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Company's financial wizards have room for improvement in picking winning soccer teams.

June 27, 2014

Before the World Cup, the financial wizards at Goldman Sachs predicted how the soccer extravaganza would shake out. Would their knack for making loads of money translate into correctly picking the top performing teams? It turns out that their prognostications – at least mid-way through the tournament – weren’t terrible. But they weren’t great, either. Let’s break down the predictions versus the messy reality on the soccer field.

GROUP A: Goldman had hosts Brazil winning the group, with Croatia coming in second. Brazil did take first with seven points, but Mexico was right there with them, only losing based on the number of goals scored overall, sending the Croatians on a long flight home.

GROUP B: Goldman predicted a European sweep in this group, with defending champions Spain winning the group, and Netherlands, a perennial powerhouse, finishing second. But things went south for Spain in its first match when its team was trounced by the Dutch “Oranje” followed by another poor performance in its next game against Chile. Netherlands then beat Chile to win the group, with both of those teams advancing.

GROUP C: Here the Goldman pointy-heads did pretty well. They had Greece winning the group with Colombia also advancing. It turned out to be the reverse of that, but kudos to Goldman for being correct about the Greeks, a team that few gave much respect.

GROUP D: Before you ask: We have no evidence Goldman predicted Luis Suarez’s bite. They did, however, correctly predict that Uruguay would come in second in the group. Unfortunately, Goldman picked Italy to win the group, not the upstart Ticos of Costa Rico.

GROUP F: Yes, Goldman had penciled in Argentina in first, like just about everyone else. But they mistakenly took Iran to advance as well, instead of Nigeria.

GROUP G: Goldman seemed to have based too much of their predictions in this group on the reputation of European soccer. Germany took first in the group, as Goldman rightly predicted. But as you surely know, Jurgen Klinnsman led the U.S. out of the group over Portugal, which Goldman had predicted would move on. Come on Goldman Sachs, how about some love for your home team?

GROUP H: Again, Goldman picked two European teams and only got one of them correct. Belgium won the group as predicted, but Algeria outpaced Russia for the runner-up spot.

For those of you keeping track at home, Goldman Sachs correctly picked 9 out of 16 teams. And that’s only if you ignore final rankings in the groups. If you want to get really nit-picky, Goldman Sachs predicted both advancing sides in just one group. Even then, it reversed the order of the first and second place teams.

Still, Goldman still has a decent chance to finish strong. Three of their four semi-finalists it predicted — Brazil, Germany and Argentina — are still in the running.

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