Predicting the World Cup winner: what the bookies are saying and my two cents

This article is a follow-up to my previous one where I used the betting markets as a key determinant to predict the results of group stage matches. In this article I use my judgment (and my seven year old nephew’s) to predict the second stage winners. My group stage match predictions would have resulted in the following second round games:
  • Brazil vs Netherlands
  • Colombia vs England
  • France vs Bosnia-Herzegovina
  • Germany vs Russia
  • Spain vs Mexico
  • Italy vs Japan
  • Argentina vs Switzerland
  • Belgium vs Portugal
The second round is a knock-out stage, which means that a team is eliminated on losing a game. There are four stages to this stage: round of 16, quarter finals (8 teams), semi-finals (4 teams) and final (2 teams). The table below shows the implied probabilities by betting markets for the top ten teams to reach these different stages. I also included the probabilities for the good old USA, for the sake of our American readers as well as Mexico, for the sake of my seven year old nephew. As of Wednesday 4 June, the betting markets are placing Brazil as the favourite to win the cup at around 23% chance. Brazil is more likely than not to at least reach the semi-final (54% chance). Argentina is the closest challenger with Germany and Spain following suit.
  Probabilities as of 4 June 2014
Winning Group Qualifying to Winning the World Cup
2nd Round Quarter Final Semi Final Final
Brazil 79% 95% 71% 54% 37% 23%
Argentina 78% 95% 76% 51% 31% 17%
Germany 58% 85% 67% 44% 24% 13%
Spain 57% 84% 57% 40% 24% 13%
Belgium 56% 82% 44% 22% 10% 4%
France 54% 81% 49% 22% 9% 4%
England 30% 61% 36% 14% 7% 3%
Italy 36% 68% 41% 18% 8% 3%
Portugal 28% 66% 38% 18% 7% 3%
Netherlands 22% 57% 25% 13% 6% 3%
Mexico 9% 38% 10% 4% 1% 0.4%
USA 6% 24% 10% 3% 1% 0.3%

I would place all American teams to qualify for the quarter finals; that is Brazil, Colombia and Mexico to beat Netherlands, England and Spain respectively. Having England and Spain eliminated at this stage is a risk, but again I have been assured that Mexico are a really good team. The quarter finals as per my predictions would be:

  • Brazil vs Colombia which is won by Brazil,
  • Bosnia-Herzegovina vs Germany which is won by the ever-present Germany,
  • Mexico vs Italy which is won by Mexico,  and
  • Argentina vs Belgium which is won by Argentina.

Both Brazil and Germany have had successful campaigns in the past and it is very strange to note that they have only faced each other once during past World Cups: the 2002 World Cup final that was won by Brazil 2-0. My prediction would result in their second encounter in semi-final stage and I would expect Brazil to win again. In conclusion, I predict an all-South American Final: Brazil vs Argentina with Argentina getting the upper hand. This would not go down well in the host nation, especially given the precedent of the last time Brazil hosted the World Cup in 1950, when they were beaten in the final by their continent rivals Uruguay.

What about your predictions? If you are organizing an office pool and need a World Cup schedule or would like to participate in a free one, head on to