Monday, June 15, 2015

2015 FIFA Women's World Cup: Final Group Stage Matches

The final round of Group Stage matches for the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup are here, and plenty of teams still have a chance after some surprising results.

Group B kicks things off today, and this one should be simple. Germany should beat Thailand, Norway should beat Ivory Coast. Based on Goal Differential we'll likely see Germany on top with Norway in second. Thailand is still alive for a 3rd place spot in the knockout round, but their goal differential will likely be too far back.

Group A is the tight, interesting one. Canada plays the Netherlands. Netherlands will want a draw at least to get to 4 points, and Canada will want to head into the knockout round with a win. New Zealand need a win, but have struggled to score and they face the tough "Great Wall of Defense" that is China. We'll likely see Canada top the group and China finish second. Netherlands should get 3rd place, and might have enough goal differential to make it to the knockout round.

Tuesday we'll see Group C. defending champs Japan pretty much have locked up the top seed, as they face the weakest team in the tournament, Ecuador. Switzerland should grab 2nd when they face Cameroon, all they need is a draw. Cameroon have been an exciting team and have a great chance to qualify as a top third place team. A draw would guarantee it, which would be nice for these fan favorites.

Group D is still fairly open. USA sits on top with four points, and face a fading Nigeria team. USA still have plenty to prove, and hopefully we'll see a start from Tobin Heath in the midfield. Australia sits in 2nd with 3 points, while Sweden sits in 3rd with 2 points. If Sweden lose, they're finished. I can see them winning this, but Australia are a tough team and a draw is possible. Either way, both teams should make it through, unless Sweden lose of course. Whoever finishes 2nd in group D is guaranteed to face Brazil. Alex Morgan has been playing sporadically, so if USA can get a comfortable lead here it could allow her some extra rest heading into the knockout round.

Wednesday we have Group E. Costa Rica are the talk of the tournament after pulling draws from both Spain & South Korea. They take on Brazil who locked up 1st place, so they could possibly rest starters like Marta, giving Costa Rica a shot at a draw, or maybe even win. South Korea take on Spain, and both need to win. A draw might eliminate both, unless Costa Rica loses, which helps Spain. South Korea lack Goal Differential and definitely need a win.

Group F had the shocker of the tournament, with Colombia beating Spain 2-0 in one of the biggest upsets in Women's World Cup history. That means France is sitting in 3rd and face Mexico, which won't be an easy one, though they should get a result and advance. England take on Colombia for first place. Either way, both of those teams should advance. The 3rd place team here is likely to face the winner of Group D, which seems like it will be the US.

Aside from Ecuador & Ivory Coast, every team has been competitive so far. with most of them still alive for the knockout round. Only Japan & Brazil had qualified entering into this final round of Group matches.

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