Republic of Ireland
Summary:Ireland leads the way in group B. Ireland has consistently gotten an easy group at the draw, and this year is no different. Fielding another dominant team, Ireland has too much skill at every position to not win this group. But Ireland relies heavily on Saskatoon players, and the uncertainty of who will play on any given night could hurt them. They could also be becoming disheartened, as there was talk that Ireland wouldn't even enter a team. Norway was able to make it out of a group last year that included El Salvador, Germany, and Jamaica. Not an easy task. However, Norway can be exposed on defence, and they don't have premier striking ability. Hustle, strong midfield play, and hard work are Norway's attributes in this tournament, not necessarily skill. Serbia was in the easiest pool last year, and only finished 4th in the pool. We've seen them bring in a couple good players from Winnipeg in the past, but there were none last year. If they've convinced some good players to join them, they'll have a chance. Again, another good group for the weaker teams to be in. Sierra Leone is a newcomer, and I know nothing about them. But I REALLY hope they come in with a good team. Portugal was usually a good team, but then last year took a nosedive. They aren't expected to regain their former glory, mainly due to losing a lot of players. They used a lot of players from the Moose Jaw Air Base, but many of those players were transferred before last year. What we might see this year is a much younger Portugal team. A lot of the younger players have ties to some Portugal players, and likely will be recruited by them. If that's the case, Portugal will be a fairly decent team. England is the final team in this group, and while they're not expected to win many games, it sure would be nice to see them play hard and take it to one of the top teams.
Prediction: Ireland has to be considered the favorite to win all of their games and make it out of the pool. I think they'll get tested by Norway, but ultimately prevail. Norway will make them work very hard for the win, because Norway fits the definition of "playing together as a team," but they don't have the talent to stop Ireland from scoring multiple goals. Norway can win, but it will take a flawless effort. Serbia, Sierra Leone, and England will try and put a dent in Norway's and Ireland's hopes, but it is unlikely. Portugal will have a decent showing, assuming they field the type of team I believe they will. The younger players are often counted out because we don't really know who they are, but they can provide very good reinforcements for a team. If you know of one, I suggest getting them on your team.
In Finishing Order: Ireland, Norway, Portugal, Sierra Leone, England, Serbia.