Oct 20, 2022
Oct 20, 2022

World Cup 2022: Will weather impact performance in Qatar?

Weather at the Qatar World Cup

How the weather at the World Cup may influence your betting

Humidity and temperature at the Qatar World Cup

Qatar World Cup weather: Three teams to watch

World Cup 2022: Will weather impact performance in Qatar?

Will European nations struggle in the intense heat? Can lower-ranked teams pull off an upset with the weather on their side? Joseph Buchdal analyses how the unique heat and humidity in Qatar may benefit a few nations at the 2022 World Cup.

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Weather at the Qatar World Cup

When Qatar won the rights to stage the 2022 World Cup, many people were left scratching their heads, wondering how players and fans would be able to cope with the exceptionally high summer temperatures experienced in the emirate at that time of year.

The average daily maximum temperatures for June and July (when a World Cup usually takes place) are an eye-popping 42 degrees Celsius and can reach as high as 50 degrees Celsius.

Humidity may average between 60-70%.

Unsurprisingly, the decision was made to move the World Cup to the winter months. It will now be held in November and December, months that have an average temperature of around 25 degrees Celsius – more typical of Europe in early summer. Nevertheless, humidity levels during this cooler time of year can still be notoriously high and unpleasant, averaging between 60 and 70%.

Despite the cooler temperatures, these conditions would still prove to be very challenging for most competing nations. Northern hemisphere club players, in addition, would be transitioning from much colder playing conditions.

Playing in such humid conditions increases sweat loss and excretion of sodium, a key electrolyte, from the body. Excessive loss can dramatically influence performance unless levels are replaced.

To combat the challenging conditions, even in Qatar’s winter months, games will be played in climate-controlled stadiums. All eight of the venues will be air conditioned via grills built into the stands and nozzles down at pitch-side, designed to benefit both players and spectators.

Will the weather at the Qatar World Cup provide an advantage?

Despite the obvious energy requirements for such an undertaking, Saud Abdulaziz Abdul Ghani, a professor of engineering at Qatar University nicknamed "Dr Cool", has assured everyone that the whole infrastructure will be powered by solar energy.

We should remind ourselves that the job of any good bettor is to find expected value, not necessarily winners.

With a winter tournament and air conditioning, it’s likely that the impact of Qatar’s climate will not be as great as had been originally anticipated. Nevertheless, players won’t be spending all the time playing football; some of the time, at least, players will be subjected to conditions that are very different to the conditions most of them will be leaving behind.

With this in mind, perhaps it’s still worth considering which nations and players will be better suited to playing in Qatar. I have picked out three which may be happier in the prevailing climatological conditions.

Whilst it’s still unlikely that any of them will win outright, we should remind ourselves that the job of any good bettor is to find expected value, not necessarily winners. Should any of these teams progress beyond expectation, there are always possibilities for hedging your bets (for example, if they make it out of the group stage).

Uruguay

Coming from pot two in the World Cup group draw, and thus effectively the second seeds of their group, Uruguay were drawn with Portugal, Ghana, and South Korea in Group H, arguably one of the easier groups. Uruguay’s climate is classified as humid subtropical. Thus, their players will be familiar with the conditions they can expect to experience in Qatar.

Despite winning the first World Cup in 1930 and a second in 1950, Uruguay have often seemed better than they actually were in more recent times. This year, however, they have a very promising squad, with the majority of players experienced at the very top of club-level European football.

This includes World Cup veterans such as Luis Suárez and Edinson Cavani, and some exciting young players like Liverpool’s Darwin Núñez, Trabzonspor’s Maxi Gómez, Real Madrid’s Federico Valverde, and Tottenham’s Rodrigo Bentancur.

If they can win their group and avoid the likely winners of Group G, Brazil, in the round of 16, a quarter-final spot should be considered a realistic possibility. Uruguay are priced at 51.170* by Pinnacle to win the World Cup.

Senegal

Senegal, the reigning African Nations champions, currently boast a golden generation of players in their ranks. In 2002, their first World Cup appearance, they famously defeated the World Champions France, before reaching the quarter-final stage.

Sadio Mané (formerly of Liverpool and now Bayern Munich), Édouard Mendy (Chelsea’s goalkeeper and arguably one of the best in the world), Kalidou Koulibaly (also Chelsea) and Idrissa Gueye (Everton) have all won matches at the highest level of club competition.

Senegal, in West Africa, typically experiences a June to October wet season, where humidity is even higher than in the winter months of Qatar, and the mean temperature is in the high-20s Celsius.

Their squad, therefore, should feel completely at home in the conditions during the Word Cup. Senegal, drawn from pot three, share Group A with hosts Qatar, Ecuador, and the Netherlands.

Coming second in the group to the favourites, the Netherlands, would likely mean facing England in the next round but avoiding them would mean a game against Iran, USA, or Wales to make it to another quarter-final. Senegal are priced at 66.250* by Pinnacle to win the World Cup.

Ecuador

Two recent 1-1 draws against World Cup favourites Brazil at the Copa America in June 2021 and more recently in their World Cup qualifier in January 2022 suggest that Brazilian coach Tite’s belief that Ecuador could cause a few surprises at this year’s World Cup should not be dismissed.

Indeed, Ecuador scored more goals during World Cup qualifying than all other CONMEBOL teams except Brazil and Argentina (who they tied with on 27 goals), finishing ahead of Chile, Colombia, and Peru.

Ecuador lies just to the south of the equator and has a humid subtropical climate in much of the low-lying country. Whilst the team cannot boast the big-name stars of the more favoured nations, a number of talented players are beginning to get noticed, in particular Moisés Caicedo, Pervis Estupiñán, and Jeremy Sarmiento of Brighton & Hove Albion, Leonardo Campana of Wolves (currently on loan at MLS side Inter Miami), and Piero Hincapié of Bayer Leverkusen.

Also in Group A with Senegal, the Netherlands, and Qatar, the likelihood is that only one of Senegal and Ecuador will make it into the second round. But with Pinnacle pricing them at 151.570* to win the World Cup, a bet on Ecuador might be considered a reasonable group stage hedge bet alongside any bet on Senegal.

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