Women’s World Cup Hockey 2018 will have PlayOffs on July 30 and July 31. Major upsets have completely turned World Cup semifinal list upside down already ensuring that only one of the Top two seeds will reach semifinals and then only one of the top 5 seeds will reach Final. The team on rampage and with huge wins, Netherlands appear the favorite among the top 5 seeds to enter its 12th final and 13th semifinals. Germany, the only other team to have won all three matches, will have to beat two of the major surprise teams of the event to enter its 10th semifinals and 5th final. 1990 World Cup was the last time when a new team entered final, while 2006 was the last time when a new team entered semifinal. Will Women’s World Cup have a repeat of FIFA World Cup 2018!
Race to First Final: Top 5 seeds + South Korea to Provide one finalist
1st PlayOff will see 2nd seed England play South Korea and they should find a way out to meet top seed Netherlands in Quarterfinals. South Korea failed to win any match and England has just started winning at the end of Group Stage. England has reached semifinal twice (1990 and 2010), but never reached the final.
2nd PlayOff will have 3rd seed Argentina and 4th seed New Zealand contest to face 5th seed Australia in QF. New Zealand, like England have never reached final. They have reached only one semifinal (1986). Argentina and Australia are 2 time winners and 5 time finalists. Argentina has reached overall 9 semifinals, while Australia has reached 8.
Hence, only one of the top 5 seeds will reach the final. That leaves the race for other finalist open between 6th seed Germany and teams ranked 10 or lower. Germany with 3 continuous wins may feel the edge. But, Ireland, India, Italy, Belgium and Spain may feel equally confident too.
6th Seed Germany + Surprise Teams to Provide second Finalist
3rd PlayOff will see 10th seed India take on 17th seed Italy, who were exceptional except against the top seeds Netherlands, who make almost all teams nervous with their world record run. India on the other hand has its own confidence coming from holding 2nd seed England and knocking out 2014 semifinalist, USA. The winner will face Ireland, who have been the most impressive surprise team of the tournament and will be bubbling with confidence to enter semifinals.
Among the surprise teams, Ireland and Italy have never reached semifinals. Belgium has reached semifinals twice (1976, 1978), while India (1974) and Spain (2006) have reached semifinals only once each.
4th Playoff will have the confident 13th seed Belgium taking on 11th seed Spain, who lost to both the top seeds of their Pool C. Belgium on the other hand finished 2nd after holding off Group topper Australia and shocking higher seeds Japan. The winner of the PlayOff will meet Germany and considering results of 2018 World Cup so far, Germany appears the best bet to enter semifinals unless Ireland or India/Italy have some bigger tricks to throw another surprise.
Prediction for PlayOffs
Belgium has edge over Spain and New Zealand has edge over Argentina based on current form. England appears clear favourite while India appear to have better chance to reach the next level.
Unless we are headed for more surprises, 6th seed Germany appears to be the best placed team to reach final to meet one of the top 5 seeded teams who fight from PlayOffs to semifinals to dribble and muscle out others. Also, will the Goal feast stop? 24 matches of Group saw 102 goals. Now, we have 12 matches more.