UK & World News
World Cup: Seven Ways To Predict The Winners
What do Stephen Hawking, Homer Simpson and weather forecasters have in common? They have all tried to use their specialist skills to predict the outcome of a World Cup.
Sky News looks at seven ways you might second guess the outcome of Brazil 2014. (Anyone with Three Lions in their heart should probably look away now.)
:: The Simpsons
In 2005 the hit cartoon correctly predicted the outcome of the Super Bowl - and now they have tried their luck at the World Cup. A one-off special produced by Fox earlier this year featured Homer refereeing a final between Brazil and Germany, with the Germans apparently beating the host nation 2-0.
:: The mathematical formula
Professor Stephen Hawking studied England's performances to come up with an equation that shows the Three Lions are more likely to flourish after short-haul flights when the temperatures are low and the games kick off at a familiar 3pm.
The good news is that? No, there is no good news. England face a 5,000-mile flight to a country expecting 30C weather, to play games at 6pm, 4pm and 1pm. There is one straw for Roy Hodgson to clutch: in 2010 German physics lecturer Metin Tolan devised a formula that predicted glory for his countrymen. Happily he was proved 'falsch'.
:: The animal oracle
Perhaps Mr Tolan should have visited the Sea Life Centre in Oberhausen. It was here Paul the Octopus was presented with two boxes, each emblazoned with a nation's flag, during the 2010 World Cup.
Paul chose the winner in all seven of Germany's matches and also called a Spain win over Holland in the final. A parakeet and a fish named Koi Hodgson are among those who have tried to mimic Paul, but neither have come close to matching his psychic success.
:: The financial institution
Goldman Sachs has been issuing World Cup predictions since 1998 and say the winners can be pinpointed by examining how countries are performing in the global markets.
This year they reckon Brazil, Germany, Argentina and Spain will make the semi-finals - and have given England a 1.4% chance of lifting the trophy. Thankfully for Rooney and co, their past predictions have been way off target - guessing none of the semi-finalists in 2002 and just 50% in the last two tournaments.
:: The weather forecasters
Meteorologists predicted World Cup 'El' for England long before Hawking and Goldman Sachs piped up. Climate scientists at the University of Reading have said there is a 60% chance of El Nino conditions in Brazil this summer. This would "increase the risk of uncomfortably hot and dry conditions" during the tournament - a blow to European teams used to playing in cooler conditions.
:: The form book
Spain are the reigning champions but, remarkably, no European team has ever won football's greatest prize on South American soil. In fact, on the seven occasions the World Cup has been played in the Americas, either Brazil, Argentina or Uruguay have triumphed. England have never passed the quarter-final stage in those years.
:: The bookies
Brazil has its own version of the 'Boris Bike' - and our guess is you won't see a bookie on one. So your best bet might be checking the latest odds. Unsurprisingly, Brazil are the favourites at 3/1, followed by Argentina at 9/2 and Spain at 11/2. England sit alongside Portugal, Holland, Colombia and Italy on 25/1.