As a few sympathetic Team USA bloggers (only a few) have pointed out, the USWNT did not get outplayed by any team in the 2023 Women’s World Cup, including Sweden. Tre-Kronor needed a bobbled save and a VAR review of fine centimeters for Sweden to sneak past the USWNT on a 0-0 tiebreaker.
Yet the Stars & Stripes’ lasting images of Oceania won’t be the defense that allowed less than 5 on-target shots in the event. Those optics will center around a past era’s superstar attack growing old, tired, and inaccurate, such as when Megan Rapinoe’s final penalty kick attempt lollied far over the net and into the Melbourne crowd. USA strikers scored 4 times in 4 matches, and only once in the final 3 matches.
United States women’s manager Vladko Andonovski is now probable to be sacked before his plane from Oceania crosses into the Western Hemisphere. At some point, a new head coach and a different crop of young footballers will spur optimistic betting “rushes” in Las Vegas.
Nonetheless, WagerBop users can also expect skeptical futures gambling prices as the order of the day for international women’s tournaments in 2024-25, until the USWNT proves it can score against the best teams in a semblance of the way it used to.
It’s also worrisome that national teams from more than one rival confederation are rising to challenge Team USA for #1 in FIFA. Team Japan is taking the 2023 Women’s World Cup by storm, and is a favorite to defeat Sweden of UEFA in this week’s quarter-final clashes.
North America is among the nominees to host the 2027 FIFA Women’s World Cup. For the time being, FIFA speculators bent on wagering the Red, White, and Blue must turn to the U.S. men’s team, and the 2024 Copa América. That is, of course, unless you’re ready to stay up late (or wake up early) and to speculate on the 8 matches left in Oceania, which will include a ton of intriguing underdog picks.
Oceania 2023: WWC Quarter-Final Previews, Odds, and Best Bets
Team Spain vs Team Holland (Thursday 8/10)
It’s probably a sports-media maxim (stupid enough to be in Maxim) that the lower-scoring style of a contest, the more that the “Capt. Obvious” idea of a team “scoring first” and getting off to a good start is a cliche from beat reporters, not a viable speculating angle or a game plan for a team. (When will we stop hearing NFL fans yell “pressure the quarterback, dummies!” as if a QB sack or QB “hurry” is a play that a coach can call, as opposed to a hope that the Xs and Os are designed to attain?) Hearing a soccer supporter say that they’d like their club to score first is not a scoop on a strategy, but the expression of an obvious short-term goal … excuse the pun.
But that’s what is kind of trippy about handicapping The Netherlands, a team whose money-line odds could jump from 4-to-1 underdog pregame picks to minus-odds live picks if Spain does not tally the first goal in Thursday’s quarter-final. Holland’s sharp passing game, a football-hogging weapon of simultaneous attack and defense, makes Oranje a better team when playing with a lead than perhaps any squad left alive in Oceania. But if a strong opponent happened to take a 1-2 goal lead, they might simply stand back and let Holland execute several dozen short passes in a row, content not to let Oranje penetrate the zone.
FanDuel’s bright odds on Spain (-125) to beat Holland reflect that very possibility. Speculators saw what happened to South Africa when Banyana Banyana tried to come back yet again vs Holland in the Round of 16. Holland’s tactics also make it extremely crucial for Oranje not to fall behind, lest the team’s compulsive short exchanges turn into a howler for supporters as the clock ticks down with Spain ahead 1-0 or 2-1.
La Roja of Spain bounced back from Round 3’s loss with a commanding 5-1 triumph over Switzerland, a result that boosted Spain’s gold medal futures to shorter than 4-to-1. Bookmakers don’t forecast more than 2 goals scored in the Spain-Holland fixture. That’s all the more reason to think that an early flourish from Spain could put The Netherlands in an untenable position, unable to mint a goal from 400 short taps.
WagerBop’s Pick: Spain (-125)
Team Japan vs Team Sweden (Friday 8/11)
As recently as months ago, any national team that had conquered the USA would be considered a gambling favorite to go on and ascend in a women’s competition. Team Japan, the actual (-150) favorite to beat Tre-Kronor on Friday, is leading the Women’s World Cup in goal scoring. But that doesn’t mean that Sweden couldn’t pull off the improbable, and put up another spectacular clean sheet against Japan after shutting out the United States despite 90+ minutes of opposing pressure.
Sportsbooks have other ideas, but does that make the Swedes a good cheap-market pick? Japan is notably tied with Spain at (+550) odds to win the gold medals, numbers that can “bleed” into inflated ML picks.
Team Sweden can be compared to an NCAA basketball team like Davidson that runs the floor in a 87-71 conference rivalry win, but also understands exactly how to milk the clock and try to win 57-56 if necessary in a championship game. The flexibility of both teams on Friday may be rendered moot if Sweden knuckles down on the back line. New York’s betting odds give respect to Tre-Kronor in the quarter-finals against Team Japan, except of course for the main market that favors Nadeshiko. FanDuel’s generous (+125) odds on an outcome of Over (2.5) is a nod to Sweden’s terrific defending and the great play of 5’11” GK Zećira Mušović, as Japan’s Miyazawa Hinata tops the Women’s World Cup with 5 tallies and an assist.
Strangely enough, the strongest pick to be found at FanDuel Sportsbook is a prop bet that relies on Sweden’s defenders making a game of it against a hot FIFA attack … but not faring perfectly.
WagerBop’s Pick: Japan to Score Exactly 1 First Half Goal (Prop Bet) (+170)
Team France vs Team Australia (Saturday 8/12)
WagerBop thinks that the price on France (-158) to advance is also inflated, considering that Les Bleues had a relatively easy draw against Morocco in the Round of 16 (producing a clean sheet win) while Matildas of Australia had to slug it out against highly ranked UEFA side Denmark (also, impressively, producing a clean sheet victory). France is powering its way to a stat-sheet ledger that rivals Team Japan’s so far, but also enjoyed an easy turn against weak-defending Panama in Round 3 of Group Stage. France’s pair of matches against formidable Jamaica and Brazil spawned mixed results.
It’s the classic case where France looks like a favorite on paper, but that paper will be forgotten when gamers turn on the TV and hear the roar of the Aussie crowd before the kickoff. Matildas have been immaculate since warring with a Nigeria team that’s unlucky not to have made the Q-Finals, whipping Canada 4-0 behind 2 goals from attacker Hayley “You Betcher” Raso. It’s a coin-flip outcome on Saturday.
WagerBop’s Pick: Australia to Advance (+128)
Team England vs Team Colombia (Saturday 8/12)
Saturday morning’s next quarter-final match, which will be watched over late-morning tea in the Royal Palace, is the clearest-cut favorite vs underdog meeting of Oceania’s 3rd from last round of play. Lionesses of Team England are (-200) or 1-to-2 moneyline Q-Final favorites over Powerpuff Girls of Colombia, who are a 3-to-1 underdog pick just to advance.
WagerBop is torn over the England-Colombia pick, since England’s form isn’t the kind of quality you want to be betting against when other, dodgier favorite’s picks are on the table. Lionesses have been among the few FIFA women’s aristocrats who have actually played better than their ranking and not worse in New Zealand and Australia. Lauren James’ red card in the draining knock-out bout against Nigeria takes a great big bite out of the heart of Britain’s lineup. But the 0-0 deadlock and nervy tiebreaker win showed that the high-scoring Brits are capable of advancing through to the WWC Final any which way, a critical trait when ‘dogs are howling.
But the Powerpuff Girls of Colombia have been our darlings from the start of Oceania ’23, and we can’t turn our back on them now. Colombia is characteristic of the best underdog teams of this Women’s World Cup in that the side plays on front foot, and doesn’t try to circle the wagons to win 1-0.
Thankfully, there’s more to an improved 2023 set of women’s soccer odds than money-lines to win or advance. WagerBop recommends an Over (2.5) pick on England-Colombia at generous prices of 1.4-to-1. Our tentative match forecast involves England scoring a go-ahead goal only for the Colombians to “surprise” with a counter and an equalizer, followed by hold-your-breath rushes both ways in a refreshingly wide-open and fun 2nd half.
WagerBop’s Pick: Over (2.5) (+137)
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.