World Cup Predictions: What History Tells Us

spain 2010 world cup

With less than one month to go until the 2014 World Cup kicks off, speculation on the winner is rampant but as we know from past events, the finals will always offer surprises, and no amount of analysis or preview content can tell us how it will turn out in advance. But can history?

Well, no, not completely. But there are some pretty telling historical trends that could come into play in Brazil this summer. So here’s a look at five historically influenced predictions.

A European Team Will Not Win

Despite the nearly decade-long dominance of Spain on the international stage and the immense strength of the German national team, many are making the prediction that a European side will not win the World Cup. It’s easy to understand why, in the six previous World Cups on the continent, a South American team has won each time. This is fairly strong historical evidence against the European teams, though it also seems like a trend bound to be broken at some point.

Brazil Will Win Its First Match

This one sounds about as obvious as it gets, and it’s certainly tough to imagine the Brazilian team falling short against Croatia on June 12 in Sao Paulo. However, this prediction is about more than the current Brazil team and host situation. In the World Cup 2014 news at Betfair, it was noted that no host nation has ever lost a World Cup opener, including weaker hosts like South Africa in 2010. Brazil certainly won’t be the team to break this streak.

Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo Will Need Help

Widely regarded as the two best players in the world (or at least the two most prolific scorers), Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are expected by some fans to carry their teams at times. The duo are the last two winners of the Ballon d’Or (or FIFA player of the year award), but FIFA, in a breakdown of 13 interesting World Cup facts, made this observation about top players: of 43 Ballon d’Or winners in history, only 11 managed to win a World Cup, with the most recent example being Fabio Cannavaro in 2006, with Italy. This doesn’t mean a top player can’t carry his team, and Messi’s Argentina side is essentially the co-favourite with Brazil—but don’t expect Cristiano Ronaldo or Messi to do the job alone.

England’s Youth Won’t Prevail

Roy Hodgson has compiled England’s youngest ever World Cup roster, and while the Three Lions have a difficult group to compete with, there’s some optimism surrounding the team. In his ESPN article, Paul Carr made a pretty devastating case against youth and inexperience in World Cup play. Carr looked at the average age of rosters as the tournament progresses through rounds, and the average years of World Cup experience per team as the tournament moves through the knockout stages. Both show that age and experience prevail, which could spell doom for England.

Brazil Will Not Break Attendance Records

Finally, there’s attendance, which could be the biggest question of all. There’s no debating the crowds and enthusiasm that will abound in Brazil this summer. However, actual match attendance could be an issue, due to how hard it is for supporters to travel from Rio and Sao Paulo (where the best international airports are) to some of the more remote host cities. The 1994 World Cup in the U.S. still holds the attendance record and that seems unlikely to change given that the last two Cups—in Germany and South Africa—fell short by hundreds of thousands of fans.
Main image: NickK Flickr

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