The FIFA Women’s World Cup is just five days away, with the opening match set to be played on Saturday 6th of June in Edmonton, Canada. For those in the UK much of the football will be broadcast live on the BBC, but with the tournament being staged in Canada, many of the games will kick off in the small hours. The curtain-raiser between Canada and China kicks off at 11pm BST on Saturday night, but England’s opener against France is a much more palatable 6pm on Tuesday 9th June. You can see a full schedule of matches on the FIFA website.
With plenty of football to look forward to in the close season, we’ve been scouring the betting markets for opportunities, and both Sweden and England look decent bets to overcome the favourites in their respective groups and top the tables.
There is an odds-on favourite in each of the groups, and rather than string together an accumulator on all of the top sides, we’re looking for the groups where there could be an upset of sorts. The top two in each group qualify for the next round, along with the four best third-placed teams. Finishing top of a group should, in theory, help a side avoid the top seeds, but with 16 of the 24 teams going through anyway, this may be less of an incentive for the big teams who will feel confident they can beat anyone. We’ve already tipped France Women and England Women for the tournament, despite both being in the same group, so let’s look at some of the selected odds for each group in turn:
Canada Women – -167 with Unibet
The hosts, Canada Women, head the betting in Group A, with China Women, Netherlands Women and New Zealand Women trying to spoil the party. It’s difficult to look beyond a good Canadian side who will have the overwhelming support compared to each of their rivals. They’re not much of a price to be backing, but we’re not of a mind to oppose them either, so this group may be best left alone.
Germany Women – -633 with Unibet
The same can be said of Group B, where Germany Women are a very short price to win the group. Norway Women are likely to provide the only real test, with Ivory Coast Women and Thailand Women both rank outsiders. Again, there is little to gain from opposing the Germans, and this group is best left.
Japan Women – -400 with Coral
Japan Women are the current World Champions, and they head the betting in Group C. Some firms quote as low as -1000 on the Japanese, so Coral’s price might appeal to favourite backers. Ecuador Women and Cameroon Women will offer little resistance, but Switzerland Women will be fancied by some to cause an upset here. They topped their qualifying group with 9 wins from 10, scoring 53 and conceding just 1 goal. The Swiss are a best price of +550 with PaddyPower, if you fancy them to top the group, but we’re passing them over due to the strength and experience of the Japanese squad.
USA Women – -250 with Unibet
Group D is one of the groups that does have some interest, and we think Sweden Women are worth a small punt to finish ahead of one of the favourites for the entire tournament, USA Women. There is no doubt that USA Women are one of the top sides in the world, and they won the recent Algarve Cup, beating France 2-0 in the final. However, Sweden Women also performed well in that tournament, finishing 4th after losing the third-place play off to Germany Women. The two sides will meet on the 12th June, and that match could go a long way to deciding the winner of the group. Sweden Women beat USA Women 1-0 in the 2014 Algarve Cup when they last met, and drew 1-1 with them in their prior meeting in the same competition in 2013. USA Women will expect to reach the last four regardless of where they finish in the group, and they may not be fully wound up for these early games. Sweden Women will certainly be fired up, and they’ll know that finishing top could help them avoid the bigger teams later in the competition.
Brazil Women – -333 with Unibet
Group E has seen Brazil Women installed as the odds-on favourites, with Spain Women perhaps the most likely to cause an upset here. South Korea Women will also be competitive, and only Costa Rica Women are considered complete outsiders for the group. However, with Spain and South Korea more than capable of taking points off each other, Brazil may not even need to be at their best to come out on top.
Group F is the other group that takes the fancy, and it’s much more competitive than most of the others. France are slight favourites ahead of England, and while we expect both to qualify ahead of Colombia Women and Mexico Women, there could be plenty of twists in this group. England won 10 out of 10 in qualification, scoring 52 and conceding 1. France meanwhile had an equal 10 out of 10 record, scoring 54 and conceding 3. France do have the better of the recent head-to-head record, but this is a new England under a new manager in Mark Sampson, and the two haven’t played yet under his tenure. It looks like a very close two-horse race for the top spot in this group, and it makes perfect sense to back the outsider of the two in England. The game between the pair on 9th June may prove decisive, but Colombia and Mexico are competent sides who could also take points off either side, and this is by far the most exciting of the six groups.
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