The Women’s World Cup is reaching the end of the group stage, and it has already been a tournament full of goals, action and entertainment. The final round of group matches are set to be played over the next few days, and with 16 of the 24 teams progressing to the knockout stage, there’s still plenty to play for.
The usual suspects are all looking fairly ominous, although only Japan and Brazil have posted 100% records so far. Japan beat Switzerland and Cameroon to secure their place in the last 16 ahead of their last game against Ecuador, while Brazil beat South Korea and Spain to book their ticket with a game against Costa Rica to spare. Both will have the opportunity to rest players for those last fixtures and will be teams to watch in the second round.
USA Women were the outright favourites for the tournament before it started, and they sit top of their group at the moment, despite dropping points in a 0-0 draw with Sweden. They require a minimum of a point from their clash with Nigeria to guarantee a second round spot. Germany Women were also well-fancied before the event and they posted an impressive 10-0 win against Ivory Coast in the first game, before drawing 1-1 with Norway.
England and France were our pre-tournament tips and both have work to do to qualify, but both have their destiny in their own hands and are fancied to do the business. The two groups that catch the eye are group F which those two sides contest, and group D which contains USA and Sweden women. Both groups will be played out on Wednesday, but the group D games kick off at 1:00am so make sure the bets are on by Tuesday night for those games.
Wednesday 17th June
Australia Women v Sweden Women 01:00 (BST)
Sweden Women have a decent pedigree and would have expected better than two draws from their opening games. The 0-0 with USA was a fine result, but the 3-3 draw with Nigeria in their first match was a disappointment. They now face a do-or-die clash with Australia as both look to finish strongly and qualify for the next stage. The Matildas have three points from their two games – a 3-1 defeat to USA and a 2-0 victory over Nigeria – and a draw here would all but guarantee qualification. That may not be enough for Sweden though, who would have to hope three points would be enough to see them through in third place.
Australia Women – +300 with PaddyPower
That’s why we’re backing Sweden to come out on top and get the three points that will guarantee their own qualification. They’ve won six of the nine meetings between the pair, with two draws and one Aussie win. The Swedish women also knocked Australia out of the last World Cup in Germany, winning 3-1 in the quarter-finals en route to a third-placed finish in the tournament.
Nigeria Women v USA Women 01:00 (BST)
The other game is much more one-sided with the powerful USA side facing bottom-of-the-group Nigeria. The highlight of their World Cup so far was the 3-3 draw with Sweden when they came from 2-0 down and grabbed a late equalizer to share the points. They followed that up with a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Australia though, and now they face the tournament favourites with just one point to their name.
USA women have won all three times these two have met, scoring 14 goals to Nigeria’s 1, and it’s hard to see any other result than a USA win. Sweden had been expected to provide the competition in this group, but that draw with Nigeria has left the door open for USA to top the group with relative ease, and they won’t need a second invitation. The Nigerian women will put up a good fight, but USA should end their World Cup dream as they cruise into the second round.
Over in group F it couldn’t be tighter, as Colombia women’s shock win over France blew the group wide open. The Colombian’s now sit top with four points, while England and France are joint second with three points, England just ahead by virtue of goal difference. At the bottom are Mexico with a single point from their draw with Colombia.
England Women v Colombia Women 21:00 (BST)
Despite taking on the group leaders, England will be confident of qualifying, and they are worth backing to win this game to make sure of it. The opening match against France was a shade disappointing as England went down 1-0 with an awkward defensive display, but they got back to their best as Fran Kirby inspired them to a 2-1 win over Mexico.
England Women – -175 with PaddyPower
Colombia drew 1-1 with Mexico in the opening game, and the result against France is probably the shock of the World Cup so far. It would be foolish to read too much into that though, as the French dominated the game and had countless shots, before being hit on the break by Colombia. The South Americans are ranked 28th in the world, while England are ranked 6th, so the Three Lionesses can expect to be on the front foot as they were against Mexico. Mark Sampson’s team is much better suited to an attacking style, as the tepid defeat against France demonstrated, and they can play this game with the relative comfort of knowing that they should progress.
England Women – -175 with PaddyPower
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