The 2019 Women’s World Cup knockout round bracket is set.
No major surprises or upsets through group play. The USWNT dominated–winning all three games and setting a record for most goals scored in the group round
Other contenders like France, England, and Germany all advanced undefeated–but at times looked vulnerable along the way.
Here’s a look at the teams with the toughest and smoothest paths to the finals, as well as an underdog who could make noise.
A lot of hand-wringing has been done over the USWNT’s path the finals. And for good reason–their path sucks.
But do you know who really was done no favors? Host nation France!
First, here’s a look at all teams with at least a 1% chance to win the cup this year.
There’s a reason why FiveThirtyEight only has the US at only a 24% chance to win the World Cup despite laying waste to their group. And there’s a bigger reason why France (FIFA #4) is only 19%. Both teams will have to run through a gauntlet of quality ranked FIFA teams just to reach the finals.
If you think the US has it bad, France has it worse:
- The US plays a solid Spain team (#13 FIFA) in the Round of 16. France? They draw a 10th ranked Brazil team who are battle tested after surviving the most competitive group in the qualifying round.
- If the US beats Spain, they get a quarterfinals match-up against host nation France. Tough! But if France beats Brazil, do you know who they get? The best team in the world who just set a goal scoring record in the group round–the US! No tiny violins for the US team here. France has it worse.
- Whoever wins that round then likely draws FIFA #3 England in the semis before (likely) playing FIFA #2 Germany in the finals.
The last time the Germans had such a cake walk through France…
Germany draws Nigeria (#38) in the Round of 16. Of all the top seeds, they have the highest win probability (91%) according to FiveThirtyEight (England actually has the best Round of 16 odds at -850 to Germany’s -600).
While the US and France are slugging it out in the quarters, Germany will play either Sweden or Canada. Formidable? Yes. Title contenders? No.
The semis will most likely pit the Germans against Japan (#7) or the Netherlands (#8).
Again, good teams. But not great teams.
While there’s no team with a realistic shot to win it all past the US, Germany, England, or France, some countries did receive favorable brackets and could make some noise.
The Netherlands have looked strong and have a clear path to the semis. In a knockout round format, anything can happen. They could certainly upset Germany and find themselves in the finals. It’s why they have the same probability to win it all (9%) as England.
To be fair, the same could be said for Japan if they got past the Netherlands. Japan doesn’t have the firepower though to defeat Germany in the semis.
On the US’ side of the bracket–forget about it. It would be fun to see Australia and Sam Kerr make some noise, but there are too many obstacles in their path to expect a realistic finals run.
This will most likely come down to a final between Germany and whoever survives between the US, England and France.