Soccer

FIFA Women's World Cup: Canada projected as 5th best bet for title

With the 24-team Women's World Cup kicking off Saturday in Edmonton, it's interesting to note that Canada's team is ranked seventh according to a leading sports forecaster, but could have the fifth-best chance of reaching the final on July 5.

United States, Germany favoured by website FiveThirtyEight

With Christine Sinclair leading the way, Canada is projected to have a 93.2 percent chance of advancing to the second round of the Women's World Cup and a seven percent chance to win the tournament. (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

With the 24-team Women's World Cup kicking off Saturday in Edmonton, it's interesting to note that Canada's team is ranked seventh according to a leading sports forecaster, but could have the fifth-best chance of reaching the final on July 5.

That's according to FiveThirtyEight, the Nate Silver-founded polls aggregation site that developed the Soccer Power Index prior to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Silver was a must-read for baseball sabermetric fans during his days with Baseball Prospectus before accurately predicting 100 per cent of the state-by-state electoral college votes in the 2008 United States presidential race.

Silver and Jay Boiyce used half of the formula for the men's tournament when compiling the WSPI (Women's Soccer Power Index) because the women don't play anywhere close to as many club matches as in men's soccer. So their index uses national team rankings based on a database of 8,000 international matches since 1971. Allison McCann and Boiyce wrote the blog that accompanies the rankings of the 24 teams about to compete in Canada

The rankings are a combination of how effectively a team can score based on the strength of its opponent and how effective they are at preventing the opposition from scoring.

The top 10 ranked teams for the 2015 Women's World Cup are: 1. Germany, 2. United States, 3. Japan, 4. France, 5. Brazil, 6. Sweden, 7. Canada, 8. England, 9. Norway and 10. Australia.

Canada, in Group A, is given a 93 per cent chance of advancing to the second round as two teams from each of the six groups, plus four other third-place teams move into the round of 16. Group A is rated as the most evenly matched group.

Only six other teams are rated with better chances of advancing than Canada. Germany leads the way at 99.9 per cent, followed by Japan (99.6) Brazil (98) France (96.8) and the United States (96.2).

Playing in Group D, the Group of Death, the United States faces Sweden, Australia and Nigeria. But as they are expected to advance from the first round, their road to the World Cup title gets a little easier, according to the WSPI, leading to the highest percentage of winning, 28 per cent, barely edging out Germany at 27 per cent.

Japan is ranked at 10 per cent to win the tournament, followed by France at eight per cent, then Canada at seven, ahead of higher-ranked teams Brazil and Sweden, who are expected to have more difficult journeys beyond the opening round of the tournament.

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