USA vs. France Women's World Cup Odds and Predictions
by Trevor Whenham - 7/12/2011
After one of the most thrilling, controversial and unlikely wins in recent memory, the Americans move on to the semifinals of the Women’s World Cup where they will take on France. The game, which will be played in Germany, kicks off at noon ET on Thursday. Here’s a look at how the game breaks down with some USA vs. France odds and predictions:
How they got here
France - The women’s team in France has not measured up to the performance of the men — they have only qualified for two of the previous six Women’s World Cups. They are putting together a special run here, though. Their round robin play was impressive. They opened with a nice win over Nigeria, and then absolutely crushed Canada in their second game.
Their only setback was a predictable one — they were outmatched by solid tournament favorites Germany. In the quarterfinals they played another upstart team trying to match the success of their men’s squad — England. They fell behind by a goal, but they showed a whole lot of toughness in fighting back to tie it up late in the game before winning it in penalty kicks.
USA - The Americans are the top-ranked team in the world, but heading into this tournament they certainly had not been playing like it. They struggled in their preparatory games, and fell into a funk that carried over into the early stages of this tournament. They won their first two games against North Korea and Colombia, but they looked flat in both cases despite outscoring opponents by a combined 5-0 score.
They had a chance to wrap up first place in the group playing against Sweden, but they looked like they didn’t care. They lost 2-1, but it wasn’t as close as it seemed — the Americans fell behind 2-0 in the first half and were never really a factor.
The quarterfinal game against Brazil was truly crazy. The Americans took an early lead when Brazil scored an own goal, but Brazil tied it up after the Americans earned a red card. Superstar Marta scored early in extra time to take the lead, and it seemed like it was all over. But then Abby Wambach put one in off her head two minutes into injury time to tie it up, and the Americans won in the shootout. Crazy.
Offense - The Americans have a whole lot of depth here. Wambach is the leader, but there are a lot of other players that can score as well. Alex Morgan is a striker that hasn’t scored yet, but she is dangerous and has real potential. The Americans are creative and explosive and will be tough for the French to deal with.
France is no slouch themselves, though. They have outscored opponents 55-13 through the qualification process and this tournament, and when they get confident they can score in bunches. They showed their offensive potential when they managed to score two goals against Germany. The Americans have an edge offensively, but not a big one.
Defense - The defensive story here is the goalkeepers. Hope Solo is the best goalie in the world right now, and the two French keepers are among the better in the field as well. If they French want to win this one, they are going to have to find a way to rattle Solo and get her off her game. Sweden in the first half of their game was the only team that has been able to do that in this tournament, so France really needs to study that tape.
Intangibles - There are a couple of reasons to be concerned about the Americans here. First, they have a strong sense of entitlement, so it is very possible that they won’t be at full intensity because they feel that they are clearly the better team. They are better, but if they aren’t at full throttle France could exploit them. Second, the Americans are coming off an incredibly emotional win, and there is a real chance for a letdown here if they aren’t mentally strong and focused. France could be a dangerous team because they have absolutely nothing to lose at this point and they know it.
USA vs. France World Cup Odds - The Americans have been installed as the clear favorites here. 5Dimes has them at -235 to advance, with France at +195. If you think the Americans will win in regulation time then you can get a much better price -- they are at -0.5, -106, with France at +0.5, -109. WagerWeb has the total set at 2.5 with the ‘over’ at -105 and the ‘under’ at -125.
USA vs. France World Cup Predictions - I respect the French and the Americans make me uneasy, but ultimately you have to assume that teams will play at full capacity, and that means that the more talented team is the one you have to like. That clearly means that the Americans have to be the choice. I would look to take them against the spread. I lean towards the ‘over,’ but not with a whole lot of conviction.
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