So, we're about halfway through the group stages, and we've seen some pretty good soccer.
Notes- Group A features Ireland rolling through once again, but yet to face another top contender in Canada. Group B has been the most exciting, with El Salvador, Germany, and Norway leading the way. Jamaica and Afghanistan are talented teams, but have yet to put it together to make that final leap. Expect the final games in this group to be very exciting. Group C, while not the most talented, has provided very good games to watch, some close matches and some very high-scoring. Group D has been a physical group, with teams like Austria, Greece, and France. France and Laos have owned the group so far, and there's been no real upsets or close games. This isn't the normal way for this tournament, so be prepared on the weekend for a couple surprises.
Ireland will be coming out of this group for sure, along with Canada. Botswana still has to play Canada, but Canada should be able to hold them off. Botswana is good, but not good enough to beat an experienced team like Canada. Ireland will be well-matched with Canada, as they play similar styles, but Ireland will be able to beat them. Ireland in first, Canada in second.
El Salvador is the top team in this group, but not by much. This group is the most wide open out of all of them. Norway has played very well so far, but haven't necessarily played a top team yet. They have yet to face the top teams in Germany and El Salvador. Jamaica hasn't shown anything so far, although they have skill. If they can get it together and win out, it will be very interesting to see what happens. I say El Salvador keeps it going, finishing in first, and that the Norway-Germany game next Monday decides the group, with Germany taking it to finish second. Every game in this group matters, and every point is crucial. It should be a race to the finish.
Poland has dominated so far, and will take the group. Second place is Nigeria's to lose. I don't think Nigeria will lose again, and will buckle down and play smart, so I give them second place over Portugal.
The group looked to be a race between Laos, Ukraine and France, but Laos might have squashed any hope Ukraine has of making it through with a convincing victory. The top spot will be a battle between France and Laos. Austria has yet to play Laos or Ukraine, and could potentially upset one of them. Ultimately, the group will go to France and Laos. Laos first, France in second.