Women's World Cup Betting and Handicapping Tips
by Trevor Whenham - 6/29/2011
The Women’s World Cup is underway in Germany. I might get in trouble from saying this, but unlike a lot of team women’s sporting events this is one that is actually worth watching. It’s also one that is worth betting on -- there is more betting volume and a wider range of odds available than ever before. If you haven’t started betting on the tournament yet but you want to then here is a cheat sheet with some handicapping tips to get you ready for the action:
The format - This is similarly structured to World Cup, but it is a much smaller tournament -- just 16 teams qualify. Those teams are split into four groups of four, with each grouping playing a round-robin schedule. The top two teams from each group advance with the winners of their groups earning the right to play the second-place team in another group. From there they play down to the winner, with a third-place game also played.
The timing - The tournament started June 26. Group play continues until July 6. The quarterfinals are played on the ninth and 10th of July, the semis on the 13th, and the final will take place on July 17.
The setting - The tournament takes place in nine stadiums in Germany. Most of the stadiums were not used for the World Cup in 2006, and six of the nine stadiums have a capacity of less than 30,000. Seven of the nine stadiums are home fields of Bundesliga squads, though the capacity will be smaller than in league games because standing room tickets are not being sold. The biggest stadium is Olympic Stadium in Berlin, which was the site of the World Cup final in 2006. Germany and Canada played their opener there is front of more than 72,000 fans.
The Americans - The U.S. comes into the tournament as the top-ranked team in the world, but that is deceptive. They struggled badly to qualify -- after a shocking upset at the hands of Mexico they had to survive a playoff against Italy. After making the field they lost to both Sweden and England. They have an incredibly deep and talented team -- strong offensive attack, solid defense, and the best goalkeeper in the world -- but they need to be sure they have their heads screwed on correctly if they want to avoid embarrassment. After disappointing third-place finishes in each of the last two events this team can’t afford another misstep.
Germany - The host Germans are the second-ranked team in the world, and are well positioned to come out on top here. Not only do they have the big advantage of playing at home in front of rabid fans, but they rise to the occasion in this tournament -- they have won the last World Cups. They drew a tough group, though -- both France and Canada can be dangerous. One of those hurdles has been passed, as Germany beat Canada, 2-1, in their opener. Germany and the U.S. could meet in a semifinal that will be a classic.
Brazil - The Brazilians aren’t quite the power in the women’s game that they are in the men’s, but they are close. They have one big advantage -- Marta has been named the top player in the world the last five years and is an almost unstoppable force. She has 76 goals in 69 international appearances coming into the tournament. They have plenty of other talent as well. The biggest problem with this team, though, is that they have never come through when it matters most. In the last three major international events -- two Olympics and the World Cup -- they have made the final but lost all three times. They benefited from a relatively easy draw, though, and as long as they win their group they could be well positioned for another run to the final.
Canada - As a Canadian I am very frustrated by what is happening to this team. First, they drew the hardest group in the tournament. Then they dropped their opener to Germany -- a very tough game to win in front of 72,000 hostile fans -- to fall behind the eight ball. Then Christine Sinclair, one of the best players in the world, was injured and is unlikely for the team’s second game. Suddenly an upstart team that had the potential to do some damage is in a very tough spot. The bright spot, at least, is in 2015 it is the Canadians who will be playing in front of enthusiastic home crowds.
England - Despite an opening draw against Mexico, this is a darkhorse squad that is worth watching. They have not been successful internationally in soccer, but it is only in recent years that they have gotten serious about women’s soccer. They have started paying players so they can train and play year round, and a new professional league is doing well and providing strong competition. The top talent in the country is focused on two of those teams in the new league -- Everton Ladies and Arsenal Ladies -- so the players here largely get to play together and are comfortable with each other. It may be one tournament too early for this squad, but England is definitely a team to watch.
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