The bankers on Wall Street might have just given you the keys to completing the perfect bracket.
A detailed analysis by international investing heavyweight Goldman Sachs has projected host nation Brazil as the odds-on favorites to win this summer's World Cup, giving the five-time world champions a whopping 48.5 percent likelihood of triumph.
Argentina are given the next-highest chance of victory at 14.1 percent, while the United States' Group G adversaries Germany follow at 11.4 percent. As for the Yanks themselves? The USMNT is given just a 0.5 percent likelihood of winning it all.
Defending champions Spain have a 9.8 percent chance to keep hold of soccer's highest honor, reckons the investment bank, while the Netherlands come in at 5.6 percent. Group D rivals Italy (1.5 percent), England (1.4 percent) and Uruguay (1.1 percent) are the only other participants given more than fraction of a percentage point to win the tournament.
Goldman Sachs usually devotes its substantial number-crunching capacities to stocks, bonds and the like. But this year they've researched results in every “mandatory international” match – meaning no friendlies or exhibitions – since 1960 in search of a sound statistical basis for predicting this summer's champion.
“This gives us about 14,000 observations to estimate the coefficients of our model,” explained Goldman Sachs. “The dependent variable in the regression analysis is the number of goals scored by each side in each match.”
It's all part of the bank's wider World Cup report, which also examines the tournament's impact on, and intersection with, global economics.
Bear in mind that these odds are strictly based on past results and do not account for injuries, form and so on.
“To be clear, our model does not use any information on the quality of teams or individual players that is not reflected in a team’s track record,” said the report. “For example, if a key player who was responsible for a team’s recent successes is injured, this will have no bearing on our predictions. There is also no role for human judgment as the approach is purely statistical.”