FIFA Women’s World Cup Update – Knockout Preview
June 21, 2019
It might not have captured the nation’s imagination quite as much as the 2018 FIFA World Cup, but the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup is bringing women’s football into homes across the UK and many have been pleasantly surprised by the standard of play.
The usual criticisms levelled at women’s football are that it’s slow, not nearly as competitive, nor physical, and that there is fair less skill on show than in the male game.
But try telling that to team USA, or England’s Lionesses, for that matter.
Party in the USA?
Reigning champions USA started off as second favourites (behind France) in the Women’s World Cup betting odds, but are now the bookies’ top pick, having scored an incredible 18 goals in their group fixtures, without conceding once.
This particular statistic puts paid to another myth surrounding women’s football – that there are never any clean sheets because the goalkeeping standard is poor.
It is true that USA keeper Alyssa Naeher had very little to do in the first two fixtures against Thailand and Chile respectively. However, she was called into action against Sweden on several occasions and never fluffed her lines.
This is Naeher’s first major tournament as number one and she has the unenviable task of replacing fan-favourite Hope Solo. Besides having a brilliant name, Solo won the Golden Glove in the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup and only conceded three goals throughout the tournament as her team romped to victory.
Time will tell if Naeher can emulate Solo’s individual success and help her team to back-to-back World Cup glory.
USA have won the World Cup three times previously but, this year, it is far from a foregone conclusion.
France, Germany, England and the Netherlands have all taken maximum points from their first three matches and topped their groups.
As such, they are riding high in the Women’s World Cup betting odds, though some have an easier route to the quarter-finals than others, at least on paper.
Let’s take a look at their Women’s World Cup betting odds.
Vive La France?
France made it to the quarter-finals of the 2015 World Cup, but were knocked out on penalties by Germany (we feel their pain!). As the host nation, and with their male counterparts winning the 2018 FIFA World Cup, there is a level of expectation on France to at least make it through to the semi-finals.
So far, they are on track, having dispatched South Korea 4-0 in their opening fixture, and recording narrow wins over Norway and Nigeria. However, they needed the help of VAR against Nigeria to score a penalty, which turned out to be the only goal of the game.
Next up it’s Brazil, and France are heavy favourites to spoil the carnival.
As Canarinhas best chance at an upset is likely to come from top scorer Marta, who has netted at least one goal in each of the group fixtures, including the match winner against Italy.
Germany got the job done 1-0 wins over China and Spain respectively in their first two group fixtures, then demolished South Africa 4-0 to cruise into the knockout stages.
Only Nigeria stand in the way of Die Nationalelf reaching the quarter-finals, which have helped up their outright odds for winning the tournament overall.
Then there’s the fact that they are eight times European Champions, twice World Cup champions, and have made it to the semi-finals all but twice since the first FIFA Women’s World Cup was held in 1991.
On a related note, the German Women’s World Cup advert is a ballsy work of marketing genius.
England ‘Not Impressed By A Semi’
Germany aren’t the only team to embrace the power of controversial marketing. Billboards of the England Women’s players were emblazoned with the provocative slogan ‘Not Impressed By A Semi’ – a clear dig at their male counterparts’ performance in the 2018 World Cup.
But with many comparing manager Phil Neville unfavourably to Gareth Southgate and less-than-stellar performances in their group games, the lionesses have their work cut out if they hope to emulate, let alone better Southgate’s success.
Despite clean sheets against Argentina and Japan, England haven’t looked entirely convincing and will need to up their game significantly if they want to compete against the likes of the USA, France and Germany….
Still, with only Cameroon in the way of a place in the quarter-finals, the lionesses should comfortably progress.
Rounding out the top five in the Women’s World Cup betting, it’s the Netherlands.
The Oranje had no trouble against New Zealand or Cameroon, but had to work a lot harder to get past Canada in their third group fixture. A 75th minute goal from Lineth Beerensteyn proved to be the difference, allowing the Netherlands to finish top of Group E on maximum points.
They’ll now face Japan in the round of sixteen and are expected to get through, could Japan be a potential banana skin for the Oranje?
Best of the Rest
If you fancy a punt on an outsider, you could do a lot worse than backing Canada.
Along with Australia, they sit just outside the top five in the Women’s World Cup betting and gave the Netherlands a real game in their last fixture. Getting past Sweden won’t be a walk in the park, but we think the Canadians have enough in their locker to beat them.
Australia and Italy also offer fairly decent value, with games against Norway and China on the horizon.
Now that we’re into the knockout stages, the action should really heat up.
We’re unlikely to witness another 13-0 annihilation, but we can look forward to some better-balanced games, which should raise the overall standard and the level of excitement.
We’re right behind our lionesses, no question, but can they bring it home?
Find all your 2019 Women’s World Cup betting odds here
A Boro fan from birth, Elle is a qualified sports journalist and the former editor of the now-defunct sports site ComeOnBoro.com and Sporting Preview. Her work and strong opinions have been published in The News of the World, The Observer and BBC Tees Radio. After work in PR, Elle returned to her roots as a copywriter as a Content and SEO Editor at ActiveWin Media.