The knockout stages of the World Championships start today and the bracket certainly has some interesting matchups both in the Round of 16 and potentially in the quarter finals. Most notably, Sweden’s surprising upset of Norway on the last day of pool play created a bottom half of the bracket which is loaded with pre-tournament favorites. Here’s a breakdown of the 4 quadrants of the bracket (listed in parentheses is each team’s current odds courtesy of Nordicbet to win the championship). The winner of each quadrant will advance to the Final Four.
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Well, conspiracy theorists thinking that perhaps the hosts and the IHF wanted to give Germany a good shot at making the Final Four might have some pretty solid arguments backing their case. This is the weakest bracket and for sure the prospect of Germany knocking off Sweden in the quarterfinals is far better than it would have been against Norway.
France is the favorite in this bracket, but really all four teams here have a decent shot at advancing.
Czech Republic 149-1
It looks as if it’s preordained for Romania and the Netherlands will battle in the quarterfinals, but then again the Netherlands had a surprising loss vs South Korea in pool play. The Japanese are smaller than the Koreans, but even quicker so the Dutch better be ready for them.
South Korea 39-1
This quadrant could almost have been a Final Four with 3 of the top 7 pre-tournament favorites. A likely quarterfinal match between Russia and Norway could easily have been the gold medal final. Honestly, the way this shapes up it’s as if Norway wanted to make the knockout stages as interesting as possible for the fans back home.