Germany will defend its title, Brazil is expected to make it to the finals and Lionel Messi will score the most goals, according to a Reuters poll of financial specialists more used to predicting market moves.
In the latest survey of regular Reuters poll participants from across the globe, Germany’s national soccer team got the highest number of nods - 43 out of 145 analysts - to lift the trophy next month.
“Germany have a good combination of skill and discipline and are not overly dominated by any one star player, but rather a high level of players throughout,” said Frank Blackmore, chief economist at EFConsult in Johannesburg.
Brazil placed second with 37 votes, evoking prospects of a final between the two long-term rivals.
Luiz Roberto Monteiro, a trader at Renascença brokerage in Sao Paulo, said many people wanted Brazil to win “because there’s a lot at stake after the Germany fiasco.”
Four years ago, Germany humiliated then hosts Brazil in a crushing 7-1 defeat.
“Brazil depend too much on a small number of players, particularly (star forward) Neymar. It’s a good team, but I don’t think they’ll get past the semifinals,” said Monteiro.
Meanwhile, UBS sees a 24 percent probability current title-holder Germany wins the July 15 final, with Brazil and Spain the next most likely teams to succeed, with a 19.8 percent and 16.1 percent chance respectively.
The bank’s modeling also gave a 60 percent chance that one of those three teams would win.
A March survey by JP Morgan, conducted with 100 clients at a Paris conference, also placed Germany as champions.
In the Reuters survey, Spain got ten votes for winning, fewer than might have been expected for a consistently high-performance side that won in 2010 South Africa edition.
However, they do face a testing opener against European champions Portugal, a match that will probably determine who finishes top of Group B, which also contains Iran and Morocco.
While for Russia, the poll suggests it has little chance of keeping the trophy at home, with most respondents saying the country would at least make it to the round of 16 and the competition would give a small lift to the economy.
World Cup hosts have only lifted the trophy five times in the history of the 88-year old competition: Uruguay in 1930, Italy four years later, England in 1966, Argentina in 1978 and France in 1988.
At the same time, the journey of Egypt, known as “The Pharaohs,” is unclear since their talisman Mohamed Salah got injured recently. He is now a doubt for one or more of Egypt’s group games.
Last but not least, Barcelona’s Argentinian striker Lionel Messi, who has scored over 600 senior career goals for club and country, is expected to win the Golden Boot - an award for top goalscorer of the championship, last won by Colombia’s James Rodriguez in Brazil.
Some economists relied on their standard econometric modeling skills to predict the World Cup’s outcome, but Peter Dixon at Commerzbank who ran 10,000 stochastic simulations, admitted that the prediction might not be reliable.
“I guess the point is that in a rational world in which the form book rules, one of Brazil or Germany should win, but somewhere amongst the simulations there may well be a universe in which Saudi Arabia beats Panama in the final. The very fact there is a random element is one of the reasons why we may well be wrong, and why sports like football hold such a deep fascination.”
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