An advanced guide to the 2015 Women’s World Cup

We’ve been building to our deep dig. Over the last two days, we’ve walked through beginner and novice versions of Women’s World Cup guides, acknowledging most fans dropping in for this summer’s tournament haven’t spent the last three years obsessing over women’s soccer. As somebody who does, I know how hard it is. It’s a lot of YouTube streams, pop-up ad whack-a-mole with illegal streams and excavation projects on foreign language sites that leave you at the mercy of Google translate. In time, this type of improvisation will fade away, but for now, too many women’s soccer fans are left acting like some kind of digital Indiana Jones.

But if you’ve survived those first two posts, you’re caught up. And if you’re here, you’re a glutton for more, which is a good attitude to have since we’ll be throwing the frills and hand-holding out the window. When you click on an “advanced guide” (not to be confused with an expert’s guide), you’re ready to talk about more than format, favorites, and the five or six familiar faces broadcasters will force in front of you. You want to know matchups, possibilities, scenarios, implications and, although they don’t matter at all, predictions. You want a reference point, even if it’s buried beneath a sea of names you’d never heard of 48 hours ago. Because when Canada 2015 kicks off today in Edmonton, those names will be your protagonists for the next six weeks, and we all need something to hold onto.

GATINEAU, QC - DECEMBER 6: The final results are displayed during the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup Final Draw at the Canadian Museum of History on December 6, 2014 in Gatineau, Quebec, Canada.  (Photo by Francois Laplante/Getty Images)Getty Images

GATINEAU, QC - DECEMBER 6: The final results are displayed during the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup Final Draw at the Canadian Museum of History on December 6, 2014 in Gatineau, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Francois Laplante/Getty Images)

This is the deep dig – the dense, overbearing, jump as deep as you need into the what those YouTube-dwelling diehards live 365 days a year. We’re going to go group-by-group and game-by-game, because in a group stage, where tiebreakers could decide which teams make the knockout round, the order of games matters. We’re going to talk about who needs to be stopped, who can stop them and the chances they have of doing so.

And most importantly, we’re going to talk about who can realistically win the 2015 Women’s World Cup. Among this expanse of new names, there are favorites, but there are also underdogs who can derail them. How, when, and why that might happen is what these group previews are about. Choose your path, below.

Note: Along the way, we’ll be using FiveThirtyEight.com’s model as a reference point. The database of results Allison McCann and the 538 team have accumulated is the best, most objective projection we’ve found. That doesn’t mean their predictions are perfect, but it does give us a jumping off point – a place from which to ask “what about this team makes us think it can defy this unbiased prediction?”

Intro | Group A | Group B | Group C | Group D | Group E | Group F | Knockout rounds
Beginner’s Guide | Novice’s Guide | Advanced Guide
It’s a real big deal | 9 things from the internet | Nice try, Panini | FIFA distractions

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