Professor Stephen Hawking, world-renowned for his ground-breaking work on gravitational singularity theorems in the framework of general relativity, has mathematically calculated how Roy Hodgson's England team will try - but ultimately fail - to lift the World Cup.
Quantum mechanics aside, Professor Hawking - using stats from previous World Cup ventures since 1966 has calculated a series of factors that must go England's way for any chance of success. This includes what colour shirt they wear, what formation they should play and which continent's referee they hope to have, whilst also calculating that: "contrary to tabloid opinion, the presence of WAGs is irrelevant."
His analysis may actually be useful to Hodgson and co: the scientist believes that England's chances of success are maximised when they wear the away red shirt... though maybe this is more of an excuse if England are eliminated from the group stages, as they will be wearing their traditional home white kits against Italy, Uruguay and Costa Rica.
The Professor's advice continues, some parts of it more practical than others. According to him, England normally do better in a 4-3-3 formation, as opposed to 4-4-2; this may be the system Hodgson chooses to set his lineup to, using Wayne Rooney as the main, central striker, with Daniel Sturridge and Danny Welbeck likely to start on the wings.
The Professor has also claimed to work out the formula for a 'perfect' penalty. Nothing really needs to be said about England's abysmal penalty shootout record; Italy at the Euros in 2012, Portugal at the World Cup in 2006 at the Euros in 2004 also. So maybe the formula - which was accompanied by a sly remark of: "as we say in science, England couldn't hit a cow's arse with a banjo" - could be of use to England.
The advice is as follows:
1. Take at least three steps, as to ensure maximum velocity - which is "key", according to Professor Hawking,
2. Place it in the top right or top left hand corner - which has a success rate of 84%.
It seems that perhaps, England's well-documented, frequently mocked, yet eternally incurable inability to take penalties is not so much because of technique - a three-year-old with a ball would probably have sussed out these tips - but more to their inferior conviction, something that maths cannot account for.
Referees will also play a part - they will be the centre of much drama, as they most often are during football - and Professor Hawking suggests that England should hope for their matches to be refereed by Europeans. England have won 63% of games refereed by Europeans, in contrast to 38% of games refereed by anyone else.
Other factors that could determine England's success, but are out of their hands, also include the weather. The Professor has suggested that an increase of just five degrees celsius could decrease England's chances of success by around 60%.
Unfortunately, Brazil's average temperature is around 10 degrees Celsius hotter than the one in the United Kingdom, so England may be huffing and puffing, but they may never break down the door to World Cup glory, at least, in Brazil.
The maths spell doom for England perhaps - however that does not mean that they will kick off against Italy in a few days time with the hopes of a nation behind them.
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