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.
England’s Lionesses knew at some point in the draw that they were going to hit a huge hurdle. Here comes, their semi-final against the reigning champions the USA. There is a monumental task ahead of Phil Neville’s team to pull off an upset in this one.
No-one thus far in the tournament has come close to knocking the Americans off their perch. Can the Lionesses pull off a surprise though? The Odds on England Women to beat USA Women have the Lionesses as 16/5 underdogs* (Betting Odds were taken from bet365 on June 30th, 2019 at 9:02 p.m.).
USA Women 17/20
England Women 16/5
* (Betting Odds were taken from bet365 on June 30th, 2019 at 9:02 p.m.)
To be fair, none of the group stage performances from England were particularly convincing. They opened with a 2-1 win over Scotland and then edged past Argentina before sounding off with a victory over Japan. It was progress but they hadn’t put together a solid match in those three group stage games. Then came their really fragmented duel with Cameroon in the round of sixteen, which descended into chaos, so rhythm was hard to find.
But then things came together for England in the quarterfinals. They were up against Norway and right from the kickoff, England took control. They quickly got into an attacking mode and never let their opponents settle. With an early goal on the board through Jill Scott, England were comfortable throughout the 90 minutes and did a superb job of shutting down the main threats of their opponents. So the way that they played in that game will really have filled them with belief that they can go further.
England are W1 D1 L4 in six previous meetings with the USA
There was a 2-2 earlier this year at the SheBelievesCup
England have lost four of the last five meetings by a 1-0 scoreline
The USA have outscored England 8-3 in previous meetings
Ellen White has been the surprise package of the tournament for England in terms of goals. It was all about how much Nikita Parris was going to be able to deliver for them. But White has come up big time for the Lionesses, and with a five-goal haul, jointly sits at the top of the goalscoring charts with another two games to play. She looks so confident and sharp and White is at 3/1 odds in the anytime goalscorer market* (Betting Odds were taken from bet365 on June 30th, 2019 at 9:02 p.m.).
The worrying thing will be a lack of support for Whites. Parris, who scored England’s first goal of the tournament from a spot kick, has subsequently missed two penalty kicks in the tournament, Frank Kirby has continued no goals to the cause and neither has Toni Duggan. Aside from White, three of the other five English players to score at the tournament have been defenders. White can’t be expected to carry the can on her own against a formidable USA defence.
Ahead of the World Cup England had taken two clean sheets in eight games and that was a big concern for them at the time heading into the World Cup. They conceded in that opening game against Scotland, deep into the second half. However, that is the only goal that they have shipped during this campaign. It has been four clean sheets on the bounce from them and that has been a huge output from them.
Can they stand strong against a powerful USA attack? The Americans are so deadly in front of goal highlighted by their huge tally at the tournament so far. So England have to find a way to shut them down. But it is a five-match winning streak at the moment and so the Lionesses do have a bit of wind in their sails.
The performance against Norway was brilliant. Everyone will have noticed how good that one. They will be looking to banish some harsh memories of the 2015 World Cup semi final too. Four years ago when they missed out on the Final after scoring an own goal in stoppage time against Japan.
The USA can’t be taken lightly. They had a tremendously easy time of things in the group stage and they took 2-1 wins over Spain and then host nation France in the round of sixteen and quarter finals respectively. So they were challenged a little bit more. Against Spain, their only route to goal was from two spot-kicks converted from Megan Rapinoe. Rapinoe also struck both of their goals in their win over France.
She is just part of a lethal attacking threat which also contains Carli Lloyd and Alex Morgan. The USA have now made it to the semi-finals in all eight of their World Cup appearances which is an astonishing record. The Americans are on a ten-match winning streak in World Cup matches at the moment and are unbeaten in twelve. Their current form is spectacular too. They played out a 2-2 with England back at the SheBelivesCup and since then they have won eleven on the bounce. They have taken a tally of eight clean sheets in that sequence of fixtures.
The Lionesses are going to need the perfect performance in this one. No two ways about it. They are going to have their work cut out. But there have been moments against Spain and France where the USA have come under some pressure. England have to find that balance between defence and attacking and maybe set pieces are the way for the Lionesses. This is a huge moment.
The Odds on England Women to beat USA Women have the Lionesses as 16/5 underdogs* (Betting Odds were taken from bet365 on June 30th, 2019 at 9:02 p.m.)
The biggest match of the 2019 Women’s World Cup so far will happen on Friday. This will be the quarter-final showdown between France and the USA. Pre-tournament it was France who had been backed into favourites, with them holding home advantage as hosts.
But some powerful performances from the Americans has shifted things in their favour. Who wins this heavyweight duel? The odds on France Women to beat USA Women are at 6/5* (betting odds taken from bet365 on June 27th, 2019 at 12:36 pm)
US Women 6/5
France Women 9/4
* (betting odds taken from bet365 on June 27th, 2019 at 12:36 pm)
The French do have home advantage and on such a big night that would make a world of difference for them. At times the hosts has been simply brilliant in this tournament. They have rocked things out with some supremely impressive spells of attacking football. Of course, no team in the world is going to be able to sustain high standards match after match. The French have had bits of luck go their way, such as their winning goal against Norway in their second game.
They also had a retaken spot kick to beat Nigeria in their final group stage game. But the thing about them is that they create chances. So they do in large chunks create their luck almost. They have such a wonderfully strong core of players, most of them from Lyon and it comes together well for them. They have pace and finishing power in Eugenie Le Sommer and Valerie Gauvin up front.
Amandine Henry pulls the attacking strings from the middle of the park and you have serial winner Wendie Renard at the back. The French have also unleashed one of the quickest, most devastating wingers in the world as well. That will Kadidiatou Diani who is blisteringly quick, although her crossing has let her down at times. But France have pace, they have power and skill. Will it be enough to see them knock out the USA?
The French, despite winning their group, weren’t rewarded with an easy round of sixteen tie either. They had to go up against Brazil and that was an extended game going through extra time. It was Amandine Henry who settled it before the dreaded penalty shootout game along.
But that was a series test of their character and how well they can handle pressure in such a big tie. They got through that challenge, and it was a good test, especially when the Brazilians just started to throw caution to the wind and attack, of how well the French may be able to compete against the USA.
The French are undefeated in their last three games against the USA so there has been a bit of a minimum shift between the two nations. Their most recent meeting was back in January this year with the French winning 3-1. That is two wins in their last three games now that they have taken against the Americans (D1). It is clearly perceived that they are the ones who are the most likely to prevent the USA from winning the title again.
No one is expecting the reigning champions the USA to go down without a fight of course. They are the most successful nation in the history of the tournament. They are also physically supreme, one of the big advantages that they have over the other nations. They play the game at a high pace and that alone is something that opposition really struggle to live with over the course of 90 minutes.
After a perfect group stage campaign, the USA though did show some vulnerabilities in their round of sixteen tie. Spain turned up and delivered a very good tactical performance against the USA. The Americans did get the win, but only thanks to two penalty kicks which were converted by Megan Rapinoe. The second of those was a really soft one as well. So Spain highlighted some vulnerabilities that the USA may have and it will have given hope to France.
There is no team better equipped in this tournament to stop the Americans than the French. They have great depth, they have had their moment where they have looked rocky as well in this tournament, but have kept finding ways to win. The pace that they have could be key here because they are likely to press and harass the USA more so than any other team can.
France has wonderful power down the flanks and that is something that is going to keep the USA occupied and it means that Americans won’t likely be able to play things the way that they would like to. France aren’t just going to sit back and try to defend their way to the title. They are ambitious and they have quality.
The odds on France Women to beat the USA Women are at 6/5* (betting odds taken from bet365 on June 27th, 2019 at 12:36 pm) and that looks a nice bit of value. If it doesn’t happen here, it’s hard to see the USA being stopped in their title defence.