Predictions: How will the 2015 Women’s World Cup play out?

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The Women’s World Cup is just two days away and now is the time to start studying the schedule and make your final predictions for how things will pan out up in Canada.

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Favorites Germany, France, Japan and the U.S. will get plenty of votes but could a dark horse like England, Norway or even hosts Canada win it all this summer?

Our expert friends over at Equalizer Soccer give you the run down on how they think things will play out in Canada.

Over to you…

Jeff Kassouf’s predictions

Group A
Team P W L D F A GD Pts
Canada 3 2 0 1 5 3 2 7
Netherlands 3 1 0 2 4 3 1 5
New Zealand 3 0 1 2 2 3 -1 2
China 3 0 2 1 2 4 -2 1
Group B
Team P W L D F A GD Pts
Germany 3 3 0 0 14 1 13 9
Norway 3 2 1 0 6 3 3 6
Cote d’Ivoire 3 1 2 0 1 8 -7 3
Thailand 3 0 3 0 0 9 -9 0
Group C
Team P W L D F A GD Pts
Japan 3 3 0 0 9 0 9 9
Switzerland 3 2 1 0 4 3 1 6
Cameroon 3 0 2 1 1 6 -5 1
Ecuador 3 0 2 1 0 5 -5 1
Group D
Team P W L D F A GD Pts
USA 3 2 0 1 6 3 3 7
Sweden 3 2 0 1 4 2 2 7
Nigeria 3 1 2 0 3 4 -1 3
Australia 3 0 3 0 3 7 -4 0
Group E
Team P W L D F A GD Pts
Brazil 3 2 0 1 5 2 3 7
Spain 3 1 0 2 3 2 1 5
Korea Republic 3 0 1 2 3 4 -1 2
Costa Rica 3 0 2 1 1 4 -3 1
Group F
Team P W L D F A GD Pts
France 3 2 0 1 10 3 7 7
England 3 2 0 1 7 2 5 7
Mexico 3 1 2 0 4 8 -4 3
Colombia 3 0 3 0 2 10 -8 0

Advancing in those scenarios are: Canada and Netherlands from Group A; Germany, Norway and Cote d’Ivoire from Group B; Japan and Switzerland from Group C; USA, Sweden and Nigeria from Group D; Brazil, Spain and Korea Republic from Group E; France, England and Mexico from Group F.

Round of 16: Canada over Korea Republic, Germany over Nigeria, Japan over Cote d’Ivoire, USA over Mexico, Netherlands over Switzerland, Brazil over Sweden, France over Spain, Norway over England

Quarterfinals: France over Germany, USA over Netherlands, Japan over Brazil, Canada over Norway

(Yes, I think France is that good and yes, I know they have a habit of chocking on the big stage. Winning the group clearly sets up quite nicely for the United States. I see Brazil getting past Sweden in the Round of 16 but falling to Japan. And while Canada is not a top-four team in the world, the path sets up nicely for the hosts to make the semifinals.)

Semifinals: France over USA, Japan over Canada

(Canada’s run comes to an end and there will be no fairy-tale finish. France finally gets over the hump and defeats the United States to reach the final.)

Final: France over Japan

(France has all the pieces in place to win this tournament. Les Bleues are in top form, but the road will be a tough one. No World Cup has ever been won without a tough victory or two

Dan Lauletta’s predictions

Predictions are fun, until the tournament begins and most of them go wrong.  But remember, they are only predictions.

Group A
Team P W L D F A GD Pts
Netherlands 3 1 0 2 5 3 2 5
Canada 3 1 0 2 5 4 1 5
China 3 1 0 2 3 2 1 5
New Zealand 3 0 3 0 1 5 -4 0
Group B
Team P W L D F A GD Pts
Germany 3 3 0 0 12 0 12 9
Norway 3 2 1 0 8 2 6 6
Cote d’Ivoire 3 1 2 0 4 9 -5 3
Thailand 3 0 3 0 0 13 -13 0
Group C
Team P W L D F A GD Pts
Japan 3 3 0 0 7 2 5 9
Switzerland 3 2 1 0 10 7 3 6
Ecuador 3 1 2 0 2 4 -2 3
Cameroon 3 0 3 0 2 8 -6 0
Group D
Team P W L D F A GD Pts
Sweden 3 3 0 0 5 2 3 9
USA 3 2 1 0 5 2 3 6
Nigeria 3 0 2 1 2 4 -2 1
Australia 3 0 2 1 1 5 -4 1
Group E
Team P W L D F A GD Pts
Brazil 3 2 0 1 4 2 2 7
South Korea 3 2 1 0 4 2 2 6
Spain 3 1 1 1 3 3 0 4
Costa Rica 3 0 3 0 1 5 -4 0
Group F
Team P W L D F A GD Pts
France 3 2 0 1 10 4 6 7
England 3 2 0 1 7 4 3 7
Mexico 3 0 2 1 3 5 -2 1
Colombia 3 0 2 1 1 8 -7 1

Round of 16:
Canada d. Switzerland – a proverbial slam dunk draw for the hosts
Sweden d.  Spain – but it will take extra time as the Spanish knock of the door of global legitimacy
Germany d. China – Germans take first knockout match since stunning loss to Japan four years ago
France d. South Korea – not without some trouble
United States d. Brazil – Marta’s prime flashes before her eyes in the eastern outpost of Moncton; no last-second dramatics needed this time
Japan d. Cote I’Voire – no contest.  The 24-is-too-many crowd pound their chests.
Norway d. England – best game of this phase sees the ’95 champions through at the expense of more English soccer disappointment
Netherlands d. Ecuador – the beat goes on for Netherlands in a matchup of World Cup debutantes

Quarterfinals:
Canada d. Sweden – hosts get their transcendent moment with upset of highly regarded Swedes.
Germany d. France – match of the month; Germany claw out late win to keep France yearning for a podium finish at a major event
United States d. Japan – sweet revenge for the 2011 championship match
Norway d. Netherlands – one quarterfinal a World Cup misses the mark.  This is it.

Semifinals:
Germany d. Canada – Stunned at home four years ago, Germany pays it forward by ending Canada’s dream of celebrating on home soil
United States d. Norway – Norway’s direct style plays right into the hands of the U.S. who play it ugly but reach their fifth straight global final

Third place:
Canada d. Norway – Canada’s presence is a boost for the match no one wants to play and the win ends their World Cup on a high note

Final:
Germany d. United States – three out of four World Cups for Germany equaling the Brazilian men’s dominance from 1958-1970

Americans Abroad: Gall scores; Weah returns from injury

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Two USMNT names resurfaced over the weekend – for all the right reasons.

It’s been an overall quiet year for Romain Gall in Sweden, but the 25-year-old managed to challenge the narrative by scoring in Malmo’s cup bout.

While in France, Timothy Weah made a much-anticipated return from injury in Lille’s 2-1 loss. The 19-year-old played 10 minutes after being out for six months.

Here is a list of several other USMNT affiliates making a name for themselves (or not) abroad this weekend.

Premier League

Christian Pulisic, Chelsea — Pulisic is still recovering from his injury and will miss Monday’s game against Manchester United.

DeAndre Yedlin, Newcastle — Yedlin didn’t dress in Newcastle’s 4-0 loss to Arsenal on Sunday.

Indiana Vassilev, Aston Villa — Vassilev didn’t dress in Aston Villa’s last-minute 3-2 loss to Tottenham on Saturday.

EFL Championship

Antonee Robinson, Wigan Athletic —  For a second weekend in a rown Robinson did not dress for Wigan. The failed move to AC Milan is apparently still haunting him.

Duane Holmes, Derby County — Holmes started and played 29 minutes before leaving with an ankle injury on Saturday.

Matt Miazga, Reading (loan from Chelsea) — The 24-year-old is out with a hamstring injury. There is no timeline on his return.

Eric Lichaj, Hull City — The defender is out for the season after sustaining an injury.

Geoff Cameron, QPR — The 34-year-old defender started and played 90 minutes in QPR’s 4-2 win over Stoke City.

Tim Ream, Fulham — Ream started and played 90 minutes in Fulham’s 3-0 loss to Barnsley on Saturday.

Cameron Carter-Vickers, Luton Town (loan Tottenham Hotspur) — Carter-Vickers started and played 90 minutes in Luton’s 1-0 win over Middlesbrough.

Bundesliga

Timmy Chandler, Eintracht Frankfurt Chandler started and played 90 minutes in Franjfurt’s 4-0 loss to Borussia Dortmund.

John Brooks, Wolfsburg – The 26-year-old defender started and played 90 minutes for the time since January 18. Wolfsburg won 3-2 over Hoffenheim.

Weston McKennie, Schalke —  McKennie started and played 90 minutes in Schalke’s 0-0 draw with Mainz.

Zack Steffen and Alfredo Morales, Fortuna Dusseldorf — Steffen is out with an injury, while Morales started and played 90 minutes on Saturday.

Josh Sargent, Werder Bremen  Sargent came off the bench and played 25 minutes in Werder Bremen’s 3-0 loss.

Tyler Adams, RB Leipzig — Adams is out with an injury. There is no timeline on his return.

Fabian Johnson, Borussia Mönchengladbach Johnson dressed but didn’t feature for Borussia Monchengladbach.

Eredivisie

Sergino Dest, Ajax — Dest started and played 90 minutes in Ajax’s 3-0 win over RKC Waalwijk.

Haji Wright, VVV-Venlo — The 21-year-old striker was on the bench but didn’t feature on Friday.

Ligue 1

Timothy Weah, Lille — After a six-month absence, Weah featured for Lille in official competition. The attacker played the final 10 minutes in Lille’s 2-1 loss to Marseille.

Theoson Jordan-Siebatcheu, Rennes — Jordon-Siebatcheu started and played 56 minutes in Rennes’ 1-0 loss to Stade Reims.

Honorable Mentions

Romain Gall, Malmo — Gall played the final 31 minutes in Malmo’s 8-0 thumping of Syrianska and contributed a goal.

Richard Ledezma, Jong PSV — Ledezma played 60 minutes and scored a goal in Jong PSV’s 1-1 draw with FC Eindhoven. The attacker missed out the final 30 minutes after seeing a straight red card. 

Premier League Preview: Chelsea vs. Manchester United

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Manchester United look to leave a poor three-match streak behind as they travel to Stamford Bridge to take on Chelsea  (Watch live at 3:00 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

The last time both teams faced off was during the season’s opening matchweek, which saw the Red Devils steamroll Chelsea 4-0 at Old Trafford.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

Since, United’s quality hasn’t been the same, slipping to ninth in the league, while the Blues have maintained themselves in the European competition conversation throughout the majority of the season.

A win for either side at this point of season will provide a huge morale boost, as both teams go into Monday’s match without a win in three bouts.


Injuries/suspensions

Chelsea: OUT —  Pulisic (groin), Van Ginkel (knee) QUESTIONABLE — Abraham (knock), Giroud (knock), Loftus-Cheek (calf)

Manchester United: OUT — McTominay (knee), Tuanzebe (thigh), Pogba (ankle, 5 Mar), Rashford (back), Fosu-Mensah (match fitness), Grant (surgery) QUESTIONABLE — Ighalo (match fitness)


Probable lineups

Chelsea: Arrizabalaga; Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Tomori, James; Kante, Jorginho; Hudson-Odoi, Mount, William; Abraham.

Manchester United: De Gea; Williams, Maguire, Lindelof, Wan-Bissaka; Fred, Matic; Greenwood, Fernandes, James; Martial


What they’re saying

Chelsea’s Frank Lampard on dropping Kepa Arrizabalaga last weekend: “It wasn’t about giving him a jolt. It was just a selection on that day. I want everyone’s reaction spot on. I know how it will feel for him. I had it in my career, it is part and parcel. I am pleased with the reaction.”

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on Odion Ighalo: “As a striker you get thrown on out there and it might be he’ll have to come off the bench, give us a goal and he does whatever he does.”


Prediction

Chelsea will be in front of their supporters on a Monday night with Manchester United in town. That scenario tends to go well for the Blues more often than not. Chelsea, 2-1.

Mexicans Abroad: Rodolfo Pizarro’s goalscoring start headlines handful of debuts

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A handful of Mexicans abroad debuted with their respective clubs over the weekend, but none were at par with Rodolfo Pizarro’s.

The 26-year-old attacking midfielder scored on his fourth touch as an Inter Miami player, two minutes after coming off the bench. Pizarro’s right-footed strike proved to be historic, as it became the first official goal in club history.

Also on Saturday, in different regions of the United States, Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez and Alan Pulido, respectively, made their debuts. Chicharito played 78 minutes in Los Angeles Galaxy’s 2-1 preseason loss to Toronto FC, while Pulido logged 61 minutes in Sporting Kansas City’s scoreless bout.

Qatar’s new marquee star, Marco Fabian, debuted in Al-Sadd’s hard-earned cup win.

Here is a list of several other Mexico national team affiliates making a name for themselves (or not) outside of Mexico this weekend.


Premier League

Raul Jimenez, Wolverhampton Wanderers —  Jimenez started and played all 90 minutes in Wolves’ 0-0 draw against Leicester City. The forward registered four shots off target and one blocked.

La Liga

Hector Herrera, Atletico Madrid —  Herrera was not called up by Diego Simeone for Atletico Madrid’s draw against Valencia on Friday.

Andres Guardado, Real Betis —  Guardado dressed but didn’t take the field on Sunday.

Diego Lainez, Real Betis — The 19-year-old was is out after undergoing appendicitis surgery.

Nestor Araujo, Celta Vigo — Araujo played a vital part in La Liga’s most surprising outcome of the matchweek – Celta’s 2-2 draw with Real Madrid. The defender recorded eight clearances, one interceptions and two tackles throughout the 90 minutes.

Serie A

Hirving “Chucky” Lozano, Napoli —  Lozano, Napoli’s most expensive player in team history, was not called up by Gennaro Gattuso on Sunday. The 24-year-old and the Italian manager seem to be on different pages, and the situation doesn’t appear to be getting better with time. It might be time to panic for Lozano’s development in Italy.

Primeira Liga

Jesus “Tecatito” Corona, FC Porto — Tecatito started and played 84 minutes in Porto’s 2-1 victory over Vitoria, which was marred by racist abuse towards Moussa Marega by Vitoria supporters.

Eredivisie

Erick Gutierrez, PSV Eindhoven —  Gutierrez played the final five minutes of PSV’s 3-0 thumping of AOD Den Haag.

Edson Alvarez, Ajax — After several weeks of little activity, Alvarez seems to be making his way back into Ajax’s starting lineup. On Sunday, the Mexican defender played his second set of 90 minutes in four days.

Jupiler Pro League

Omar Govea, Zulte Waregem — Govea played 76 minutes in Zulte’s 2-1 loss on Sunday.

Major League Soccer

Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, LA Galaxy – In front of a semi-full Dignity Sports Park, Chicharito made his Los Angeles Galaxy debut. The storied forward, however, failed to score despite seeing a decent amount of chances. Galaxy open the MLS season against Houston Dynamo on February 29.

Rodolfo Pizarro, Inter Miami – It took two minutes for an Rodolfo Pizarro to score on his unofficial Inter Miami debut. Ironically, the brand-new MLS franchise has yet to announce the signing of the 26-year-old from Monterrey.

Alan Pulido, Sporting Kansas City – Pulido played 61 minutes in SKC’s scoreless, preseason draw against Real Salt Lake.

Elsewhere around the globe:

Ulises Davila, Wellington Phoenix – Davila played all 90 minutes in Phoenix’s 1-0 victory over Melbourne City. The attacker also managed to pick up a yellow card throughout the match.

Marco Fabian, Al-Sadd – Fabian debuted for Xavi’s Al-Sadd on Saturday, playing all 120 minutes in his team’s win via penalties.

Hector Moreno, Al-Gharafa – Moreno and Al-Gharafa were inactive this weekend.

La Liga roundup: Celta spoil Hazard’s return in Real Madrid draw

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Real Madrid’s draw against relegation-battling Celta Vigo highlights La Liga’s Sunday action.

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Real Madrid 2-2 Celta Vigo 

Celta’s Santi Mina scored in 85th minute to give a depleted Celta Vigo a precious point at the Santiago Bernabeu, spoiling Eden Hazard‘s return to Real Madrid’s lineup after a notable absence.

Madrid’s eighth draw of the season moves champions Barcelona just one point behind Zinedine Zidane’s side.

Returning from ankle injury that kept his out of action for three months, Hazard returned to the pitch in fine style, leading all players on the field in chances created with three and earning a penalty that Sergio Ramos converted to put Real Madrid ahead.

Hazard – and all of his flair – left the field in the 70th minute, granting Vinicius Junior the final 20 minutes of the match.

Ramos’ sixth goal of the season builded on Toni Kroos’ left-footed strike early in the latter half of the match. Real Madrid, more or less, were cruising against Celta, who had a goal to their name following Fyodor Smolov’s early opener.

Celta, who had arrived in Madrid in 18th place and had lost their last seven at the host’s home, were destined to do the unthinkable. Denis Suarez and Mina – both utilized as substitutes – paired up for the equalizer with five minutes to go, spoiling Hazard’s return.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Sevilla 2-2 Espanyol

Leganes 0-0 Real Betis 

Athletic Bilbao 0-1 Osasuna