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Five-time World Cup winner Brazil is the favorite to lift the FIFA World Cup trophy in Moscow on July 15, according to Gracenote, the world’s leading entertainment data company. Our predictions for what looks to be an open World Cup give the Brazilian team just over a 22% chance of winning this year’s competition.

Brazil is ranked number one in the world by Gracenote after losing just four matches since the last World Cup four years ago, and only one since June 2016.

Spain, Germany and Argentina are ranked as the second, third and fourth best international teams heading into this year’s World Cup. This trio will likely be Brazil’s main competition for the trophy this summer.

The draw has not been kind to Argentina. They will come up against 2010 World Champions Spain as early as the quarter-finals if both win their groups. If France tops Group C, the French will not meet another winner of the last 12 World Cups until the semi-finals provided the other four previous winners all finish first in their respective groups.

Almost a 50/50 Chance of a “New” Winner

The World Cup finals have featured the same seven European and Latin American countries since 1966. Of those seven, Italy and the Netherlands failed to qualify for this year’s competition in Russia. Gracenote calculates there is a 47% chance that this year’s World Cup winners will be from a country other than Argentina, Brazil, France, Germany or Spain. A team from that quintet of countries present in Russia (plus the absent Italy) has won every World Cup from 1970 onwards.

Knockout Phase to be Dominated by Europe and Latin America

European and Latin American teams should dominate the knockout phase. However, the African nation Senegal in Group H has the best chance of breaking that hegemony. When the number of teams is reduced from 32 to 16 for the second phase of the World Cup, Gracenote expects 10 of those 16 teams to be from Europe, five from South America and one from Central America.

Colombia and Peru Potential Surprise Packages

Only seven teams have reached the final of the last 12 World Cups. With two of those teams – Italy and the Netherlands – absent from the 2018 competition, there is a good chance (81%) that at least one of this year’s finalists will come from outside the remaining five and Gracenote’s football (soccer) rankings suggest two potentially surprising teams to go further than many would expect.

 Colombia

Ranked number 7 in the world by Gracenote, Colombia reached the quarter-finals of the last World Cup where they were beaten by Brazil. Colombia is the favourite to be the winners of Group H which also contains Poland, Senegal and Japan. Second round opponents for Colombia will probably be England or Belgium, both of which are currently ranked below the Colombians on the Gracenote world ranking.

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 Peru 

Ranked as the world’s fifth best national team by Gracenote, Peru should progress to the second phase of the competition from Group C and may even challenge France for the top spot. If Peru wins the group, their second phase opponents would probably be Croatia or Iceland, both of which were beaten by Peru in recent friendlies in the United States. Avoiding Argentina in the second round fixture would be beneficial to Peru’s chances, although both previous qualification matches between the teams ended in a draw.

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Chance of reaching last 16

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The Gracenote Football Ranking

Gracenote Sports originally developed its proprietary football ranking in 2002. The methodology based on the Elo system which is used for ranking chess players has been fine-tuned over the intervening 16 years. Every time two teams compete, one “wins” points from the other depending on the result and the following: 1) the winning margin, 2) which team is at “home,” and 3) the relative strength of the two teams playing. Gracenote also weighs the number of points which change hands by the importance of the competition and match. For example, FIFA World Cup matches and continental championships are considered more important than friendlies.

If Brazil (ranked number one) wins 1-0 in a friendly on neutral ground against 28th ranked Costa Rica, Brazil will improve its rating by relatively few points as that result is expected. However, if Germany hypothetically beat Brazil 7-1 in a World Cup match in Rio de Janeiro, Germany’s rating would improve considerably at the expense of Brazil as both teams were matched well and the margin of victory was large.

The Gracenote World Cup Prediction

The ratings within the ranking of football teams can be used to estimate the percentage chance of each match at the 2018 World Cup being a win, draw or loss for each of the teams. These percentages are then fed into a simulation of the World Cup which we run one million times to produce estimates of the chance that each team reaches a particular stage of the competition.

During the 2018 World Cup, the simulation will be run after each day’s results to produce a new forecast which takes account of the latest information.

About Gracenote

Gracenote, a Nielsen Company, provides music, video and sports metadata and technology to the world’s hottest entertainment products, services and brands. The Gracenote Sports team captures, curates and distributes in-depth sports data, including live scores, play-by-play stats and results, for more than 4,500 leagues and global competitions, including FIFA World Cup, the Olympics, English Premier League and North American leagues such as the NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL. All of this information is used by the biggest media companies and major sports organizations to keep fans engaged with their favorite players and teams across the Web, mobile and pay-TV platforms. For more information, visit www.gracenote.com.

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