The 2018 FIFA World Cup again brings together most of the winning teams since 1930 – Argentina, Brazil, England, France, Germany, Spain and Uruguay – and each in their own group, for a change. In a previous blog we highlighted the link between Sovereign credit and Winter Olympic medal wins; here we compare credit quality and outright winner online betting odds.
The link between country wealth and Olympic performance seems intuitive – golf is now an Olympic event, which has to be good news for the USA, while the British are famously good at sports like rowing and horseriding that involve sitting down on expensive equipment or animals. Having spare cash for special training facilities leverages the broad skill sets that are the signature of developed economies. In football, the link is not as clear and demonstrates the eclectic and democratic nature of the beautiful game. Brazil and Argentina continue to produce a steady stream of naturally gifted team players and have regularly met Germany and France in previous World Cups. Scotland have been known to argue that their lack of any World Cup success is due to their small population, ignoring regular strong performances from Netherlands, Denmark and Croatia.
But the sport is changing – the use of Big Data techniques and real-time player tracking has disturbed the previously level playing field. Brazil would probably argue that their 7-1 demolition at the hands of Germany in the 2014 semi-final was due to such dubious tactics…
The chart shows that previous World Cup winners are still well-favoured, and are joined by Belgium (another small country that has managed to put together a decent team). Labelled countries are those with odds shorter than 100/1. Of the favourites, Germany, France, Belgium and the UK also have strong Sovereign credit quality. Former winner Uruguay is joined by Croatia, Portugal, Colombia and hosts Russia in the midfield for credit and odds. Brazil, Argentina and Spain are the obvious outliers. Hopefully Brazil will have learnt from their 2014 clash with Germany, although Pele would probably take a dim view of any Big Data techniques… Argentina can argue that they have the best current player in the world. Spain have managed to lose their manager on the eve of the tournament, although it is thought that this could improve team morale. It has had little impact on the Spanish odds so far.
England have resolved to be aggressive and brave in this tournament so they will not be upset by this joke from jealous, non-qualifying countries: What is the difference between the England team and a teabag? A teabag stays in the cup longer.