Two matches down and one to go in group play at the 2015 Women’s World Cup and there is still so much we don’t know about how the knockout brackets will look. The only two teams certainly moving on are Japan and Brazil, with the latter the only team to have won its group. No one is officially eliminated but it will take a miracle for Nigeria and something far greater than that for Ecuador or Ivory Coast. But most everything else is at least partially up in the air. Let’s look at how things are shaping up. And don’t forget, four of the six 3rd-place finishers will move on.
For this tournament no one is getting through on 2 points. Colombia took care of that with their upset of France on Saturday. That means Sweden’s chances of slipping by with a loss to Australia went from slim to impossible. They will need a result. Thailand did not like that Colombia result either. As it stands now, they are through, but unless they get a point off Germany (it would dwarf Colombia’s upset if they do) they will need Sweden and Nigeria to lose in Group D and Costa Rica to lose or Spain/Korea Republic to end in a draw in Group E. That is a lot to ask.
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Teams that are on 4 points right now—Canada, Germany, Norway, United States, and Colombia—are not guaranteed to go through, but the scenarios to knock them out are so outlandish they need not be discussed unless they happen. But suffice it to say that while all six groups still stand a chance of having three teams reach four points, unless Thailand holds Germany and Nigeria beats the United States, those five teams are moving on. That means 14 teams are battling for nine spots in the knockout rounds.
Let’s look at each group:
Group A: Canada win the group with a win and that might be more important than originally thought since finishing second will yield a match against Cameroon or Switzerland instead of a 3rd-place finisher. Netherlands and China are all but through with draws and definitely with wins, while New Zealand are all but through with a win but definitely eliminated with a loss or draw.
Group B: If we assume Germany will beat Thailand and Norway will do the same to Ivory Coast, then the two winners are through with Germany winning the group so long as they don’t allow Norway to overcome a six-goal margin on goal difference. Ivory Coast probably needs to beat Norway by a dozen goals (had to say it) while Thailand needs a point or for the scenarios listed above to play out.
Group C: If Ecuador somehow defeat Japan, the winner of Cameroon-Switzerland will steal the group, but realistically that latter match is for second with Switzerland getting the advantage if they draw. Lopsided wins over Ecuador put both of those teams in good tiebreaker standing, meaning a draw will send them both through and a narrow loss will be enough so long as four groups don’t wind up with three teams on 4 points.
Group D: The United States wins the group by beating Nigeria, for whom a draw is no good. Australia-Sweden is a juicy finale where the winner moves on. Sweden are definitely done with a loss and stand a chance with a draw. Australia are likely through with a draw, definitely if Nigeria does not win.
Group E: Brazil have won the group, which could play into the favor of Costa Rica, who could get a break if the Brazilians rest players as expected. A win sends Costa Rica through. A win for either team in the Spain/Korea Republic match will be enough to get through. A draw eliminates Korea Republic and can get Spain through if Costa Rica lose by two or more goals. If Costa Rica gets a draw with Brazil they are through if the other game ends in a draw, and will stand a better chance if Sweden lose or draw with fewer goals than Costa Rica.
Group F: Amazingly Colombia and England will play with the former in control of the group and England positioned to win the group by beating Colombia and not dropping goal differential to France. Mexico are done but have to beat France or they are eliminated. The up-to-date brackets show France playing the United States in the Round of 16 but if they beat Mexico they are guaranteed a top-two spot in the group. Colombia are very likely to have clinched a knockout berth by the time they take the field.
Reminder of which combinations of which third-place teams would play in which Round of 16 games (chart via the very knowledgeable Jen Cooper at Keeper Notes):
|Advancing 3rd place teams||1A plays||1B plays||1C plays||1D plays|