Women’s World Cup Prediction: Canada vs Nigeria Women – July 20, 2023
WOMEN’S WORLD CUP PREDICTION: CANADA VS NIGERIA WOMEN – July 20, 2023 — Nigeria’s been an incredible model of consistency in women’s soccer, with the Super Falcons qualifying for every Women’s FIFA World Cup since the event began 32 years ago. That makes them one of just seven nations to never miss the tournament.
Yet, their ability to pick up trophies in African competitions (doing so in 11 out of 14 tries!) hasn’t translated to the world stage. In fact, they’ve negotiated the group stage just twice in eight prior World Cup appearances. That potentially plays into the hands of Canada, who are currently ranked seventh in the world.
Even with the likes of Christine Sinclair and Sophie Schmidt nearing the end of their careers, the Canadians are poised to make a deep run at this tournament. But the pressure’s on early for Canada in these first two matches, with hosts Australia set to challenge them all the way to win Group B.
Canada vs Nigeria Women – Match Preview
- When: Thursday, July 20th at 10:30 a.m. EDT
- Where: Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, Melbourne, Australia
- Spread: Canada -1.5/Nigeria +1.5
With Canada looking to go on a long run in this tournament, taking first place matters greatly in this group. That’s because the winner likely gets a reasonable Round of 16 match with China or Denmark. Meanwhile, the eventual runner up almost certainly has to deal with European champions England in the first knockout stage game.
The main thing the Canadians have to fix is being wasteful with their shots. Canada played two friendlies against Nigeria last year, winning 2-0 and drawing 2-2, and in each game, the margin could have been much greater had the Canadians put away their chances.
The win proved particularly egregious, as Canada took 24 shots, put 14 on frame but only managed two goals. As for the Canadians who can provide the most firepower, the usual candidates prevail. However, with Sinclair now 40 years old, she’s mostly passed the torch to Adriana Leon, who splits her time between Manchester United and the Portland Thorns.
Leon’s finally enjoyed some regular playing time in Portland, and is doing the business at international level too, scoring in friendlies against Brazil and Australia. Admittedly, she’s struggled against tougher competition, but even when somewhat out of form, she should be the best player on the pitch here.
With a pitiful overall record of 4-19-3 in the World Cup finals, Nigeria has a whole lot of hurt. And while one of those four wins was against Canada, that was way back in 2011. In addition, the fact that their current three-match winning streak is solely composed of victories over group stage elimination fodder (Costa Rica, Haiti and New Zealand) contributes very little to their hopes of an early upset in Melbourne.
From an attacking perspective, much will depend on whether or not Esther Okoronkwo hits the ground running. The Saint-Etienne forward has scored four goals in 18 appearances at club level, while also netting in two of Nigeria’s past three matches.
As for Nigeria’s defense, credit should be given where due. The backline has gone up against top sides as of late, holding the United States and Japan to two goals in true road matches last year. In 13 of their past 14 games (the exception being a 4-0 loss to the United States), the Super Falcons have allowed no more than two goals.
Canada v Nigeria Women – Match Bets
Odds subject to change. Visit DraftKings for the latest prices.
Canada and Under 2.5 (+310)
Canada is the better side, but Nigeria’s defense is likely to come out looking to keep the match close. Remember, Canadian winger Leon is out of form and Canada has had problems putting balls in the net. The Canadians should win, but Nigeria will likely make them work for it.
Scoreless First Half (+250)
Canada is a second-half side, and Nigeria tends to play its best defense in the match’s first 45 minutes. Of the Super Falcons’ past 14 matches, only the United States and Colombia were able to slot home a goal against them before the halftime whistle. Out of Canada’s past 15 goals, 10 have come after the break. For these odds, this represents great value on Canada waiting to find the goal it needs until after the break.
Canada vs Nigeria Women – Final Score
Canada is the better side and should win, but it’s not going to be as easy as it looks on paper. Once the ice breaks, Canada should have enough time to find a second marker, but I wouldn’t trust the spread at -110 that they find the second goal. I’d rather cover my bases with a one-goal victory, meaning a win in a match that should be low scoring.
That said, goal difference is the first tiebreaker and goals scored the second. So Canada probably has to go all out against the group’s weakest side to avoid that dreaded date with Group D favorites England. That makes a handicap win, but not a landslide, seem reasonable enough. So my exact score bet for this one is 2-0 Canada, currently priced at +500 by DraftKings.
See also: Dan’s picks for our featured 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup games.