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Football: Brazil tipped to win it all at Russia World Cup, Japan to flop

Brazil are the hot favorites to win a sixth World Cup title in Russia in July, while Japan have very little chance of even escaping their group, according to experts at analytics firm Gracenote Sports.

Giving the South American giants a 21 percent chance of winning it all, Gracenote said Thursday that Brazil’s record of just four losses since the last World Cup, and one since June 2016, means they must be favored to lift the trophy in 2018.

“Spain, Germany and Argentina are ranked as the second, third and fourth best international teams…This trio will likely be Brazil’s main competition for the trophy this summer,” the Dutch-based company’s proprietary prediction system showed.

Japan will not fare well in Group H, they say.

Giving the Samurai Blue just a 29 percent chance of progressing to the round of 16, Gracenote has calculated Akira Nishino’s squad has just a 1 percent probability of reaching the final in Moscow on July 15 and a 0.3 percent hope of winning it.

Ominously for Japan, Gracenote singled out the team’s Group H opponents Colombia as a team that could shock.

“Gracenote’s soccer rankings suggest two potentially surprising teams to go further than many would expect.”

“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 that this year’s finalists will come from outside the remaining five.”

(Japan’s players trudge off the pitch after a 4-1 defeat to Colombia seals their first-round elimination at the 2014 Brazil World Cup)

The company says Colombia, the team they rank fifth in the world, are clear favorites to win Group H and then will have the measure of likely round of 16 opponents England or Belgium. They said Peru will be equally likely to impress as their northern neighbors.

Of the African teams at the tournament, Gracenote thinks Senegal, another Group H team, have the best chance of surviving the first phase, repeating the feat they achieved at their only other World Cup appearance in South Korea and Japan in 2002. Poland, however, are still more likely to join Colombia as the group’s round of 16 representatives.

For people hoping to see a changing of the guard at the World Cup, Gracenote may provide some hope.

The company “calculates there is a 47 percent chance that this year’s World Cup winners will be from a country other than Argentina, Brazil, France, Germany or Spain,” winners of every title since 1970.

(James Rodriguez celebrates after his late goal completed Colombia’s demolition of Japan in Brazil)

All – Kyodo News+

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