We hear a lot about the Group of Death. It’s not a major tournament until that term has been slapped on after the draw and becomes a talking point throughout the group stage. But what about a Bracket of Death?
The 2015 Women’s World Cup is creeping closer to a Bracket of Death that will turn the knockout stages into a gauntlet.
When the draw was made, it looked like the top half and bottom half of the bracket for the knockout stages would be just about even. The top half would probably get the United States, Germany and France – the top three teams in the world, but little else in the way of contenders. Meanwhile, the bottom half would see more depth with Japan, Sweden, Brazil, England, Canada and Norway, making for a rough road. But now, that bottom half could be a nightmare.Japan, Sweden, Brazil, Canada and Norway all look likely to end up in the bottom half of the bracket, but now they may be joined by France.
Les Bleues’ loss to Colombia puts them second in Group F. If France manages to finish top, it won’t be due to its own performances. A win for Colombia on the final day – hardly a given, as England is still favored, but it’s very possible – means France will need to beat Mexico just to finish second. Finishing second means dropping to the bottom half of the draw.
That means this hellacious knockout stage:
– Brazil vs. Sweden in the round of 16
– France vs. Norway in the round of 16
– Winner of Brazil/Sweden vs. (likely) Japan in the quarterfinals
– Winner of France/Norway vs. (likely) Canada in the quarterfinals
– Semifinal of Brazil/Sweden/Japan vs. France/Norway/Canada
And whoever makes it out of that, assuming that the players haven’t died of exhaustion, will likely have to beat either the U.S. or Germany in the final.
There are obviously several leaps in this scenario. Colombia would have to beat England and there would have to be no other draw-altering upsets, but France’s loss sets up this as a realistic possibility.
The U.S. and Germany would be thrilled with this outcome. The semifinal pitting the two against each other would be their only major test, with the Germans’ squaring up against England in the quarterfinals only somewhat of a challenge. But down on the bottom half …
France, Japan, Sweden, Brazil, Canada and Norway, all in the same half of the bracket and set to throw blows through each and every round? A Bracket of Death indeed.