.34
13 81 39 27 15 1.78
14 73 31 19 23 1.53
15 81 40 19 22 1.72
16 28 13 6 9 1.61
18 93 29 27 37 1.23
20 21 5 5 11 0.95
21 88 22 21 45 0.99
22 19 2 6 11 0.63
23 10 0 2 8 0.20
24 43 10 15 18 1.05
25 186 87 40 59 1.62
26 29 5 4 20 0.66
27 36 9 6 21 0.92
28 15 3 4 8 0.87
29 8 2 5 1 1.38

First glance we can see that nations with lower temperatures have tended to perform better. But there’s not a lot to take from this. There could be any number of reasons for this, chief reason being that nations with lower than average temperatures just happen to be the more talented footballing nations.

So let’s start flipping the data.


Performance of Average Temps by Host Temps

For simplicity, I decided to split average yearly temperatures into three categories:

  • Cold – nations with average yearly temperatures 10 degrees and below
  • Moderate – nations with average year temperatures 11 degrees to 19 degrees.
  • Warm – nations with average yearly temperatures 20 degrees and higher.

The table below shows the overall performance of each climate category throughout the history of the World Cup.

Table 2: Performance of Temperature Categories at World Cups

Nation’s Weather Matches Won Drawn Loss Ave Pts
Cold 649 250 181 218 1.43
Moderate 658 256 171 231 1.43
Warm 455 145 108 202 1.19

As highlighted earlier, warm nations have earned fewer match points than both cold and moderate climates.

So let’s then take a look at how each climate category performs in warm climate World Cups as opposed to both cold and moderate climates.

I have here categorized the average monthly temperatures of host nations just as I did for average yearly temperatures of competing nations.

Below is the performance of each climate category when competing in World Cups of moderate to cold climates, specifically, World Cups held in an average monthly temperature of 19 degrees or cooler.

Table 3: Performance of Temperature Categories at World Cups held in Cold or Moderate Temperatures

Nation’s Weather Matches Ave GF Ave GA Ave GD W D L Pts
Cold 375 1.47 1.34 0.14 152 101 122 1.49
Moderate 376 1.58 1.35 0.23 154 90 132 1.47
Warm 245 1.13 1.69 -0.56 69 55 121 1.07

Now let’s take a look at the performance of each climate category when competing in World Cups in a warm climate.

Table 4: Performance of Temperature Categories at World Cups held in Warm Temperatures

Nation’s Weather Matches Ave GF Ave GA Ave GD W D L Pts
Cold 274 1.32 1.21 0.11 98 80 96 1.36
Moderate 282 1.27 1.24 0.03 102 81 99 1.37
Warm 210 1.28 1.46 -0.19 76 53 81 1.34

And now the distinction in performance between playing at warm weather World Cups and cold / moderate.

Table 5: Differential In Performance of Temperature Categories at World Cups held in Warm Temperatures opposed to World Cups held in Cold or Moderate Temperatures.

Nation’s Weather AVE GOAL DIFFERENCE Differential AVE Pts Differential
Cold -0.03 -0.12
Moderate -0.20 -0.10
Warm +0.37 +0.27

So while nations with cold and moderate temperatures have been overall superior to warmer weather nations across the history of the World Cup, we can see that the performance of warmer weather nations improves when competing at World Cups in warmer temperatures.

In fact warm weather nations improved their overall average from 1.07 points per game when playing in cooler World Cups to 1.34 points per game when competing at warm weather World Cups, an improvement of 0.27 points per game.

Further, their goal difference improved likewise, from -0.56 goals per game in cooler and moderate climate World Cups, to -0.19 goals in warm weather World Cups, an improvement of +0.37 goals per game.

At the same time we see the performance of both cold and moderate climate nations diminish, although perhaps surprisingly the goal difference of cold weather nations dropped by just 0.03 goals per game while moderate climate nations dropped by 0.20 goals per game.

Below I have listed the differentials for each nation competing at the 2022 World Cup, comparing their performance at both cold and moderate temperature World Cups with their performance at warm weather World Cups.

Table 6: Differential In Performance of Nations at World Cups held in Warm Temperatures opposed to World Cups held in Cold or Moderate Temperatures.

Nation Cold / Moderate Matches Warm Matches AVE GD Differential AVE Pts Differential
Argentina 48 33 +0.02 +0.12
Australia 13 3 -1.08 -0.77
Belgium 15 31 +0.24 +0.15
Brazil 59 46 +0.6 +0.53
Cameroon 6 17 -0.12 +0.61
Canada 0 3 NA NA
Costa Rica 6 12 +1.5 +1.42
Croatia 16 6 -0.67 -0.63
Denmark 12 8 +0.5 +0.67
Ecuador 4 6 -0.58 -0.33
England 36 31 -0.05 -0.19
France 43 20 +0.05 -0.09
Germany 59 45 +0.01 +0.07
Ghana 9 3 -0.45 -1.00
Iran 12 3 0 -0.42
Japan 14 7 +0.21 +0.29
Mexico 33 24 +1.12 +0.75
Morocco 6 10 -0.27 -0.23
Netherlands 33 15 -0.4 -0.30
Poland 19 13 -0.64 -0.45
Portugal 19 9 -1.28 -0.73
Qatar 0 0 NA NA
Saudi Arabia 9 7 -0.19 +0.30
Senegal 3 5 +0.2 +0.07
Serbia 34 11 +0.51 +0.40
South Korea 15 18 +1.17 -0.08
Spain 30 33 -0.08 +0.03
Switzerland 26 11 +0.11 +0.21
Tunisia 12 3 -0.66 -0.42
Uruguay 29 24 -0.85 -0.65
USA 14 19 +0.28 +0.07
Wales 5 0 NA NA

And here are the performances of nations who have played at least 20 World Cup matches, ranked in terms of points differential from matches played in cold and moderate climate World Cups to those played in warm climates.

Table 7: Differential In Performance of Nations at World Cups held in Warm Temperatures opposed to World Cups held in Cold or Moderate Temperatures. (Minimum 20 World Cup matches played)

Nation Total Matches AVE GD Differential AVE Pts Differential
Mexico 57 +1.12 +0.75
Denmark 20 +0.5 +0.67
Cameroon 23 -0.12 +0.61
Brazil 105 +0.6 +0.53
Serbia 45 +0.51 +0.40
Japan 21 +0.21 +0.29
Switzerland 37 +0.11 +0.21
Belgium 46 +0.24 +0.15
Argentina 81 +0.02 +0.12
Germany 104 +0.01 +0.07
USA 33 +0.28 +0.07
Spain 63 -0.08 +0.03
South Korea 33 +1.17 -0.08
France 63 +0.05 -0.09
England 67 -0.05 -0.19
Netherlands 48 -0.4 -0.30
Poland 32 -0.64 -0.45
Croatia 22 -0.67 -0.63
Uruguay 53 -0.85 -0.65
Portugal 28 -1.28 -0.73

But I hear you. How does this relate to betting?


Betting on Warm Weather Nations At The World Cup

So to conclude the analysis I took a look at the performance of nations in both cold, moderate and warm climate World Cups, matching up nations from warm nations opposing those from cold and moderate climates.

Here we are considering profit and loss at even stakes, meaning we bet a single unit on each outcome. We are also considering odds averaged at a standard margin of 4.5%. Profits would have been greater if betting at best odds available.

As stated earlier, this data looks at both 1X2 and Asian handicap betting in the last six World Cups played, 1998 to 2018.

Betting on Warm Weather Nations At Cold & Moderate World Cups

Firstly, let’s take a look at the performance of warm weather nations playing in cold and moderate World Cup tournaments against cold and moderate weather nations. These were the World Cups of 1998, 2006, 2010 and 2018.

Table 8:  Performance of Warm Weather Nations in the 1X2 Market in World Cups held in Cold or Moderate Temperatures.

Warm Weather Nations: 1X2 MARKET Profit / Loss ROI %
Win -46.5 -37.50%
Draw -15.87 -12.80%
Loss +9.19 +7.41%
Matches Played 124

We can see that betting against warm weather nations in cold and moderate climates when playing against nations of cold and moderate climates returned a profit of over 9 units in the 1X2 market, a return of +7.4%. While betting on these teams in the 1X2 market would have seen you suffer a loss of -37.5%.

Table 9:  Performance of Warm Weather Nations in the Asian handicap Market in World Cups held in Cold or Moderate Temperatures.

Warm Weather Nations: AH MARKET Profit / Loss ROI %
Win -10.09 -8.14%
Loss +1.97 +1.59%
Matches Played 124

It was similar in the Asian handicap market. Betting against warm teams in cold and moderate climates would have seen a return of +1.6%, while betting on them would have seen a loss of -8.1%. In this category warm weather nations went 59-65 against the handicap line, a win rate of 47.6%.


Betting on Warm Weather Nations At Warm Weather World Cups

Ok, so then let’s look at backing warm weather nations opposing cold and moderate nations in warm weather World Cups. Consider here however we are only talking about two World Cups, those played in 2002 and 2014.

Table 10:  Performance of Warm Weather Nations in the 1X2 Market in World Cups held in Warm Temperatures

Warm Weather Nations: 1X2 MARKET Profit / Loss ROI %
Win +2.69 +4.08%
Draw +5.13 +7.77%
Loss -15.81 -23.95%
Matches Played 66

We can see that in the 1X2 market, backing warm weather teams to win would have returned a profit of +4.1% while betting on them to draw would have returned a profit of +7.8%. Betting on cold or moderate weather nations against warm weather nations in these World Cups would have seen a loss of almost 24%.

In the Asian handicap market betting on warm weather nations against cold and moderate weather nations would have returned a profit of just under 7% while betting against them would have seen a loss of -12.6%. In Asian handicap betting warm weather nations went 36-30 against the line for a strike rate of 54.5%.

Table 11:  Performance of Warm Weather Nations in the Asian handicap Market in World Cups held in Warm Temperatures

Warm Weather Nations: AH MARKET Profit / Loss ROI %
Win +4.59 +6.95%
Loss -8.34 -12.64%
Matches Played 66

Matches to Consider during the 2022 World Cup

The 2022 World Cup will be played in Qatar, a nation with an average November/December temperature of roughly 22 degrees, 25 degrees in November and 20 degrees in December.

With this analysis in mind I have identified a number of matches to consider when betting on the 2022 World Cup.

However, please remember that past performance of such trends is no guarantee of future performance. Further, keep in mind that we are talking about relatively small sample sizes.

With that said, here is the list of matches for this upcoming World Cup.

Group Warm Weather NATION vs Other Weather Date
A Senegal vs Netherlands 21-Nov-2022
C Mexico vs Poland 22-Nov-2022
C Saudi Arabia vs Argentina 22-Nov-2022
D Australia vs France 22-Nov-2022
D Tunisia vs Denmark 22-Nov-2022
E Costa Rica vs Spain 23-Nov-2022
G Brazil vs Serbia 24-Nov-2022
G Cameroon vs Switzerland 24-Nov-2022
H Ghana vs Portugal 24-Nov-2022
A Educador vs Netherlands 25-Nov-2022
C Mexico vs Argentina 26-Nov-2022
C Saudi Arabia vs Poland 26-Nov-2022
E Costa Rica vs Japan 27-Nov-2022
G Brazil vs Switzerland 28-Nov-2022
G Cameroon vs Serbia 28-Nov-2022
H Ghana vs South Korea 28-Nov-2022
A Qatar vs Netherlands 29-Nov-2022
D Australia vs Denmark 30-Nov-2022
D Tunisia vs France 30-Nov-2022
E Costa Rica vs Germany 1-Dec-2022
H Ghana vs Uruguay 2-Dec-2022

Conclusion: Take the Weather Into Account

In this analysis, we saw that warm weather nations improve performance when playing in warm weather World Cups as opposed to their performance when playing in cold and moderate climates.

We also saw that warm weather nations proved to be profitable to back in warm weather World Cups when facing nations from cold or moderate nations.

Again, please remember that past performance of these trends is no guarantee of future performance. Likewise, we are talking about relatively small sample sizes.

However, it appears it may pay to keep the weather in mind when betting on the 2022 World Cup. Good luck and please, gamble safely.


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