Group exit looms, predict statisticians

OPTIMISTIC England fans look away now: the Three Lions only have a four per cent chance of winning the World Cup this summer, according to number-crunching experts.

Roy Hodgson’s men are most likely to exit the tournament at the group stage, while Wayne Rooney is the man set to be at the centre of all the action – the striker is the England player most likely to win the golden boot, but also to be sent off or miss a penalty.

The probabilities have been worked out by Airton Risk Management, who price up likely outcomes of major tournaments to help sports organisations and sponsors offset financial risk. Airton, a division of bookmakers Paddy Power, recreated every match of Brazil 2014 more than a million times using a simulation model to predict outcomes.

There is a 14 per cent chance that a penalty shoot-out will again spell the end of England’s participation, and a 56 per cent probability that one of Hodgson’s players is sent off at some stage. The manager may also be concerned that there is a 10 per cent likelihood of a boss being sacked during the tournament.

Despite only scoring once in two previous World Cups, Argentina’s Lionel Messi is rated most likely (16 per cent) to finish top scorer, ahead of Brazil’s Neymar (10).