Goldman Bullish on Dutch Soccer Team

By Dow Jones Business News, 
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SÃO PAULO--Investment bank Goldman Sachs is bullish on the Netherlands, at least when it comes to soccer.

The bank updated its much-watched forecast for the World Cup this week, raising the Dutch national team's chances of winning the tournament to 18.3% from 5.6% in May.

The Dutch have been on winning run. They ended Mexico's hopes of moving ahead last Sunday, after crushing Spain 5-1 and beating both Australia and Chile.

But Goldman is still betting on Brazil to win it all. Despite the Seleção's uneven play, the Wall Street bank gives the hosts and five-time World Cup champs a 46.4% probability of winning the Cup, down slightly from 48.5% in May.

Goldman sees Brazil's most likely opponent in the finals to be the Netherlands, followed closely by Argentina, which according to the bank has a 17.2% chance of winning the tournament. Germany comes next, with a 12.1% chance of taking the Cup home.

This is Goldman's fifth report on the World Cup since the 1998 Paris competition. It is also the first without soccer fanatic economist Jim O'Neill, who pioneered the previous versions.

Mr. O'Neill, who retired from his job as chairman of Goldman's asset management last year, said in a separate interview to The Wall Street Journal that he is rooting for Brazil in this World Cup, even though he believes some other national teams, such as Germany and the Netherlands, are in better shape.

Goldman Sachs declined to give an interview to comment on its updated World Cup predictions.

Like everyone else, Goldman Sachs was caught by surprise by the early departure of some respected teams, including Spain, Italy and Portugal.

Spain, which astonished fans with an early departure after being defeated by Chile 2-0, ranked fourth in Goldman's May list with a 9.8% chance to take the Cup home.

"Spain, the reigning World Champions, ranks among the favorites for success in the 2014 World Cup," Goldman said in its May report.

Goldman also missed the stunning rise of Costa Rica, which will face the Netherlands on Saturday in the quarterfinals.

In May, Goldman Sachs gave Costa Rica a 0% chance of winning the World Cup. Despite the Central American team's surprising success, Goldman has upped its chance of winning it all to just 0.7%.

Write to Luciana Magalhaes at luciana.magalhaes@wsj.com

Subscribe to WSJ: http://online.wsj.com?mod=djnwires


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