Well, here goes nothing.
The last Women’s World Cup seems like it took place more than four years ago, when group stage games saw a couple wobbly scores like Switzerland’s 10-1 defeat of Ecuador and Germany’s 10-0 demolition of the Ivory Coast.
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The lesser lights seem a bit stronger this go-round, but it’s still very much the case that single upsets — let alone long runs into the tournament — aren’t going to arrive too often.
The top teams in the world are just too good. And even Brazil, who is struggling mightily in terms of results, has been losing while running a brutal run of preparation fixtures.
Tier 4: Be happy to be there
23. South Africa
Tier 3: Hoping to surprise — Some impressive moments on their resumes, but nothing that makes you expect glory.
17. New Zealand
11. South Korea
Tier 2: Capable of extended beauty — The stars and set-up to win any match, but just not quite the level of the favorites.
Tier 1: The Elite — Where anything other than a final is a failure. And just think: France and the USWNT will meet in the quarterfinals if both win their groups.