1) France - Should be no surprise I have them first since I have for several years now. I watched them play a couple games and things looked about as expected. It will be interesting to see where they fit some guys in this year. They will miss Benno.
2) Poland - Poland are the ultimate team. A healthy Jay is huge for Poland as they are not exactly a goal scoring power. If they ever concede 3 goals in a game it could spell trouble for them. Their roster is just solid top to bottom.
3) Canada - Here is where I start going off the script. They are flying under the radar right now but that will change as soon as they play. I have watched them play and they were by far the most impressive team I have seen so far and they didn't have all their guys.
4) Saudi Arabia - From what I have heard you do not want to play Saudi Arabia. They have picked up some of the Sudan players to add to what was a strong team. I heard they have had a few very heated exhibition games that were on the cusp. Have a feeling they won't be a fan favourite.
5) Laos - Yep way down here in 5th. My question with Laos is how sharp are they going to be. I know a lot of their better haven't played a whole lot of soccer consistently and this is a tough tournament to work your way back in. Laos' fate may be decided in their opening game against Germany. Should be a good one.
6) Jamaica - Even while I am writing this it feels strange having Jamaica this high to begin a tournament. They have a starting lineup and that is about it. Not a ton of depth on this team. In the end their downfall will be that they don't have a keeper. It's just a matter of time.
7) Nigeria - I love watching Nigeria play. They probably play the most attacking football in the entire tournament. They also concede the most goals. Once again Nigeria will don't have a great keeper so they will be required to score. Fortunately they are good at that.
8) ROI - Currently in a very fluid situation. Really have no idea who is going to show up to what games. Will need to make it through to the knockout stages to see a full team.
9) Germany - If one team is going to cause a big upset it will be these guys. I would venture to call them a poor mans Poland. Hard workers but not quite there skill wise. You'll know you were in a game with them though. I have my eye on that Germany - Laos game.
10) England - Here's where things start to get dicey. I have England here solely because I know its the Medicine Hat college team. That should mean they are ok. Right?
11) First Nations - I have been saying this since I first saw they were in the tournament. They will be better than people think they will be. We will see if I am right.
12) Serbia - This is a team that made it to the knockout stages last year. They have lost blog favourite Darko which really hurts. Don't see them making it out again this this year.
13) Greece - We all know what to expect from Greece. Pain. I think their best chance to leave a mark on this years tournament is in tonight primetime matchup with France. Get stuck in boys.
14) Norway - Norway is mainly the same team we have seen for years. Will put up a good fight but ultimately seem to come out on the losing side in the end.
15) Italy - Just won't have the skill to hang with the big boys in their group. Should be a toss up between them Greece and Serbia.
16) Colombia - I have seen Colombia get thoroughly dismantled several times in the past weeks. I don't expect much from them.
17) N. Ireland - They have definitely thrown some kinks into the system before but never able to put it together consistently. A team that could be a riser.
18) Portugal - Assuming nothing has changed since last year they won't be a factor in the grand scheme of things.
19) Afghanistan - I have Afghanistan really low and it may be a real mistake. I am assuming that the majority of the good players are on Saudi Arabia but I could be very, very wrong. I flat out know nothing about this team.
20) Scotland - If Scotland was as good as they seem to think they are they would be number 1 here. I on the other hand don't see it that way. Chose a hard group and will get thumped for it.
21) South Korea - I really, really hope they are better than last year. They have to be right?
22) Eritrea - I have seen them play and they almost lost to a U-16 boys team. There is absolutely no doubting that they meet the heritage requirements.
1) Scotland – Take a team that was probably good enough to win it last year and add two formidable goal-scorers into the mix.
2) Germany – Even though they come in defending champions, most of the team hasn’t been training or playing as much as last year.
3) Ukraine – Skilled, tactical, determined players with a lot of competitive experience. Always near the top.
4) Poland – Have a stronger roster than last year but they have never actually beaten a top 4 team.
5) Netherlands – Always plays a competitive tournament but has yet to advance from group stages.
6) Canada – A “new” team who will have to play with more consistency if they want to contend. Will be a difficult task being in Group A.
7) Ireland – Have some decent players, but mostly just ranked here because the little I know about them is more promising than what I know about the rest of the teams.
8) Hungary – Young, decently skilled, but easily rattled. Ranked ahead of ES because they should be able to get some wins in an easy Group B.
9) El Salvador – Also brought in some decent youth talent but will struggle in Group A. If they can stay together and keep recruiting, look for them to compete in a couple years.
10) Portugal – Did well to be in Group B. They’ll rely on a few key players and strong work ethic to hold their own in a few games.
11) USA – Very little technical skill considering how many of them are in/just coming out of club programs. Even less motivation.
12) Northern Ireland – Friends who play division 4 together, but you have to start somewhere. I really do hope these women have fun because at the end of the day that’s what it’s supposed to be about.