----If it’s like last year, Group A should be taking on Group C, with Group B against Group D. So what might we be looking for the playoff round?
I especially like the possible matchups between Group B and D. We could see Ireland vs. Canada (a classic matchup), Germany vs. Norway (high-scoring group rivals last year), or Norway vs. Canada. Never mind the possibility that completely different teams could be in there, such as Jamaica, Poland and Ukraine. Going on my previous predictions, this could be the first year that the top 4 remain the same. The matchups would be Laos vs. Nigeria, France vs. El Salvador, Ireland vs. Germany and Norway vs. Canada.
Laos, assuming they finish first, would play second place in Group C, likely Nigeria. I would expect Laos to beat whoever comes out in second in Group C. France should be able to beat a weakened El Salvador team, if El Salvador can finish second. Ireland would be facing Germany, and Norway would face Canada. If all 4 teams from last year make it back to the final 4, there will be one major difference. They won’t play the same teams. Laos would likely go up against France, and Ireland would take on Canada (an Ireland vs. Norway semi-final would be very intriguing as well). In my opinion, that would take us to a France vs. Ireland final. And that would be a spectacular final. Anyway, that’s all just speculation. The tournament is crazier every year. There’s virtually no chance it works out like that, but you never know.
----The schedule comes out tomorrow. I’ll break it down, and give you a good idea of which days are best to come watch soccer. The ticket prices are very high, but you can a package that allows you to watch a certain number of games. That might be better and cheaper than a full tournament pass. We’ll find out when the schedule comes out. Stay tuned.
----Anyone have any updates on the alcoholic beverage situation? I’ve heard everything from beer carts to portable bars. Someone make an effort to find this out.
----Exhibition game result: Jamaica beat Afghanistan 6-1. While these are never very accurate of how a team will do in the tournament, it could show that Jamaica is starting to get their act together. Afghanistan went undefeated in their Men’s Division 4 League, but what does that mean? That’s Division 4. Many Division 2 teams would even struggle in the WCP Cup, so that doesn’t mean much. Afghanistan will need to be better.
----Women’s Preview: While not an expert on Women’s soccer, it is great to see so many teams practicing and trying to get a decent team together. The teams are pretty much unchanged from last year, except France has now become Poland, and Scotland is now Ireland. Let’s take a quick look at how it might shake down:
Group A- Led by Ukraine, Group A is probably the stronger of the two groups. Ukraine and England will battle it out for top spot, and that game should be the best of the tournament. Poland will be fishing for the upset here, and if they can pull off a win vs. either team, they’ll have a spot in the playoffs (barring a major collapse).
Group B- Germany leads this group, but the rest of the group is up in the air. Scotland, now Ireland, came out last year but got crushed in the playoffs. Chile can play with the likes of England, Germany and Ukraine, but they’ll need to rebound from last year’s disappointing performance.
Prediction: The groups are evenly matched this year, and England should be able to get revenge on Germany. Germany vs. England and Ukraine vs. Chile in the Semi-Finals, with Ukraine taking on England in the final. Just like the Men’s Side, anything can happen.
----Any ideas for the next poll?
Top Two Teams in Group D? Best Potential Final Matchups? Best Day to Watch Soccer (when schedule is out)? Biggest Sleeper Team? Let me know any suggestions in the comments.