Women’s World Cup Prediction: Brazil vs. Panama Women – July 24, 2023
WOMEN’S WORLD CUP PREDICTION: BRAZIL vs PANAMA WOMEN – July 24, 2023 — Can Brazil give its greatest player the same moment that Argentina’s men gave to Lionel Messi last year? That’s the hope in the Brazilian camp, as 37-year-old Marta begins her sixth and surely last World Cup. The brilliant striker has made Brazil’s attack one of the most feared in the world for 20 years now, but she’s never gotten her side to the top step on the podium.
Brazil has come close three times, taking second place in the 2004 and 2008 Olympics and the 2007 World Cup. But since then, the Brazilians haven’t won a match in the knockout stage, falling to the United States, Australia and France at the last three World Cups.
With France also in Group F, Brazil has to do all it can to top this group. If it doesn’t, another Round of 16 exit might be in the offing, because there will likely be Germans involved.
For Panama, being here is victory enough. Long overwhelmed in a confederation that includes the United States and Canada, the Canal Girls finally got their chance with the expansion of the tournament to 32 sides.
They managed to come through the qualifying tournament and snatch one of the last three bids, and their reward is one of the toughest possible groups. Panama’s warm-up matches haven’t been encouraging, and this is a side that tends to play defensive soccer anyway.
Anyone who remembers the United States’ 4-0 loss to Brazil at the 2007 World Cup can tell you how well that strategy works against the Brazilians. If you can’t take the attack to Brazil — and Panama can’t — you’re usually in for a long day.
When: Monday, July 24th at 7 a.m. EDT
Where: Hindmarsh Stadium, Adelaide, Australia
Spread: Brazil -4.5/Panama +4.5
Moneyline: Brazil -10000/Panama +5000/Draw +2000
Totals: Over 5/Under 5
Odds courtesy of DraftKings.
Brazil is in transition, with most of the old guard giving way to the next generation, but Marta’s still here and a player who commands attention. However, she’s no longer the most important player on the pitch, as the likes of Debinha, Geyse and her Orlando Pride teammate Adriana have become more vital to the attack since her ACL tear in 2022.
The Brazilian midfield does a lot of its work in the United States, as Adriana, Kerolin and Ary Borges all compete for NWSL sides and give Brazil a fairly strong midfield that can boss the game against most opponents. The defense needs to tighten up, however, as losses to both Canada and the United States in February exposed a few liabilities in the back line. But in a matchup like this, the defense isn’t going to come into play.
Panama has its eye on the future. This is a side led by a 25-year-old midfielder in Marta Cox, who’s one of the few players that plays in a top-quality league. None of the Panamanian players have made more than 19 appearances for the national side, and none have scored more than Cox’s nine total goals.
In fairness to Panama, that’s in part because it’s tough to gain traction in CONCACAF with little money and the U.S. and Canada sucking up all the oxygen. This side has set itself up well to compete down the road, as Cox, Deysire Salazar and Riley Tanner all have shown plenty of raw potential. Tanner already plays in the NWSL and Salazar might soon follow, which could further encourage the growth of the game in Panama.
But for the time being, this is a side that’s just happy to be here. Their past two matches resulted in a 7-0 loss to Spain and a 5-0 loss to Japan, and this might not go any better.
Brazil -4.5 (+115)
When there’s a talent and experience gap like this, Brazil can really put a team to the sword. With Panama likely to play five defenders, Adriana will have as much room as she wants to look for the right pass and unlock the Canal Girls’ defense. Remember, Brazil has every incentive to pile on the goals.
A huge win here would allow them to play for the draw against France and still come out first in Group F. But if the margin isn’t big enough, Brazil will either have to beat France in its second match or get ready to face the Germans in the Round of 16.
Brazil -2 First Half (+130)
Look back to the Copa America in 2022, and you can see how efficient Brazil can be. The Canaries put home four in the first half against Peru and led every match it played in the tournament, usually by at least two goals. With Marta not having many miles left on her legs, the ideal scenario for Brazil is to bury Panama in the first half and get her off the pitch so she can rest up for France.
Brazil’s a little better than Japan but not quite on the level of Spain. That slots them probably somewhere in between Panama’s two recent opponents, and a result somewhere in-between what they did is probably a fair guess. I’ll back Brazil 6, Panama 0 (+475).