Olympics: Women’s Soccer Tournament Groups, With Schedule

The draw for the soccer tournaments at the 2012 London Olympics was held earlier today. The groups are as follows:

Group E: Great Britain (E1), New Zealand (E2), Cameroon (E3), Brazil (E4)
Group F: Japan (F1), Canada (F2), Sweden (F3), South Africa (F4)
Group G: USA (G1), France (G2), Colombia (G3), North Korea (G4)

For the USA, this means that they will play France first, then Colombia, and finally North Korea.

* * *

GROUP MATCHES SCHEDULE

Note: All times are local. Subtract five hours for the Eastern USA time zone, eight hours for the West Coast time zone, etc.

MATCH ###  DATE   TIME   G.  TEAM #1        TEAM #2       LOCATION
Match #01  25-Jul 16:00  E   Great Britain  New Zealand   Cardiff
Match #04  25-Jul 18:45  E   Cameroon       Brazil        Cardiff
Match #02  25-Jul 17:00  F   Japan          Canada        Coventry
Match #05  25-Jul 19:45  F   Sweden         South Africa  Coventry
Match #03  25-Jul 17:00  G   USA            France        Glasgow
Match #06  25-Jul 19:45  G   Colombia       North Korea   Glasgow
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Match #08  28-Jul 14:30  E   New Zealand    Brazil        Cardiff
Match #11  28-Jul 17:15  E   Great Britain  Cameroon      Cardiff
Match #07  28-Jul 12:00  F   Japan          Sweden        Coventry
Match #09  28-Jul 14:45  F   Canada         South Africa  Coventry
Match #10  28-Jul 17:00  G   USA            Colombia      Glasgow
Match #12  28-Jul 19:45  G   France         North Korea   Glasgow
--------------------------------------------------------------------
Match #13  31-Jul 14:30  F   Japan          South Africa  Cardiff
Match #14  31-Jul 14:30  F   Canada         Sweden        Newcastle
Match #15  31-Jul 17:15  G   USA            North Korea   Manchester
Match #16  31-Jul 17:15  G   France         Colombia      Newcastle
Match #17  31-Jul 19:45  E   Great Britain  Brazil        London
Match #18  31-Jul 19:45  E   New Zealand    Cameroon      Coventry

Source: FIFA’s official match schedule (new, 24-Apr-2012; PDF).

From a neutral perspective, on the first matchday, USA versus France will be the most interesting match. On the second matchday, it will be Japan versus Sweden, and on the third matchday, assuming the result matters, Great Britain versus Brazil.

* * *

HOW THE SEEDED TEAMS FARED

Based on world rankings, the USA’s group, Group G, is the most difficult, with a net ranking of 43 (1 + 6 + 28 + 8), followed by Group F with 80 (3 + 7 + 5 + 65) , and then Group E with 89 (9 + 24 + 52 + 4).

Group E: Great Britain got the lowest-ranked “Asian” pot team, New Zealand, while getting the highest-ranked “Americas” pot team possible, Brazil, as the USA was seeded into a different group. From the “rest of the world” pot, Great Britain got the middle-ranked team, Cameroon.

Brazil avoided its worst possible grouping — by not being selected into Group F, where it would have faced Japan plus either France or Sweden — and has a good chance of winning the group.

Group F: Japan fared about as best as possible, by getting  the lowest-ranked “Americas” team, Canada, and the lowest-ranked “rest of the world” team, South Africa, while getting the highest-ranked European team, Sweden. (Although, Sweden and France are separated by only one spot, #5 versus #6, in the world rankings.)

Group G: The USA got the second-most difficult grouping possible, as it will face the highest-ranked teams from the “Asian” and “rest of the world” pots, North Korea and Colombia, respectively. The USA got a slight break, at least on paper, by drawing France instead of Sweden.

* * *

POTENTIAL KNOCK-OUT SCENARIOS

USA vs Canada (Repeat of 2008 Quarterfinal): If the USA win their group and Canada is one of the third place teams, then the two sides could meet up in a quarterfinal, which will be a repeat match-up of the 2008 quarterfinal that was decided on a Tasha Kai header in extra time.

Early Exits: The second place team from Group G will face the top team from Group F in a quarterfinal, so their is a high probability that one of the following four teams will be knocked-out in a quarterfinal: France, Japan, Sweden, or the USA.

If Great Britain finishes second in its group, then it will face the second place team from Group F, which will most likely be either Japan or Sweden, so the host team’s chance of medalling seems somewhat unlikely at the moment.

If All Goes To Plan: Based on world rankings, the top two teams from each group and the third place groups will be as follows — 

  • 1st-E: Brazil
  • 2nd-E: Great Britain
  • 1st-F: Japan
  • 2nd-F: Sweden
  • 1st-G: USA
  • 2nd-G: France
  • Third Place Teams (2 of 3): New Zealand (3rd-E), Canada (3rd-F), North Korea (3rd-G)

Based on the above positions, the knock-out matches would be:

  • Quarterfinal Matches: Brazil vs 3rd-F or 3rd-G; USA vs 3rd-E or 3rd-F; Japan vs France; Great Britain vs Sweden.
  • Semifinal Matches: Brazil vs USA; Japan vs Sweden.
  • Bronze Medal Match: Brazil vs Sweden.
  • Gold Medal Match: USA vs Japan.

Japan versus Sweden in a semifinal will be a repeat match-up of their 2011 Women’s World Cup semifinal. And, a Brazil versus USA semifinal will be a repeat of 2007 and 1999 Women’s World Cup semifinal match-ups, along with the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Gold Medal matches.