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Women’s International Soccer, Olympic Edition

[ 26 ] August 2, 2012 |

Group play, consisting of three groups of four teams, ended two days ago. The tournament gets interesting now, with all four quarter final matches tomorrow (Friday).  Eight of the twelve sides involved in the tournament qualified for the quarter finals, meaning North Korea, Columbia Colombia (duh), South Africa, and Cameroon worked hard at not doing all that well in comparison.

The quarterfinal brackets (full bracket can be found here) follow (times are BST; subtract five for EDT, eight for PDT). FIFA rankings as of June 1 in parentheses. As Great Britain doesn’t have a FIFA recognised team, I’m using the England ranking with apologies to the two non English players on the side: Ifeoma Dieke and Kim Little, both Scots.

Left Bracket:
19:30: (9) Great Britain v (7) Canada
14:30: (1) United States v (23) New Zealand

Right Bracket:
12:00: (4) Sweden v (6) France
17:00: (5) Brazil v (3) Japan

While this appalls the comedy club writing at conservapedia, the US is placed on the left bracket.  (Seriously, there’s so much potential material in their entry on the 2012 Olympics such that posting about it is impossible due to being overcome with laughter every time I try.)

I’ve only been able to watch parts of a few group matches.  The cable package we have where I live in Oregon can only be called “cable” because, well, that’s how we get TV.  I do have a VPN connection to my home institution back in England, allowing me access to all the BBC feeds, but time zones and other responsibilities haven’t helped.  First impressions on the brackets is that the US got lucky, largely due to Great Britain’s surprising victory over Brazil in front of around 70,000 in Wembley.  Brazil wins, Brazil’s in the USA’s bracket.  The USA v Brazil match in the 2011 World Cup was a classic, and an experience best avoided as long as possible.

The Great Britain v Canada match is interesting.  GB don’t have much of a track record, obviously, while Canada’s is recently spotty.  The Canadians finished 16th out of 16 in 2011.  Canada drew 2-2 against Sweden in the group, while GB drew 0-0 in their only friendly immediately prior to the Olympics.  On paper, Canada should probably win, but I’ll go for Team GB because they’ll be playing in front of a sold out City of Coventry Stadium.  Among the 32,000 there should be a few Canadian fans . . .

Winner: Great Britain

USA v New Zealand.  If this were cricket, rugby union, or nuclear non-proliferation, New Zealand.  However, their women’s soccer side has one single point in the history of the world cup (in 2011), and lost 4-0 to the USA in the 2008 Olympics.  An NZ victory would be more of an upset than GB beating Brazil.  They have two things going for them, however.  Crowd support at St. James’ Park in Newcastle should favor New Zealand, and they’ve been stingy on defence, conceding only one goal in each of their three group matches (including against Brazil).

Winner: USA

The right side of the bracket is a lot tougher, both in terms of competition and predictions.  Sweden v France is a rematch of the third-place playoff in the 2011 World Cup, won by Sweden 2-1.  This match will be a reverse of last year.  In the 20 matches that the French have played since that match, they’ve won 19 and only lost one (the 2-4 against the USA last Friday).  This streak features uneven competition (2013 European Championship qualification and friendlies), but to go 19-0 itself is an impressive achievement, and it includes victories over Japan, Canada, England, and North Korea, all top-ten sides.  I might be mistaken, but Sweden’s last victory of note was defeating the USA in the final group stage match in the 2011 World Cup (a favor the US returned 4-0 in March at the Algarve Cup), and as hosts of Euro 2013 haven’t had to go through qualification.

Winner: France

Brazil v Japan.  Both teams have been uneven in this tournament. Japan had two 0-0 draws (Sweden and South Africa) and only beat Canada 2-1. Brazil of course lost to Great Britain, beat New Zealand 1-0, and buried Cameroon. Although Japan is the current holder of the World Cup, I’ve got to go with Brazil. Japan’s past year has been more erratic, and in Marta and Cristiane, Brazil have two of the best players on the planet, and they’re both still at their peak (ages 26 and 27 respectively).

Winner: Brazil

Semi-Finals:  USA over Great Britain.  Brazil over France (just).

Final: USA over Brazil.  That said, I predicted the USA to march through the knock-out rounds at the 2011 World Cup, where they barely got past Brazil on penalties, struggled against France in the semi final, and ultimately lost to Japan on penalties. Hence, take the above with een korreltje zout.

I’d write about the 2012 men’s tournament, but this is predominantly a U-23 competition, thus making it not as interesting.  It is refreshing to see Ryan Giggs finally playing in an international tournament however, much as I loathe Man Utd.

Comments (26)

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  1. Ray Radlein says:

    Dieke is out now with an injury, so using the UK FIFA ranking is even more justified.

    Japan over Brazil, though.

  2. Jeff Fecke says:

    If you want to know the ludicrous disparity, the left side of the bracket has USA (#1 in FIFA rankings), CAN (#7), GBR (England is #9, so…8ish, maybe?), and NZL (#23). Meanwhile, the right has Japan (#3), Brazil (#4), Sweden (#5), and France (#6). So, yeah, a bit easier draw thanks to the Brits beating Brazil.

    (Germany — #2 — failed to qualify for the Olympics by finishing behind France and Sweden at the World Cup.)

  3. TT says:

    Wow, who needs hallucinogenics when you have Conservapedia’s Olympics page? That’s easily the awesomest thing I’ve ever read.

    • Jonas says:

      I did not know that atheist nations underperform in team sports until reading conservapedia. I feel much more informed now.

    • Warren Terra says:

      Jesus Christ – an imprecation these outstated Believers would either appreciate or find blasphemous, I’m not sure which – do the people there seriously need help.

    • wengler says:

      I guess gay atheist public school graduates make terrible Olympic athletes?

      I guess the Olympics are the only time of year they aren’t examining the kerning of Obama’s birth certificate.

    • Cheap Wino says:

      Yep, the olympics page is all kinds of comedy win. My favorite: “will selfless play by outspoken Christian Kevin Durant overcome ball-hogging by Overrated Sports Stars Kobe Bryant and LeBron James on USA Basketball? ”

      We can have all kinds of fun with this:

      Outspoken Christian and NBA finals loser Kevin Durant obviously not favored by God as much as Kobe Bryant because his shots are only going in at a 47% clip while God’s favorite, 5-time NBA champion Kobe’s shots dropping through 53% of the time.

      Or:

      Clearly influenced by atheist depravity surrounding him in London, ball-hog LeBron James shares the ball with teammates 5.7 times in only 18 minutes a game while preoccupied with religious concerns Kevin Durant selfishly only gives the ball up 4.3 times per game in a whopping 23 minutes per game.

  4. Bill Murray says:

    Kim Little played very well against Brazil and has tremendous ball skill, so probably helps the GB team quite a bit.

    Brazil looked very disjointed but if they quit being so atheistic they can make a run at the final

  5. Dave says:

    But more importantly, can you see their asses?

  6. Dave Brockington says:

    Two out of four on the predictions front so far. Of course, those were the two I was extremely confident about.

  7. 4jkb4ia says:

    This is another reason to sigh at what I understand the Sirota column to have been. Japan needs the credibility of an Olympic gold medal to maintain the popularity of women’s soccer in their country. The existence of Olympic women’s sports is an indication of the possibility of full equality of women, even if Saudi Arabia letting the two women go doesn’t mean any more civil and political rights for women in their country. Even in the United States, if the NYT is able to put Kayla Harrison on the print front page instead of Gabby Douglas, that is more possibility for women than existed only 20 years ago.

    • Leeds man says:

      Japan needs the credibility of an Olympic gold medal to maintain the popularity of women’s soccer in their country

      What, the World Cup wasn’t enough?

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  12. wengler says:

    Hope Solo tested positive not too long ago.

  13. Leeds man says:

    You’d think the US goalie would only need the occasional slug of espresso. Still, looks pretty innocuous.

  14. rea says:

    She didn’t test positive for a PED. She tested positive for a diuretic, and was able to show that it was from medication prescribed for premenstrual problems rather than an attempt to mask a PED–therefore he was let off with a warning.

    I think it particularly cool that Han and Napoleon’s relative made the Olympic team.

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