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World Cup 2014: Twelve Picks for an Investor's Dream Team

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One dozen top FIFA World Cup teams profiled: What are their chances in Brazil? What's the top stock in each market?

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Germany


World Cup pedigree and prospects: Moving from Mother Russia to the Fatherland, Germany's outstanding World Cup record has seen it crowned champions on three occasions while four more times it failed only at the final hurdle. Yet since winning the European Championship via a sudden-death golden goal in Alan Greenspan's "irrationally exuberant" 1996, rigor mortis appears to have set in, with no senior silverware arriving in the intervening 18 years. The current crop play with far more panache than their ruthlessly disciplined predecessors of yore, having displayed a free-scoring style in qualifying, but some of the old resiliency has been lost. It should survive the Group of Death and, if fitness concerns over several key players abate, could go deep into the tournament. A fourth title would still be a surprise, however.

Player to watch: Now that the brilliant Brazilian Kaká has been benched -- and with due deference to our own DaMarcus Beasley and his fellow defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos of Greece -- Bastian Schweinsteiger has hands down the best name in the tournament. The Bayern Munich midfield general also possess a penchant for scoring spectacular goals and enjoyed an excellent World Cup in South Africa. At 29, his tactical nous will be critical in what is one of the tournament's younger teams.

Famous fútbol feat: The 1990 World Cup in Italy was a truly dreadful affair, culminating in the first two ever ejections in a final. That didn't concern West Germany, who celebrated that year's reunification by taking its third title to the dulcet tones of The Three Tenors' Nessun Dorma. In doing so, coach "Kaiser" Franz Beckenbauer became only the second player to emerge victorious as both a player and manager. There was a sense of inevitability to this Teutonic triumph, leading England's Gary Lineker to memorably remark, "Football is a simple game; 22 men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans win."

Economy -- on its toes or down at heel? Germany remains the economic engine of Europe, and its DAX (INDEXDB:DAX) touched 10,000 for the first time ever last week after Mario Draghi unveiled his monetary morphine from Frankfurt. Still, much like the national soccer side, some of the fabled efficiency of yesteryear is lacking. Industrial production has slowed of late, deflation is increasingly an issue, and the Crimean crisis represents an unwanted wild card.

Stock to score with: Athletic apparel outfit Adidas (OTCMKTS:ADDYY) is a giant in Europe, where generations of adolescent males in every country learn to spell its name using the mnemonic "All Day I Dream About Soccer." (Okay, that last word wasn't actually "soccer," but this is a respectable family publication.) Today Adidas is a global behemoth that generates $20 billion in annual revenue. Its most recent results were negatively impacted by currency issues, but the World Cup typically provides a big boost for a firm which will have its name emblazoned on the kit of nine countries including defending champions Spain. The company, which also owns Reebok and TaylorMade golf equipment, is expected to generate sales of 2 billion euros in the tournament. It started supplying the official ball back in 1970, and Argentine superstar Lionel Messi, an Adidas sponsor since the age of 18, will wear its F50 boots.

NEXT PAGE: Italy

No positions in stocks mentioned.
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