Olympic Women’s Draw (Analysis)

The past week has seen the Men’s and Women’s Draws for the Olympic Games and Beijing as well as the Draw for the 2009 Men’s World Championships in Croatia. Here’s my analysis of the Women’s draw. In upcoming days I’ll take a look a the Men, both for the Olympics and the World Championships.

The 12 teams were drawn into 2 groups of 6 teams. Odds to win the Gold Medal are in parentheses and are from canbet.com

[b]Group A[/b]
Norway (2.5 to 1)
Romania (4.5 to 1)
France (40 to 1)
China (200 to 1)
Angola (100 to 1)
Kazakhstan (1000 to 1)

[b]Group B[/b]
Russia (1.25 to 1)
Germany (15 to 1)
Hungary (10 to 1)
South Korea (16 to 1)
Sweden (100 to 1)
Brazil (250 to 1)

The format for competition is Group round robin, followed by knockout quarter finals, semifinals and final. With the top 4 teams qualifying from each group this means that 8 teams will make the “playoffs” while only 4 teams will be relegated to playing for 9th place. With the knockout format, its important to note that a 5-0 record in group play doesn’t mean a thing if that 2-3 record 4th seed from the other Group beats you in the knockout quarterfinal.

[b]Group A: [/b] Looking strictly at the odds (and I agree with them except the odds for Angola, which should be much lower) this Group looks pretty straight forward in that Norway, Romania, France and Angola are very likely to advance. Kazakhstan, which qualified under dubious circumstances stands no chance and host China has not impressed in recent competition. At home, however, they will have a long shot chance to surprise France and maybe Angola. Norway and Romania should battle it out for 1st, while France and Angola will battle for 3rd. Because of the strength of Group B, however, it probably won’t make much difference to the teams as to whether they finish 1st, 2nd or 3rd. 4th place, however, is a different story as that team, in all likelihood will face the daunting prospect of beating Russia in the quarterfinals.

Predicted order of finish: 1) Norway, 2) Romania, 3) Angola, 4) France, 5) China, 6) Kazakhstan

[b]Group B: [/b] This Group will be more competitive with all 6 teams having realistic chances to advance in my opinion. I agree that the four favorites are Russia, Germany, Hungary and South Korea, but it’s well within possibility for Sweden or Brazil to beat any team in Group B, excepting Russia. The 250-1 odds for Brazil, in particular, are way out of whack.

Predicted order of finish 1) Russia, 2) Hungary, 3) South Korea, 4) Germany, 5) Brazil, 6) Sweden

As far as who will win, I'll timidly predict a repeat of the Women’s World Championships with Russia beating Norway for the title, again. In terms of a surprise team, I’ll go with Angola making it to the semifinals. They showed that they could play and beat European teams in Germany. There’s no reason to not think they can do even better against the European sides this time around, who will not have the advantage of playing just a few hours from home.