FURTHER evidence of Brazil's chances of securing a record sixth World Cup came from economists at Goldman Sachs today, who predicted the hosts would beat Argentina 3-1 in the final.
England's half a century of hurt seems set to continue though, as detailed analysis from the City firm forecast that they would exit at the group stage, finishing third behind Italy and Uruguay. Roy Hodgson's side have just a 1.4 per cent chance of lifting the trophy compared to the hosts' 48.5 per cent probability of winning in Rio.
Argentina are second favourites with a 14.1 per chance, while holders Spain are expected to be knocked out in the semi-finals alongside Germany, according to "The World Cup and Economics 2014" report.
It concluded: "Since its sole World Cup victory in 1966, English fans have suffered almost 50 years of continual disappointment. What is unusual about the lead-up to this World Cup is that the views of English and non-English are very closely aligned regarding the prospects for the England team: pretty much everybody agrees that England will do badly. The problem for England is that the team somehow manages to add up to less than the sum of its parts."
The authors harbour at least some hope for English success, recommending an each-way bet for the side to get to the semi-finals. They said: "Freed from the burden of high expectations, perhaps this is the World Cup in which the team gels and manages to deliver on the potential implied by its individuals."
Comparing the importance of football versus economics, Goldman's Kevin Daly said: "In the (unlikely) event that England wins the 2014 World Cup, we doubt that many in 2062 will remember whether the economy performed well or badly this year but everyone will remember the World Cup. Business cycles come and go, football is forever."
The firm's economists also selected a World Cup dream team that did not feature a single England player. Argentina's Lionel Messi and Portugal's Christiano Ronaldo appeared alongside three Brazilians, two Germans, two Spaniards, and one each from France and Belgium with the latter's Chelsea midfielder Eden Hazard the only Premiership player to make the list.
Goldman Sachs has form for accurate sports predictions: prior to London 2012 it foresaw Team GB winning 30 gold medals and 65 medals overall. They won 29 golds and 65 overall making the 3-1 currently on offer in most bookmakers for Brazil even more attractive.
However, the last edition of Goldman's World Cup series also picked Brazil to win in South Africa in 2010. They were knocked out in the quarter-finals to the Netherlands who went on to lose to Spain in the final.
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