It's official: Germany will win the World Cup

March 2, 2006

BERLIN, March 2 (Reuters) - Germany's under-fire national soccer coach Juergen Klinsmann and his team have every chance of clinching World Cup glory on home turf later this year - at least if you believe the statisticians.

Germany's preparations for the tournament suffered a blow on Wednesday when they were crushed 4-1 by Italy in a friendly in Florence and the media has all but written off their chances of lifting their first World Cup since 1990.

However, a study into the benefits of home advantage published on Thursday by the Cologne-based IW Institute suggests otherwise.

Germany has on average reached the quarter- or semi-finals of the World Cups it has taken part in.

Add to that an average boost of 2.5 rounds from hosting the tournament compared with playing away and Germany captain Michael Ballack could be the one hoisting the trophy aloft after the final in Berlin on July 9.

'The reasons for success at home are legion: euphoric fans, familiar environment, meticulous preparation,' the institute said, adding that the home team had won a third of all World Cups since the inaugural tournament in 1930.

'In addition, the host nation qualifies and goes into the draw for the finals automatically. That means (as a seeded nation) they often face easy opponents in the group phase.'

France profited most from home advantage when in 1998 they advanced 4.5 rounds further than their average performance and beat Brazil in the final, the ID said.

Both Uruguay and England had gone almost 4.5 rounds further than the average in winning the cup at home, in 1930 and 1966 respectively, it added.

There is a precedent for this year's host nation: the last time the World Cup was held on German soil in 1974 Germany beat the Netherlands in the final.