Lionel Messi and Neymar are two of the greatest footballers of their generation, but neither has ever lifted the most coveted trophy in the sport. That’s about to change, for one of them, according to Bloomberg’s Mliv Pulse survey.
Messi’s Argentina and Neymar’s Brazil are heading into the World Cup, which has just started in Qatar, as favourites, with more than half of those polled naming one of them as the likely winner. It would be the first time a South American team has won the tournament since 2002.
Brazil’s national team are looking for redemption after a humiliating 7-1 thrashing at home to Germany in the semifinals of the 2014 tournament. That seems a distinct possibility after the team dominated their region during qualifying games, winning 14 of 17 games and conceded just five goals.
“Brazil is the best team on the field,” according to Wells Fargo economists, who built a framework based on 23 different variables including ranking, record and momentum, the value of each team’s players, and the number of times they have played. played. together for the national team. “Our analysis suggests that Brazil is better than Argentina by the smallest possible margin.”
The Argentine squad is dominated by Messi, Neymar’s teammate at Paris Saint-Germain and a seven-time Ballon d’Or winner for best player of the year. Messi said that this next World Cup, the fifth, will be the last.
Messi has suffered frustration internationally: in 2016 he even announced his retirement after losing in the final of a major tournament for the fourth time. But he broke the losing streak when Argentina won the Copa América continental title last year, raising hopes that he can conquer the biggest stage of all in Qatar.
Although Brazil is the favorite to win the title, 33% of the 720 respondents still expect Messi to pick up the Ballon d’Or award for best player of the tournament. If he does, he will become the first player to do it twice. Just 19% expect Neymar to win it, while 32% back Frenchman Kylian Mbappe, a third player in Paris Saint-Germain’s superstar lineup. Only 7% of those polled expect Cristiano Ronaldo, Messi’s longtime rival for the Ballon d’Or, to take the award.
—England (@England) November 21, 2022
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Meanwhile, some respondents predict that the recent economic and political pessimism in Britain will affect the England team as well. The UK is in its third prime minister this year after Boris Johnson lost his party backing, and then his successor Liz Truss was also forced to resign after torpedoing bond markets with her first major political announcement. . Inflation is the highest in 41 years and the country is headed for recession, if it isn’t already there.
Some 32% of MLIV Pulse respondents predicted that England will be the first of half a dozen top contenders to be kicked out of the competition. That would be a radical departure from four years ago, when England posted their best result since 1990 by reaching the World Cup semi-finals. But it may not come as a surprise to English fans, whose memories go back a little further: to 2014, when England were knocked out after just two games.