We have given a look at the groups, but now it’s onto predictions for the knockout rounds. Here is a reminder of who I have getting through in Canada:
Group Winners: Canada, Germany, Japan, United States, Brazil, France
Second-Place: Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, Sweden, Spain, England
Third-Place: South Korea (E), Australia (D), Cameroon (C), Ivory Coast (B)
The expanded field will see more teams get through with a chance to advance, and that will only help the women’s game grow. It is a great thing to see. However, in 2015, there is a large disparity between the top and the bottom.
Who will hoist the trophy at the end of the tournament? These are my final predictions for the 2015 Women’s World Cup.
Round of 16
I will not spend a lot of time on the Round of 16 as it will be filled with mismatches. Chalk will move on in dominant performances for the most part. However, there will be one big match in the Round of 16. The winner of Group E will take on the runner-up of Group D.
Brazil will win Group E without much issue, but Group D’s runner-up will either be Sweden or the United States. I have Sweden in that slot for a huge matchup against Brazil. Pia Sundhage has their number, and Sweden will be able to win that match.
Other than that, I don’t see any big matches or upsets here. Your usual suspects keep rolling along.
The winner of Group D should advance to the quarter-finals. They get to meet the winner of a runner-up match between groups A & C. Thus, I have the United States advancing with a win over the Netherlands.
Below the U.S. will be one of the best matches of the entire tournament – Germany vs. France. Germany is playing outstanding football right now, but there is a gut feeling that France will breakthrough with this victory.
Japan will take on Sweden in the bottom-half of the bracket. Japan will find it difficult to defend their crown, and take a quarter-final exit as the Swedes move on.
The final quarter-final match is Norway vs. Canada. Match-ups are everything, and this will put Canada into the semi-finals. With a home crowd behind them, their physical play will be too much for Norway. Christine Sinclair puts Canada into the final four.
Sweden will just be too much for Canada. The Canadians making it to the semi-finals is a win in and of itself, and the matchup benefits Sweden to give them an easier out that what they would have in the top of the bracket.
The USA-France matchup is so incredibly difficult to predict. The USA is the better all-around team, but France has improved greatly with a ton of offensive talent. This is where Jill Ellis’ roster choices will come back to bite her. Megan Klingenberg & Lori Chalupny will get torched by France’s midfield and forwards. They will exploit their lack of speed & athleticism. Louisa Necib and Gaetane Thiney move France into the finals.
USA vs. Canada in the third place match. USA is just the better team through and through, but it is also worth noting that this match will be played on July 4th. I think it’s obvious you have to pick the United States under those circumstances.
It is not the result the U.S. wants, but one they’ll have to settle for.
My finals puts France against Sweden. This is a similar match-up to the semi-final between the U.S. and France, but the Swedes are not as talented as the Americans throughout their roster.
Even still, it will be a tough final.
I’m enamored with the firepower France has, and as they continue to get better on the back-end they will be too much for Sweden. The French will pick up the tournament victory, and prepare to defend the title on home turf in 2019. Les Bleus take it all in Canada.
The 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup will kick-off next Saturday, June 6th, on Fox Sports 1 with the conlcusion coming on July 5th on Fox. You can view the entire World Cup television schedule here courtesy of Fox Sports.