Do the sums: Brazil to win, England third

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The Independent Online

It's all over before it's even started - German economists have predicted that England will lose the World Cup.

The Cologne-based Institute for German Economics, a well-regarded, government-funded research body, has calculated that Brazil will beat Italy in the final, with England having to settle for third place after defeating Holland.

The institute sees a link between the money spent by teams and their success. "The top six German clubs spent an average of €37.3m (£25.6m) on players' wages, while the bottom six spent only €16.8m. The best-paying teams in other European leagues also won the titles and trophies."

Basing their predictions on current wages, age and "sporting perspective", the economists calculate that the €262m Brazilian team will beat the Italians, worth €251m, in the final. England, with the second-most valuable team (€256m) but the third most valuable squad (€344m), will lose to Brazil in the semi-finals. Germany face defeat by the Dutch in the quarter-finals.

But while there is not much hope for England fans, there is better news for Germany. "The squad of Jürgen Klinsmann can always pin their hopes on home advantage," says the institute.

It claims experience shows that home advantage takes a team precisely 2.5 rounds further than it would otherwise achieve. That would put the Germans in the final and explain England's last victory at Wembley in 1966.