The Opta Million FIFA World Cup Bracket Maker game is officially live and gives you the chance to win a huge prize of $1,000,000. Even better, it takes just minutes to complete and it’s absolutely free to enter. Simply predict the order of each World Cup 2022 group and the outcome of every knockout fixture correctly to win.

Sounds easy right? Obviously not. But fear not, we’re here to help you.

Here, we give you some vital tips and information to keep in mind when making your World Cup bracket selections. Good luck – you’ll need it.

World Cup Bracket Maker: Tip 1

The Champions’ Curse

A lot of people will find it hard to look past France when making their World Cup bracket selections – the defending world champions have a star-studded squad with names like Kylian Mbappé, Karim Benzema and Antoine Griezmann.

They will surely make it through to the round of 16, right? Wrong. Nothing is a given at the FIFA World Cup and France could fall foul to the curse of the reigning champion. Opta Million players should consider that the last three World Cup defending champions have been knocked out in the group stage (Italy 2010, Spain 2014, Germany 2018)

On paper, you’d think that it shouldn’t be too hard for France to make it out of the group stage with opponents Australia, Denmark and Tunisia in Group D to contend with. However, it’s not a forgone conclusion they’ll finish top having lost to fellow group members Denmark (2-0) less than two months ago in the UEFA Nations League. Of course, recent injuries to Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante shouldn’t be overlooked when making your selections either.  

No nation has won back-to-back men’s World Cup tournaments since Brazil in 1958 and 1962 – are you really that confident that France can end that 60-year run?

World Cup Bracket Maker: Tip 2

Will it Finally Come Home?

Thinking of picking England to go far in your Opta Million bracket? Consider this: they are winless in their last six games in all competitions (D3 L3), their longest run since April-June 1993 (also six). Worryingly for Gareth Southgate, this is their longest ever winless run going into a major tournament.

But teams can turn it around at a World Cup. Take Brazil in 2002 as an example. Heading into the tournament in Japan and South Korea, the South American giants had won just six of their previous 17 competitive internationals (D3 L8) and suffered embarrassment at the 2001 Copa America 11 months before the 2002 World Cup tournament – losing 1-0 in the quarter-finals against unfancied Honduras.

Factor in the reality that England are also the only European team to have reached the semi-finals in each of the last two major tournaments (losing to Croatia in the World Cup 2018 semis and the Euro 2020 final against Italy), and they also had the best goal difference in the group stage of European qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, scoring 39 goals and conceding only three (+36).

With potentially tricky opponents in the form of defensively solid Iran, home nation rivals Wales and a Unites States team with something to prove, will England be able to withstand the pressure to progress via the top two in the Group B standings and beyond in Qatar?

World Cup Bracket Maker England

World Cup Bracket Maker: Tip 3

Always the Bridesmaid

No side has featured in as many finals of the tournament as Netherlands without ever lifting the trophy, having finished as runners-up in 1974, 1978 and most recently against Spain in 2010. But could this be the year they finally end that drought?

This Netherlands team is very strong with world class players like Frankie De Jong, Memphis Depay and Virgil van Dijk to call upon, and they are in a great run of form coming into the competition (WDWWW).

The Dutch have AFCON winners Senegal in their first Group A fixture which might be a red flag for some, even if their all-time top scorer Sadio Mané looks certain to miss out through injury.

The Netherlands’ fans should take comfort in the fact that they have never lost their opening group stage game at FIFA World Cup tournament (W6 D2 L0), and their last defeat in a World Cup group stage came in 1994 against Belgium (0-1).

World Cup Bracket Maker: Tip 4

Is a Brazil Win an Inevitability?

Our World Cup predictor has Brazil as favourites to win the competition at 16.3%, which won’t be too surprising considering their illustrious World Cup history. Brazil have won the competition more often than any other team (five) and are unbeaten in their last 15 World Cup games overall (W12, D3).

They’ve lost just one of their last 29 matches coming into the tournament, but that was against Lionel Messi’s Argentina in the 2021 Copa America finals – a game when it mattered the most. Can they exorcise those ghosts in Qatar? We’ll see.

The World Cup specialists have topped their first-round group in every single World Cup since 1982 and last failed to progress past the first round in 1966. But progression this year is not a forgone conclusion to say the least.

Brazil have one of the hardest paths in the competition. On paper, many would expect a team containing world class talents such as Neymar, Vinicius Jr, Marquinhos and Alisson to cruise through the group stage in this tournament, but should they get past Switzerland, Serbia and Cameroon in Group G, they’ll face opponents from the ‘Group of Death’ in the round of 16, which looks likely to be either Spain or Germany. Not so easy, eh.

World Cup Bracket Maker Brazil

World Cup Bracket Maker: Tip 5

The Ronaldo Effect

Portugal’s recent World Cup appearances have been disappointing on the whole. While they reached the semi-finals in 2006 before losing in the third place playoff, group stage exits in 2002 and 2014 and round of 16 knockouts in 2010 and 2018 have sent the Portuguese home early.

They’ve only won three of their last 14 matches in World Cup tournaments (D6 L5) and each of those have been in the group stage.

Yes, they do have tournament pedigree after their superb 2016 European Championship title win against France in the final in Paris, but they’ll need talisman Cristiano Ronaldo to perform well in what is likely to be his final World Cup.

He’s looking to become the first man to score in five different FIFA World Cup tournaments and overtake the trio of players in the rankings that he currently shares the record with: Brazilian striker Pele and German pair Miroslav Klose and Uwe Seeler. Should Portugal progress through a group stage containing Ghana, Uruguay and South Korea, they’ll likely need Ronaldo to do something he’s never done before – score or assist in a World Cup knockout match. The Manchester United striker has played six World Cup knockout games, with 514 minutes on the pitch and attempting 25 shots, but he’s never scored or assisted in any of these.