In the Women's Euro 2013 tournament, the best squad of the 12 teams entered will be expected to rise to the top, but some will have an easier time than others.
This event features round-robin scheduling in the group stage before heading to the knockout rounds. The quarterfinals will include not only the top two teams from each of the three groups, but also the two best third-place teams.
Adding these extra spots makes it easier for certain teams to advance to the next round, especially if they are in a weaker group. These factors contribute to the following ranking of the groups in the tournament.
3. Group A (Sweden, Italy, Denmark, Finland)
Sweden is as formidable an opponent as there is in this tournament. The host squad is led by former United States coach Pia Sundhage and have a number of quality scorers, including Lotta Schelin.
However, the rest of the group is relatively weak. Italy and Denmark should have a good battle for second place in the table, but everyone should be able to beat up on Finland, who has never qualified for a World Cup in its history.
Finland has been even worse recently, dropping a couple of spots in the FIFA world rankings.
Second place is clearly up for grabs in this group and it should be relatively easy for any of the top teams to advance.
2. Group C (France, England, Russia, Spain)
The thing that makes this group difficult is the balance at the top. France and England are expected to be the top two teams in the standings, and what they do against each other will likely have a huge impact on the entire tournament.
France has done exceptionally well in international tournaments recently, reaching the semifinals at both the 2011 World Cup and 2012 Summer Olympics. Of course, England always seems to do well in European competitions.
While Spain and Russia are likely overmatched on paper, they both have plenty of talent on the roster and are certain to make things difficult for every opponent they face.
It will be tough for any team to win this group, and even advancing to the next stage will be a challenge.
1. Group B (Germany, Norway, Netherlands, Iceland)
It is unlikely that Norway, Netherlands or Iceland were happy when the draws came out and saw Germany in the group. The squad is always one of the best teams in the world and it has won the last five European championships.
Despite a poor showing in the recent World Cup, it should expect to bounce back with another strong effort at this tournament and be one of the top contenders to win it all.
Of course, the rest of the group is also strong. In fact, three of the four teams reached the semifinals in the last Euros in 2009. Norway and the Netherlands especially can play with anyone in the world.
Any of these four teams would be deserving of an appearance in the quarterfinals, but they are likely to beat up on each other and see only the top two advance.
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