An image of Brazil's Neymar is seen on a building REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed/Files
(Reuters) - Brazil are tipped to claim the World Cup for the sixth time in the tournament that kicks off Nov. 20 in Qatar, according to a Reuters poll that last successfully predicted the champions in 2010.
The global survey of 135 football-following market analysts worldwide agreed with the bookmakers that Brazil would triumph for the first time since 2002.
Almost half of respondents expected Brazil to win while 30% were evenly split between France and Argentina. Germany, England and Belgium scored in high single digits.
"Brazil have a big chance this time with the depth and variation in their attack coupled with experience of Casemiro (midfield) and Thiago Silva at the back," said Garima Kapoor, economist at Elara Capital in Mumbai.
Brazilian talent was prominent in the poll results, with the likes of Neymar and Vinicius Jr, who have boasted brilliant starts to the club season, coupled with goalkeeping duo Alisson and Ederson shining as well.
"We assign a probability of 17% to Brazil winning the tournament, which translates into odds of 5-1," wrote Peter Dixon, head of EMEA country risk at Fitch Solutions in London.
Dixon put Germany second at 11% (8-1) and France third at 8% (11-1).
His calculations differ from bookmakers odds, which have England as third favourite compared to Dixon's 4% chance, largely because bookies' odds are calculated based on how much they would need to pay out, not probabilities.
Forecasters in previous years also used quant models while others used simpler methods such as guesswork and superstition.
EA Sports - creator of the FIFA gaming franchise and which has correctly predicted winners of the previous three World Cups by simulating all 64 matches on their game - said Argentina would lift the trophy.
Argentina, undefeated since losing to Brazil in July 2019, are closing in on Italy's record of the longest unbeaten streak for any team in international football.
Almost 50% of responses came from Europe, followed by North America and Asia with around 15% each. South American predictions made up just above 10% and the rest were from Africa, Australia or New Zealand.
Spain's victory at the 2010 tournament in South Africa was the last Reuters survey to correctly predict the winner. Economists failed to forecast Italy's fourth title in 2006 or the last two won by Germany and France.
If France were to retain the trophy they would be the first to do so since Brazil in 1962.
England's continual failure to bring the trophy home for the first time since 1966 has not discouraged 5% of forecasters saying they would do so this year.
"Having failed to build on the robust momentum that propelled the nation to the final of Euro 2020, the perennial flops England can only hope to go past the last 16 this time," said Isaac Matshego, economist at Nedbank in Johannesburg.
Denmark topped the list of underdogs.
Almost half of respondents were split between expecting Lionel Messi or PSG team mate Neymar to win the Golden Ball - awarded to the best player. The Argentine maestro last won it eight years ago in Brazil.
Another PSG man, Kylian Mbappe, was picked as most likely to score the most goals to earn the Golden Boot award.
Qatar has reportedly spent around 220 billion dollars on hosting the tournament - almost fifteen times more than the second-most expensive one - but 41% of respondents said it would have no long-term economic impact.
Almost the same amount said it would be net positive while 21% said it would be negative.
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