The USA will step out in Paris on Sunday for the Final of the Women’s World Cup, looking to secure a title defence. They have once again proven to be the ones to beat at this level and while they have been challenged, they don’t look like losing their grip on their status of World champions at any point.
The odds on USA women to beat Netherlands Women will see the Americans kick off as 4/9 favourites* (Betting Odds were taken from bet365 on July 4th, 2019 at 9:10 p.m.)
USA Women 4/9
Netherlands Women 15/2
* (Betting Odds were taken from bet365 on July 4th, 2019 at 9:10 p.m.)
The Americans found themselves as second favourites in the pre-tournament outright winner market to France. That was because the French were in form, are stacked with some of Europe’s best talent and had home soil advantage. It didn’t take long for the reigning champion the USA to march their way back to the position of being favourites. From their opening 13-0 win over Thailand, the USA once again haven’t looked back.
Building on that remarkably opening win, they then beat Chile 5-0 and Sweden 2-0. So it was a big return from the USWNT early on. But were they simply on a path to burn out a little bit early? Not at all. While they have had tougher challenges as they would have expected in the knockouts, they haven’t looked like falling to anyone that they have been up against. If they win on Sunday it will be their fourth World Cup title and mean that they have won half of the eight editions of the tournament. The odds on USA to beat Sweden to nil are at 5/4* (Betting Odds were taken from bet365 on July 4th, 2019 at 9:10 p.m.). Four years ago they thumped Japan 5-2 in a lop-sided final for their third title.
Carli Loyd won the Golden Ball for best player and was joint top scorer in the tournament alongside Germany’s Celia Sasic, four years ago. It has largely been all about Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe this time around. Morgan is the darling of the USWNT, a player who transcends her sport amongst.
She fired off five goals in their opening win over Thailand and didn’t add to that tally until the semi-finals when she netted against England. She hasn’t quite looked at her best, but she has goals in her. Megan Rapinoe who scored the USA’s two goals against both Spain and France is just one behind Morgan in the race to win the Golden Boot.
The Americans have a huge fitness level advantage. You can see it in their matches. They often look a step quicker than anyone else, they move the ball in a much quicker way than any other team can do and their stamina doesn’t seem to wane. Their superior fitness levels have been noticed more and more through the knockouts stage, where they have taken three consecutive 2-1 success over Spain, France and England.
Any time you look at the Americans you think that it is going to take more than one goal to beat them. That’s a huge problem for any opponent. This is a team now who are on an eleven match winning streak in World Cup matches and who are unbeaten in thirteen. They thrive at the top and here they are again. They are riding another huge wave of form and they are going to take some stopping. In their current form, they are on a twelve-match winning streak. They have scored at least two goals in each of their last eleven.
To make the Final the Netherlands had to come through an extra time period against Sweden. The Dutch were on an eight-match winning streak of form before playing out to a 0-0 draw against Sweden over 90 minutes. So they had from behind them. They have scored at least two goals in four their six World Cup this campaign, but still, they haven’t looked particularly impressive side.
They have relied on moments of magic from key players and have barely raised themselves above looking like an average side at the best of times. This is their first experience of a World Cup Final. They are the reigning European champions but they were playing much better, much stronger stuff on their way to the European title than they have done at this World Cup. They are now facing the elite. At no stage of their campaign have they faced such high quality.
It is hard to see where the Netherlands get a foothold in this game. Their midfield area is nowhere near as good as that of the Americans. At times the Dutch have looked really ragged and a bit short of quality. They have some star power that can rise to the occasion, but as a team, they fall a long way short of the quality of the Americans. The odds on USA women to beat Netherlands Women will see the Americans kick off as 4/9 favourites* (Betting Odds were taken from bet365 on July 4th, 2019 at 9:10 p.m.) and it’s hard to question that.
It will be an all-European clash in the semifinals of the Women’s World Cup down in the bottom half of the draw. Reigning European Champions the Netherlands have already put together their best ever run at a World Cup. Can they put themselves on the brink of a potential holding both European and World crowns at the same time? Or will Sweden, who have put together a tactically solid campaign, cause an upset?
The Odds on Sweden Women to beat Netherlands Women are at 21/10* (Betting Odds were taken from bet365 on June 30th, 2019 at 9:02 p.m.)
Netherlands Women 13/10
Sweden Women 21/10
* (Betting Odds were taken from bet365 on June 30th, 2019 at 9:02 p.m.)
Everyone seemed pretty impressed by the tactical approach from Sweden in their quarter-final tie against Germany. Sweden had been underdogs against the Germans, who had not conceded in the tournament up until that point. When Sweden fell behind in the game early on, things looked ominous for the Swedes. However, they nullified the threat of the Germans from there on and managed to work their way back in the game to take a 2-1 win.
They produced a wonderful balance between attack and defence and came up trumps. The key factor about Sweden’s performance in that game was their threat on the counter-attack. Throughout this tournament, particular in the knockout stages, they have been happy to play to their defensive strengths and look for the counter-attacking opportunities. They did in the round of sixteen when they were up against Canada, picking their opponents off in a 1-0 win.
Their hero in their last two matches has been Stina Blackstenius who has been superb. She has netted the winner in their two knockout stage matches. She has taken the chances for them on the break. But again, all of their work was built off of their defensive performances. Their full-backs against Germany nullified a huge threat from Germany and they are going to have to be on their toes signs against the dynamic triple threat up front of the Netherlands.
Sweden are the only side to have come from behind to progress through a knockout stage tie in this World Cup. That shows the depth of their resolve really. Their success over Germany extended their streak of having scored in every single one of their World Cup knockout stage matches that they have played in their history. That will be a total of 22 goals across 14 fixtures.
In the group stage, Sweden were up against the USA. Both teams had won their opening matches ahead of their meeting in the final round of matches. Instead of the Swedes pushing on and challenging the Americans to top the group, they didn’t really seem to be that interested in doing so. At that stage, there was no point busting a gut trying to win out in toppling the USA to getting first place.
Sweden went under strength for the game, resting some key players and settled for second best. That meant that were likely to get an easier run in the bottom half of the draw because it sent the USA up to the top half of the draw alongside France and England, two of the other main contenders for the title. It was realistically, only Germany that they had to deal with down in that bottom half of the bracket. So it may have been a calculated risk not to challenge the USA when it didn’t really matter to do so.
The defence of the Swedes then is going to be the key component in this semi-final duel. They are not suddenly going to go and get expansive and take on the Netherlands in that manner. Sweden have won five of their last six games and across that sequence of games have taken a total, of course, clean sheets. In their last ten games played they tallied up an impressive number of seven clean sheets. So their defensive strengths are certainly there. Will they be able to keep the star power of Lieke Martens and Vivianne Miedema quiet.
The Dutch have taken their current winning streak to eight. That’s obviously not to be sneezed at and it makes for impressive reading. However, they have not at any point during this tournament looked as convincing as they could be. They are blessed with top talents Vivianne Miedema and Lieke Martens and they have both come to their country’s call at times in this tournament.
But they have looked a little rocky and have needed late interventions like their stoppage-time winner against New Zealand in the group stage and a 90th-minute penalty in their round of sixteen tie against Japan to squeeze through. They have just one clean sheet in their last five. They will be expected to do most of the attacking in the game. But will they be able to crack the tough Swedish defence?
Sweden look a viable option here. They are strong defensively and they are not worried about playing on the break and not being an expensive side. Those are their strengths. They have some big players to try and shut down in this one, but they performed so well in defence against Germany that they can follow up against the Netherlands. The Odds on Sweden Women to beat Netherlands Women are at 21/10* (Betting Odds were taken from bet365 on June 30th, 2019 at 9:02 p.m.)