To my estimation there is only 1 group of individuals in the world who are happy about the FIFA Women’s World Cup, CONCACAF Gold Cup and CONMEBOL Copa América all coming to a conclusion on the same day.
The media isn’t happy. It was stunningly tone deaf for the North American and South American federations to schedule men’s finals at the same time as a mega-important women’s final, and CONCACAF chief Victor Montagliani’s attempted scapegoating of his clerical staff has made him a laughingstock in headlines from Boston to Bratislava.
State-side supporters aren’t very pleased, of course. And don’t ask the athletes if they’re thrilled – especially the USWNT.
Yankee midfielder Megan Rapinoe’s most fiery World Cup quotes have been political, but she saved a little venom for the Gold Cup and Copa América.
It’s obviously, embarrassingly true that no men’s World Cup would ever be dishonored with so much as an exhibition club match taking place elsewhere during the medal round. For the entire Western Hemisphere to compete with the WWC using its 2 most-prestigious championships is more than just stupid and chauvinist.
It’s bad business. Ever heard of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, guys? Part of the reason you have heard of them is because the bands were careful not to release new records at the exact same time.
But as oversaturated and over-analyzed as The Beautiful Game is likely to be by the end of Sunday’s 3 consecutive finals, I can think of at least a subset of sports enthusiasts who aren’t too upset about the scheduling.
It’s the gamblers.
Heck, 3 big events in 1 day? That’s kid stuff for an experienced ‘capper.
We’re used to wagering on a Premier League schedule that features Richarlison in the morning, Allison in the afternoon, and finally Robitussin at night once we’re losing our voices from screaming at the matches.
Then we get up the next day and speculate on the NFL…from 11 AM to sundown and beyond.
For supporters, promoters and pundits, Sunday’s trifecta of gold medal fixtures is a nuisance. For bettors, it’s an opportunity to go for the gusto with 3 straight won wagers – or at least a winning 2-1 mark that ticks your stake upward by the end of a star-studded soccer marathon on TV.
Scroll to find the best betting markets for each kickoff.
Women’s World Cup Final: USWNT vs Netherlands
It’s been a successful World Cup for the Stars & Stripes so far, but not an easy ride by any stretch of the imagination. Skipper Jill Ellis’ unbeaten side ran into trouble as early as the Round-of-16, needing a pair of Rapinoe penalty tallies to get past Spain in a grudging physical war.
Then came the quarterfinals – and a match against the host French squad that also resulted in drama…and a close-shave win.
A fierce rivalry match-up with England awaited Alex Morgan and the Americans in the semifinals. English women’s coach Phil Neville is an expert at distracting his opponents, and it was Morgan’s poise and determination that helped see the Yanks through to a 2-1 win in a fixture where possession favored Three Lionesses 58% to 42%.
Of course, with July 4th right around the corner, Morgan couldn’t resist rubbing it in with her own version of the Boston Tea Party.
Alex Morgan trolling England by sipping tea is LEGENDARY 😭🐐pic.twitter.com/BzIBNx0xzu
— Complex Sports (@ComplexSports) July 2, 2019
Whoever thinks that the United States is simply waltzing through the Women’s World Cup hasn’t been paying attention. For instance, the aging veteran Rapinoe sat out of the semifinal, leading journos to claim that the Yanks are playing a “B-team” and still prevailing. As if older players in men’s tournaments are expected to play 90+ minutes on the pitch in every elimination match.
Not only is Ellis’ careful strategy being overlooked (unlike Coach K’s exploits with stacked USA rosters in FIBA and the Olympic Games) but the stat lines from France are being ignored altogether. Division-killing teams don’t possess the ball for 42% of a semifinal, as the USWNT did against England. Sunday’s gold medal bid may be a supreme test.
Don’t sleep on Vivianne Miedema, the forward who has scored over 50 goals for the Netherlands National Women’s Team. Miedema scored a pair of historic tallies to help defeat a pesky Cameroon side on Matchday 2 of WWC ’19.
With any luck, the 4-3-3 formations of the 2 squads will match each other on Sunday. Miedema is unlikely to find a simple gap in the American formation to run and collect a long ball. Netherlands will have to play carefully and cautiously out from the back.
The Dutch have improved their defending as the tournament wears on. Dominique Bloodworth, who also scored in the fixture against Cameroon, is proving her mettle as a 24-year-old center back. Ultimately, though, the underdogs cannot win (or cover ATS) without a fantastic effort from goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal.
Sunday’s final in Lyon kicks off in the late morning hours in North America. I’m interested in the Under (2.5) which is currently a (+100) payoff market at Bovada. But I can’t skip a 7-to-1 line on an upset win in a World Cup which is much more hotly-contested than the press would have us believe.
Pick: Netherlands (+700)
Copa América Final: Brazil vs Peru
Lionel Messi and the now-eliminated Argentines are up-in-arms about the refereeing of an 0-2 loss to Brazil in the CONMEBOL semifinals.
But to be perfectly fair, the Green & Yellow scored once in the 1st half and again in the 2nd half, only allowed 2 on-target shots, and fouled 7 less times than Argentina. It stretches credulity to think La Albiceleste was a few favorable calls away from winning.
There’s legendary talent everywhere you look on the host lineup – even without a scandal-plagued Neymar. Allison manned the posts against Messi’s squad while the up-and-coming forward Everton started the match alongside Jesus, Firmino and Coutinho, as if to remind everyone how much Premier League talent is dotting the pitch.
PSG right-back Dani Alves took a yellow card (whistles!) in Tuesday’s rivalry/elimination fixture, but his unit is playing leaps and bounds better than recent incarnations of the Seleção backline.
It’s not a surprise that Peru is a 10-to-1 underdog on the MyBookie moneyline for Sunday afternoon’s final. Remember that football “ML underdog” lines are different from American football lines because there’s a “Draw” option taking some juice away.
In this case, the sportsbook’s line on a stalemate in extra time is (+361), leaving (-370) for Brazil’s market.
After all, Brazil clobbered the Peruvians 5-0 on Matchday 3.
I made my biggest whiff on any recent medal round when I predicted that the goal total would go “Over” in the elimination match between Peru and Uruguay. Instead a funny thing happened – the match went to penalties with Peru advancing, and intense keeper Pedro Gallese posted another clean sheet against the Chileans in the semifinals.
Meanwhile, the Incas’ attack came alive with 3 goals, talented Mexican club footballer Yoshimar Yotún giving the upstarts a commanding 2-0 lead late in the 1st half.
This might be the play-by-play call of the year, btw – in any language.
If at first you don’t succeed, predict the goal total again. With the O/U line settled at a nice cozy low number, I’m liking a potentially-dominant Brazil side and a dangerous Peruvian counterattack to produce at least 3 goals in Rio.
Pick: Over (2.5)
Gold Cup Final: USA vs Mexico
At least the CONCACAF final and the World Cup final – the 2 matches in which Stars & Stripes could be golden by day’s end – are far-enough apart to give patriotic supporters (if not gambling junkies) a bit of a breather. From the POV of TV watchers in New York, Yankee teams could begin the day winning World Cup gold and end it by defending the North American title.
The United States Men’s National Team has begun to play a more solid, secure style of football compared to its past incarnations. It helps when you’ve got attackers who can produce scoring chances and on-target shots by themselves and not with the help of numbers forward.
But until recently, the USMNT could defend and produce counter-chances all it wanted – there were simply no elite forwards to finish. The United States still plays with a striker from the MLS – Jose Altidore – and features no Grade-A overseas club material among the lineup of forwards.
No matter – an exceptional young midfielder named Christian Pulisic, whom you just might have heard of by now, is doing more than improve the squad’s defending and passing in the middle of the formation. He’s making teammates better, causing a pedestrian batch of USA attackers to look as graceful as Les Bleus while beating-up on CONCACAF keepers.
El Tricolor is favored to win the prime-time match at Soldier Field after mostly sailing through a round-robin bid that included an impressive 3-1 win over Canada. But a 1-1 quarterfinal draw and penalties against Costa Rica ratcheted tensions, and the Mexicans needed a Raúl Jiménez penalty kick in the 93rd minute to dismiss Haiti in the semis.
Those low-scoring results are part of why the O/U is hovering just above 2 total goals for the fixture in the Windy City.
Another factor is a missing puzzle piece – Chucky Lozano is injured and unlikely to play. Gamblers are thinking that keeper Guillermo Ochoa and up-and-coming Yankee counterpart Zack Steffen will keep all but 2-or-less shot attempts out of the net in the Gold Cup final.
I’ve got other ideas. Mexico can score on Steffen, or more accurately, produce unstoppable shots on-target against the USA backline. Pulisic and Altidore will most likely be leading a comeback effort in the 2nd half – and a new-look USMNT could actually pull it off.
Those leftover bottle-rocket booms and municipal displays aren’t likely to be the only fireworks in Chicago on Sunday night.
Pick: Over (2, 2.5)
Kurt has authored close to 1000 stories covering football, soccer, basketball, baseball, ice hockey, prize-fighting and the Olympic Games. Kurt posted a 61% win rate on 200+ college and NFL gridiron picks last season. He muses about High School football on social media as The Gridiron Geek.