Ravi Vasudevan continues his in-depth look into the Men’s division with an assessment of where things stand heading into power pools.
Monday marked the end of pool play, so we are on to power pools today. The winners of these pools get a guaranteed spot in the quarter-finals with a crossover match against another pool winner. The second and third seed of each pool face each other in a pre-quarter and the fourth place team moves straight to the ninth place bracket. Let’s take a look at these pools.
Pool J – USA, Australia, Czech Republic, South Africa
There is a clear divide between the top and bottom of the pool here. In WUGC 2012, Australia nearly beat the USA in power pools on universe point but a hammer went off the fingertips of an Australian receiver in the endzone. Both teams are performing well, but Australia had a much tougher pool opponent in Colombia than the USA have had so far. Seeing how the Czechs and South Africans have played so far, I don’t see them challenging the top two and picking the winner between them is pretty tough, but I think the Czechs have a slight edge.
Game to Watch – USA vs Australia
Pool K – GB, Belgium, Colombia, Singapore
This pool is very interesting. Belgium comfortably won their pool as did GB. Based on previous matchups, GB seems to be stronger than Belgium, but we do not know how Colombia will match up against the Europeans. Singapore are also a bit of an unknown as they have only been crushed by the USA and crushed Mexico themselves. I think GB will take this pool, followed by Colombia and Belgium, but I think this will be a really tight pool with some great games.
Game to Watch – GB vs Colombia
Pool L – Canada, Japan, France, Ireland
Canada vs Japan in power pools. This was an infamous game in WUGC 2012. If you haven’t heard about it, Google it. It looks like the game will be livestreamed and let’s just say that I think the viewership on this one will be extremely high. France and Ireland have played each other three times this season with France beating Ireland twice at Windmill and Ireland getting a win at Confederations Cup. I think there is a bit of a gap between the the top two (Japan and Canada) and the bottom two (France and Ireland). However, those matchups will be extremely tight. I think Canada will take it the pool this time and Ireland vs France is just too close to call.
Game to Watch – Canada vs Japan
Pool M – Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Sweden
This looks like the weakest of the power pools so far. Germany has been underperforming so far with a 15-13 win over Finland and a 15-12 win over Ireland. Switzerland have had an impressive showing so far but they have yet to see really solid competition. Austria and Sweden round out the pool from their second place finishes in their starting pools. I think that Germany will take this one but they will need to win a tight game against Switzerland to get there. I think Switzerland will take the second place and Sweden will have a bit of an upset taking out Austria to get to the bracket. Sweden always seem to make brackets at these types of tournaments even though their early tournament results have not been the most impressive.
Game to Watch – Germany vs Switzerland
This stage is where the tournament starts to get a bit more interesting. The competition gets tighter and the stakes for the games are higher. Expect some fireworks, especially in pools K and L.