USA vs. Japan Women's World Cup Final Odds and Predictions
by Trevor Whenham - 7/16/2011
Americans do love to back a winner. Early in the Women’s World Cup the story was that no one in North America even remotely cared about the tournament. After a huge win over Brazil, though, the France game drew a huge audience, and the buzz around Sunday’s final is dizzying.
On the surface this matchup is potentially as lopsided as the buzz is intense. The Americans were the top-ranked team heading into the tournament, and while Germany and Brazil were favored there is no one who can be truly surprised that Abby Wambach and company are still standing.
The Japanese, on the other hand, are the ultimate underdog story. They had no international success to speak of, they didn’t win their group because they were beaten up by England, and they had to face the home team in the quarterfinals. They are here, though, and they have absolutely nothing to lose.
How They Got Here
Japan - New Zealand certainly wasn’t a real contender at this tournament, but Japan had a very hard time beating them in the round robin. It seemed at the time that that was a clear sign of the struggles of this team, and their loss to England confirmed that. But then the Japanese pulled off perhaps the biggest upset in the history of this entire tournament. Japan played the Germans to a scoreless draw through regulation time and the first extra period, and then a substitute scored in the second extra period to seal the upset. It was a virtually impossible result. In the semifinals Sweden got out to a very fast start, but the Japanese kept their cool, evened it up, dominated possession and won reasonably easily. The playoff performance of this squad has been clear proof that that they believe in themselves, they are working on the same page, and it is not easy to rattle them even when they are outmatched.
USA - By now the win over the Brazilians has been discussed and dissected from every angle, so we won’t spend too much time on it. The France game is probably more interesting from a betting perspective, anyway. The 3-1 score was a sign that the Americans won easily, but it wasn’t nearly as one-sided as it seemed. The same concerns that this team raised early in the tournament and in their prep games appeared for much of this game. The Americans had a major advantage in talent, but they looked disinterested and disoriented, and they allowed the French to dominate the possession and to have more chances than they should have. It wasn’t until they got their act together late in the game that they were able to score two goals to open the gap. The Americans have the bad habit of cruising when they are confident they are the better team. Germany tried that approach against Japan and we saw how that turned out, so the Americans could get themselves in trouble if they aren’t focused from the start.
Head-to-head - We have a rare situation in international soccer here - these teams have already met three times this year. Not surprisingly, the U.S. has come out on top all three times - 2-0 twice, and 2-1 the third time. In 25 all time meetings the Americans have 22 wins and three draws. The U.S. will have the confidence of past success to ride on here. They also have their record of success in their final game of the World Cup - they have won the final twice and the third place game three times in the five tournament history of the event.
USA vs. Japan Women’s World Cup Final Odds - The Americans have, not surprisingly, been installed as the solid favorites. 5Dimes has them at -175 to win the game, with Japan far behind at +155. If that price for the U.S. doesn’t suit you then betting them to win in regulation time might - they are at -0.5 +111, while Japan is at +0.5 -126. The regulation draw is at +244. The total has been set at 2.5 with the under a solid -143 favorite and the over at +128.
USA vs. Japan Women’s World Cup Final Predictions- I respect Japan a whole lot, and the Americans continue to make me uneasy. Still, I just can’t justify not taking the favorites. The U.S. has the best goalie on the planet, and captain Abby Wambach is extremely hot right now. They have so much more talent and depth than the Japanese, and so much more international experience. If they can’t get motivated from the start for this one then they are beyond hope, so I have to have faith in their ability to be ready and fired up. If they come out with guns blazing then the Japanese will be in trouble. I will be talking the U.S. to win in regulation. The total doesn’t do anything for me, though I lean to the over because of the price. and the way these teams have been performing offensively.
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