The Women’s World Championships starts today with host Serbia taking on Japan in the opening match at 1800 CET/ 1200 U.S. Eastern Time. The format for this year’s tournament is the same as last time with the 24 nations first being divided into 4 groups of 6 for round robin play through next Friday, 13 December.
The top 4 teams from each group will then move on into a 16 team knock out tournament, staring on Sunday, 15 December, culminating in the semifinals on Friday, 20 December and the Finals on Sunday, 20 December.
As a consolation a President’s Cup Tournament will also take place on 15 and 16 December for the 8 teams that place 5th and 6th in their groups and will rank order the teams from 13th to 24th.
Bookmaker Odds to Win the Championship
Here are the odds for each nation to win the Championship according to the sports betting site, bestbetting.com, which consolidates odds from multiple online betting sites.
Norway (1.75 to 1)
Montenegro (4.5 to 1)
France (5.5 to 1)
Serbia (12 to 1)
Spain (14 to 1)
Denmark (16 to 1)
Hungary (16 to 1)
Brazil (26 to 1)
Germany (33 to 1)
Romania (33 to 1)
South Korea (33 to 1)
Netherlands (80 to 1)
Czech Republic (200 to 1)
Angola (250 to 1)
Poland (250 to 1)
Tunisia (550 to 1)
Congo (1,000 to 1)
Algeria (1,100 to 1)
China (1,100 to 1)
DR Congo (1,100 to 1)
Japan (1,100 to 1)
Argentina (5,000 to 1)
Australia (5,000 to 1)
Dominican Republic (5,000 to 1)
Paraguay (5,000 to 1)
No real surprise that Norway, the defending 2011 World Champions, the 2012 European Championships runner up and the 2012 Olympic Champions is a strong favorite to retain their world title. Montenegro which won the 2012 European Championships and was the Olympics runner up is next in line at 4.5 to 1. As the tournament is being held right next door in Serbia they surely will have many fans on hand for their matches. Next up is France which is listed at 5.5 to 1. France was the runner up in 2011, but had a disastrous performance at the 2012 Euros placing in 9th place and a disappointing 5th place Olympic finish. These results led to the firing of longtime coach Olivier Krumbholz and his replacement with Alain Portes. Hosts Serbia, Spain, Denmark and Hungary are grouped together as mild longshots at odds from 12-1 to 16-1. Slightly longer, long shots include Brazil, Romania, Germany and South Korea at 26-1 to 33-1. From then on, the odds progressively lengthen with none of the remaining nations seen as having a realistic chance.
Rerun Tournament and European Outsiders
An interesting aspect of the tournament is that in many respects it is essentially a rerun of the 2012 European Championships that were also held in Serbia. Originally planned to be held in the Netherlands, Serbia was a last minute replacement for last year’s tournament. With many of the same venues being used there surely will be a sense of déjà vu for the European teams.
In regards to the non-European teams, again Brazil, South Korea and Angola will be the teams with decent chances to progress in the tournament. Brazil which hosted the 2011 tournament and placed a disappointing 7th probably has the best chance. South Korea is next and then Angola which has slipped in the eyes of the bookmakers. As 4 team advance from each group to the round of 16 a few other sides do have a chance of advancing out of Group Play. In Group B, China, Japan and Algeria will likely battle for the 4th place spot and in Group D, Tunisia is seen as a possibility to defeat the Czech Republic.
Fans in the U.S. and other parts of Pan America will surely be rooting for Brazil to make the top 8 as this will result in another 2015 World Championship qualification berth for the Pan American region. The U.S is rebuilding its national team squad and a top 4 finish at the 2015 Pan American Championship would seem feasible. Additionally, the U.S. will be casting its eyes on the performances of Argentina, the Dominican Republic and Paraguay as these sides along with Cuba are the teams to beat at the 2015 PANAM Games which serve as the qualification for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Beating Brazil for the U.S. or any other Pan American for that matter is unlikely, but Brazil’s hosting of the Olympics means that another Pan American side will punch a ticket for Rio at that event.
Online Web Streaming: Link
As with the Men’s Championships this past January every match of the Women’s World Championship can be viewed at LiveSport.TV: Link (Blackout restrictions, however, do apply and vary from country to country.)
IHF World Championship Webpage: Link
Host (Serbia) Webpage: Link