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Olympic football, quarter final qualification scenarios

The final matches of the group stages happen tomorrow in the Women's tournament, and with Canada still theoretically able to finish anywhere from 1st to 4th in their group, let's take a look at what they could end up with in the quarter finals. The first thing to say, given the wide disparity in the Women's game makes a Honduras beating Spain type shock very very unlikely, is that Canada are almost guaranteed to qualify, even if they do end up with just 3 points. The current standings for all 3 groups are below the jump to refer to if necessary.

Dealing first with those 1st or 4th place options that are available, I think it's pretty safe to say that Japan will beat South Africa, thus taking both of those options off the table. No, it'll be 2nd or 3rd for Canada, depending on how they do against Sweden.

That brings us to scenario 1. Win and Canada will end up with 6 points, good for 2nd, behind the 7 Japan will presumably get with a win over South Africa. The knockout round draw has already been determined, as seen here, and a 2nd place finish would mean taking on the second place team from group E, either Brazil or Great Britain. Both have 6 points already going into their matchup, but as Brazil has the advantage in goal difference, Britain needs to win, so I'd say Brazil are the favourites to clinch first, leaving Britain in 2nd to face Canada, which is definitely a winnable game for Canada, homefield advantage notwithstanding.

Scenario 2 is that Canada only ties or loses against Sweden, and thus ends in 3rd place, and that's going to mean some scoreboard watching, and where things could get convoluted, though they probably won't.

The top 2 3rd place teams qualify, so it's a pretty low bar to make the quarters. Canada has 3 points and currently has a +2 goal difference. If they lose, that'll go down to at best +1, but maybe lower, say for example they lose by 4 goals, which seems unlikely, they'll be at -2. That would more than likely still be more than enough.

In Group E, New Zealand will play Cameroon, and should win. That will move them to 3 points also. They currently have a goal difference of -2, a win would take them to at least -1, and there's a very good chance that they'll win by more, and I'd say it's 50/50 that there could be the 4 goal swing needed between them and the Canadians for them to finish ahead.

It's group G that makes me almost certain that Canada will be fine. North Korea have 3 points already, but they're playing the US in their final game. As well as being the most talented team here, the states are ruthlessly competitive and won't be taking North Korea lightly as they'll want to clinch the top spot in their group to avoid a quarter final against Japan. North korea already have a goal difference of -3, I'm 100% certain Canada won't do 5 goals worse against Sweden than North Korea do against the US. The other possibility is Colombia, who currently have 0 points, a -5 goal difference and are playing France, who need a result themselves to ensure qualification so won't want to take it easy, so I'm fairly confident we can count Colombia out as well.

So, I'd put a lot of money on Canada getting one of the 2 3rd place spots if they don't beat Sweden, and it doesn't matter if they are the best or 2nd best, it just matters where the other one comes from. If as seems likely from the scenarios above, it's New Zealand, then that means Canada would play the 1st place team from Group E, either Great Britain or Brazil, probably Brazil. That's a tough game for sure, but Canada have played quite well against Brazil in the last few years and while I'd say Brazil would be favourites, there's definitely a chance there for Canada to make it to the Semi finals.

The two games to watch are really the ones in group E. The game between Brazil and Great Britain to decide who clinches first in the group should be a good one, and will more than likely determine who Canada faces in the quarters. Also though New Zealand against Cameroon. If that game ends in a tie, then all of a sudden the other 3rd place qualifier would come from group G, and that would mean Canada would get bumped to the other part of the draw, and a quarter final against the US, and nobody wants that.

To sum up, I'd say Canada are 99% guaranteed to qualify and there's a very good chance they'll be able to avoid the US and get a very winnable quarter final. From there, who knows what can happen.

Team MP W D L GF GA Pts
Brazil 2 2 0 0 6 0 6
Great Britain 2 2 0 0 4 0 6
New Zealand 2 0 0 2 0 2 0
Cameroon 2 0 0 2 0 8 0

Team MP W D L GF GA Pts
Sweden 2 1 1 0 4 1 4
Japan 2 1 1 0 2 1 4
Canada 2 1 0 1 4 2 3
South Africa 2 0 0 2 1 7 0

Team MP W D L GF GA Pts
USA 2 2 0 0 7 2 6
France 2 1 0 1 7 4 3
Korea DPR 2 1 0 1 2 5 3
Colombia 2 0 0 2 0 5 0