The WCP Cup draw is coming up soon! February 18th! See the post below for details.
Note: Women's preview and Youth previews to follow.
So, it's almost time. Let's get some talk going. The Men's side is looking at 4 groups of 6 this year, assuming Sudan and Somalia are allowed in. But with 24 teams, what are we looking at talent-wise?
How about this? We assign each team a grade between 1 and 5? 5 is the best, 1 is the worst. This is an exercise to see how many good teams we actually have, and how many good matchups we can actually get. We want to get a general sense of the competition out there.
6. El Salvador-4
16. Northern Ireland-2
While these 1-5 scores can obviously be disputed, it gives you a general sense of the competition.
- The 5's are clearly contenders, and given the talent they displayed last year, as well as improvement, these teams are expected to advance into the final stages. Unless they meet each other(and some clearly will), they should place in the top 4.
The 5's are Canada, France, Germany, Poland, Ireland, and Laos.
-The 4's are also contenders, but need improvement and a bit of luck to be in the medal round. The 4's are very good teams on the cusp of becoming a top contender. The 4's are El Salvador, Nigeria and Norway. El Salvador lost a lot of their strength last year from being a 5, Nigeria has improved considerably from last year, and Norway is almost there. They're oh-so-close.
-The 3's are good teams, and they're usually the team that the 4's and 5's are scared to face. They clearly have skill and talent, but don't gel well enough together to beat the best. Expect some 3's and 2's to upset 4's and 5's. Jamaica, Portugal and Ukraine are the 3's.
-The 2's aren't that bad, but their fight isn't to get out of the group. It's to give teams good games, and hope to come out with a win or 2 somewhere along the line. The 2's are Afghanistan, Austria, Botswana, Colombia, Greece, Northern Ireland, and Serbia.
-The 1's just aren't good enough. They're here to participate in a great tournament and have some fun while doing so. It's not every day you get to play with the best soccer players in the province and be a part of a great tournament. The 1's are Italy, England, Scotland, Sudan and Somalia.
So what do we get out of this?
5- 6 teams
4- 3 teams
3- 3 teams
2- 7 teams
1- 5 teams
The winner will come from the 4's and 5's. If they don't, it will be the craziest tournament EVER. Anyway, it's a fairly even distribution. Exactly half the teams (12) can be considered quality teams, therefore they would be a good matchup. I don't know where Sudan and Somalia got the players to form 2 more teams, but good on them for joining up.
If the teams are evenly distributed (they rarely are...Group of Death anyone?), then we'd have 3 quality teams in each group. That's a pretty good number.