Football

Swiss bank predicts Germany will defend crown

Forecasters at UBS see a 24% probability that Germany, which won the 2014 World Cup, will win in 2018 too.   | Photo Credit: AFP

Every four years some economists turn their talent for making predictions about global finance to the topic of the World Cup. Will Iceland or Panama lift the trophy this year, or perhaps host Russia?

Forecasters at Swiss bank UBS on Thursday came up with a more, well, predictable choice — Germany.

UBS sees a 24% percent probability that Germany, which won in 2014 will win the July 15 final, with Brazil and Spain the next most likely teams to succeed, with a 19.8% and 16.1% chance respectively.

“Germany and Brazil are set for an easy start, while Spain will have to hit the ground running if they are to beat Portugal, the current European champions, in their opening game,” said Michael Bolliger, head of emerging market asset allocation in a report that used econometric forecasting tools.

Russia, meanwhile, is likely to make it to the round-of-16 before losing to either Spain or Portugal.

The predictions by the world’s biggest wealth manager was based on a statistical model using the results from the previous five tournaments and controlling for factors such as team strength and success in the qualification phase.

UBS said England, France, Belgium and Argentina could still provide some surprises in the World Cup.

Surprised by call-up

Liverpool defender Trent Alexander-Arnold said club manager Juergen Klopp surprised him with the news of his inclusion in England’s 23-man squad for the World Cup. The 19-year-old has had an impressive breakthrough campaign for Liverpool, featuring in nine Champions League matches, including the quarterfinal win over Manchester City and the semifinal victory against AS Roma, and 19 league games.

“I found out this morning, just before we came out to Marbella. The manager came and spoke to me just as we were getting on the plane,” Alexander-Arnold, currently in a training camp in Spain, told Liverpool’s website.

Klopp, who handed Alexander-Arnold his Liverpool debut in 2016, was equally proud of the teenager and says the call-up was a great way to top off a special season.

Selection dilemma

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said Brazil faces a selection dilemma whether to start with his team’s striker Gabriel Jesus or Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino at the World Cup.

Jesus scored 17 goals across all competitions for Premier League champion City this season while Firmino has netted 27 to help Liverpool secure a fourth-placed league finish and reach the Champions League final.

Brazil manager Tite suggested during his squad announcement on Monday that Jesus’ record of nine goals in 15 international matches could see the 21-year-old start over Firmino at the World Cup.

Guardiola, however, remained neutral on the selection debate, saying both players had their qualities.

Tunisia is Africa’s No. 1

World Cup qualifiers Tunisia remained the No. 1 national team in Africa when the monthly FIFA rankings were released on Thursday.

The ‘Carthage Eagles’ is 14th in the overall placings and the lone African nation among a top 20 headed by World Cup title-holder Germany.

Tunisia and Panama start as outsiders in a World Cup group completed by Belgium and former champions England.

Since debuting in 1978 in Argentina with a 3-1 victory over Mexico, Tunisia has failed to win a World Cup match in 11 attempts.

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Printable version | May 13, 2021 8:28:07 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/football/swiss-bank-predicts-germany-will-defend-crown/article23918045.ece

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