Women’s World Cup Dark Horses
WOMEN’S WORLD CUP DARK HORSES – As the Women’s World Cup approaches, now’s the ideal time for soccer bettors to look at who they might back for a futures bet to win the tournament. And if you’re like most women’s soccer observers, your first instinct is probably to look at the two-time defending champion United States.
It’s a good idea, as the Americans have dominated women’s soccer since the first tournament in 1991 and have never failed to reach the World Cup semifinals. But there are three problems here. First, at +250, there’s not great value on the USWNT as a futures bet. Those odds will likely only get worse as more people get behind the women to claim the title.
Second, no team, men or women, has ever won three consecutive World Cups. Germany had the best chance after winning 2003 and 2007 and hosting 2011, but Die Frauenteam fell in the quarterfinals that year to surprise champion Japan.
Finally, several U.S. women’s stars are coming to the end of their run. Alex Morgan’s likely playing in her last World Cup and Megan Rapinoe definitely is. The Americans still have plenty of talent and can absolutely win another World Cup, but they should be considered one of a few possibilities, not a runaway favorite.
These teams should also be in the mix for the title, and throwing a few dollars on one of them could pay off nicely.
The Lionesses just won Euro 2022, and they’re coming in loaded. With Lucy Bronze at the back and quality scorers in Georgia Stanway and Chloe Kelly, England has replaced Germany and France as the dominant force in European women’s soccer over the past few seasons.
There’s one big concern here, and that’s the fact that England has to go without top scorer Beth Mead, who tore her ACL last year and didn’t recover in time to make the English squad.
But even without her, England has continued to win. The Lionesses beat the U.S. 2-1 in October at Wembley, and their unbeaten streak reached 30 matches before falling to Australia in April. They can’t meet the U.S. before the final, which only helps their chances.
Spain’s time is coming and coming soon. The Americans know all about how good La Roja are, as Spain very nearly ended the USWNT’s World Cup hopes in the Round of 16 in 2019 (and probably would have without a questionable penalty). In its past two major tournaments, it’s taken the eventual champion to knock out Spain.
Alexia Putellas has won the Ballon d’Or as women’s soccer’s best player two years running, and she and Aitana Bonmati boss the midfield against anyone Spain comes up against. Up top, Jennifer Hermoso remains a lethal threat as both Spain’s all-time leading scorer and one of the tallest players in the tournament.
As with England, Spain also bested the U.S. in a friendly in October. Unlike England, Spain would have to get by the United States in either the semifinals or quarterfinals, depending on group stage performances.
The hosts are always a threat in any major tournament, and this will be no exception. The Matildas looked like they could be cannon fodder last year when they dropped a 7-0 loss to Spain, but that was played without Sam Kerr.
She’s back on the pitch now, and with her available, Australia can play with anyone. Kerr came into her own when she put home five goals at the 2019 World Cup, and she’ll likely be psyched to play in front of the Aussie fans.
Since her return, Australia has bested both Spain and England, the latter of which could be critical depending on the group stage. Australia should have no problem advancing from Group B, but a tricky fixture with Canada could decide how far the Matildas can go.
Top the group, and Australia should avoid England until the semifinals; finish second and they’ll probably see the Lionesses in the Round of 16.
Playing in a weak group has its advantages.
Brazil has a tough assignment in trying to beat France in Group F, but the other two matches should be very manageable for the Selecao. Panama and Jamaica aren’t exactly threatening sides, which should give the young Brazilians time to figure out their lineup and take a shot at this run.
They’ll likely have to do it the hard way unless they can finish ahead of France, but they have the talent in place to scare a few teams. They’re going to be dangerous in 2027, and they just might make a couple big teams nervous this time around.
This one’s definitely a roulette chip, as Norway arrives in horrid form with just two wins in its past nine matches. But the Grasshoppers drew by far the weakest group in getting paired with co-host New Zealand, plus Switzerland and the Philippines.
They’ve got a pair of top scorers in Caroline Hansen and Ada Hegerberg, and if Norway can handle its group, it can avoid the top sides in the tournament until the quarterfinals. For a team with 40-to-1 odds, you could do a lot worse.