# The Ultimate Football Manager 2024 Experiment: Can It Predict The Winner of Euro 2024?

The world of football is vast and Football Manager – the game-within-the-game – is a much-loved fixture. Where football has millionaires, Football Manager is a playground with infinite potential. Since 2004, the game has been acknowledged as an accurate predictor of the next generation of footballing talent, unearthing stars one season and casting them already as the leaders of their sport two decades later. But beyond the individual stories of rising stars, how successful is Football Manager at predicting the outcome of football’s biggest prizes? With the fixture list of Euro 2024 taking shape, I installed Football Manager 2024 to embark on a quest to determine which nation is most likely to win the upcoming tournament, which underdogs will make a surprising impression and which nations will overachieve.

THE PREP WORK: Setting the Virtual Stage

Before the action got underway, there was some preparation to be done. Players’ attributes could be tweaked slightly with a program called Football Manager Real Time Edition (FMRTE), the real-time editing tool, ensuring that the in-game crews matched the real ones as much as possible (with a few exceptions that had to do with the fact that Football Manager doesn’t license the real German national team, so that virtual version is only slightly less authentic).


Although the simulation could generate realistic gameplay, a lot of the results were surprising. Albania, for example, got out of the group stage a few times. They also beat Belgium once in a memorable victory that made Euro 2020 the ‘summer of Albania’. Romania and Denmark did not get out of the second round nearly as often, but they did upset the odds on occasion – giving us false hopes that we might see some of these tech-inspired upsets come to life.


Hidden talents, unexpected team dynamics, ‘heat of the moment’ decisions make the outcome of a single game unpredictable and can change the balance overnight. From Slovakia to Slovenia to the giant-killing team(s) of Turkey, the simulations introduced nations with the surprise power or the fighting spirit to upset the status quo.


The traditional tournament favourites – England, Spain, Portugal, and Italy – applied the airbrush and were how you’d picture them, their virtual squads often reaching the business end of the tournament. But it was France who received Football Manager’s widest endorsement as rulers of Euro 2024, routinely winning the competition in simulated tournaments – an enviable squad and a tactical genius combination.

Star Performers: THE VIRTUAL HEROES OF EURO 2024

Like every thread of every Football Manager sim, the story of Bellingham and every other wonderkid pulls you into a web of individual potential. The Football Manager tournament basked in all the best of footballing personality and potential, led by global megastars such as the devastating goal machine Kylian Mbappé in France, and England’s prodigal son, Jude Bellingham.

Not Just a Game: What Football Manager Teaches Us

Over the course of 50 extensive simulations, Football Manager revealed what could happen at Euro 2024. France playing well above expectations, Switzerland and Ukraine providing surprises, all made sense. The consistency speaks to the richness and granularity of Sports Interactive’s database and algorithmic code. Aesthetic differences aside, games might have real-world impacts in terms of actual tactics, preparation and expectations.


By now we should be fairly familiar with the fabrics that make up this virtual space, and through our forays into the simulated winds of Euro 2024, Football Manager has become something so much more than a game. It’s heuristic, revealing and representative of football’s shifting sands. At its most predictive, it’s an oracle; at its most curious, it’s emblematic of how passion, analysis and the game’s soul-rush might reconvene – perhaps more meaningfully than they ever have – wherever the home of football truly lies.

In other words, even as the pixels and code of Football Manager generate a compelling story about Euro 2024, they also celebrate the enduring appeal of football: its capacity to surprise, inspire, and unite fans in homes across the world. A tactician? A dreamer? A fan of the sport in general? The game is yours for the taking, and its outcomes will be as unpredictable as the story of the sport itself.

Jun 15, 2024
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