The round-robin portion of the Women's World Cup is in the books, and now we await the elimination rounds. It has been a good tournament so far, and this is where it gets really good. It's also where the betting really gets interesting. Sixteen teams are still alive, and by July 5 there will be just one. But which team will it be? And is there money to be made from betting on them? Let's take a look (odds to win the tournament are from 5Dimes):
Germany (+200): The Germans had a strong run through Group B though not nearly as strong as it should have been. Their 10-0 wins over Ivory Coast, or the 4-0 victory over Thailand were as impressive as expected. It was the game against Norway that was a concern, though. They opened the scoring just six minutes in, but then they seemed to become content. Norway tied it up 55 minutes later, and the Germans had no answer. They wound up with a draw. Germany still won the group thanks to goal differential and hopefully got a wakeup call, but it wasn't what was expected of them. They have a smooth ride to the semifinals - Sweden is tough but beatable, and neither France nor South Korea is likely up to the challenge of matching the Germans at or near their best. That should set up an epic semifinal match with the Americans. The winner of that will be very tough to beat in the finals. With the odds so low for both teams, though, it's not particularly attractive to bet on either one. That means we either look to gamble on an upset or we skip the futures bets and bet on individual games. If Germany had been better against Norway, or had an easier path to the semis, then I would be more enthusiastic in betting them.
U.S. (+280): The Americans have had a similar story to the Germans; two wins and a draw that never should have happened. The difference, though, is that the Germans have scored plenty while the Americans have really struggled on offense. They were scoreless against Sweden and beat Nigeria only 1-0. This team came into the tournament feeling sorry for themselves - like they were personally being wronged because the tournament is being played on artificial turf. They have the most skill in this tournament, but they need to get focused on what matters, shake off the kinks, and do what they are capable of. In Colombia, and then China or Cameroon, they have pretty much the easiest path to the semis that they possibly could. If they were upset it would be historic. But then they face the Germans. The Americans should win that game, but they won't if they can't score and if they are playing as tentatively as they have so far. As with the Germans, this semifinals matchup makes the Americans all but unplayable in the futures market.
France (+700): I respect France, but there is no reason to even consider them with the draw they have. To make the finals they would likely have to get through both Germany and the Americans. It's hard to imagine that happening - and this price certainly isn't fat enough to justify the risk. I'll pass.
Brazil (+1000): The Brazilian women are not the Brazilian men. Not even close right now. They are in a strong position here, though. They avoid the two best teams in the tournament until the finals, and Australia and either Japan or the Netherlands are manageable opponents in the first two rounds. Really, they are the best team in their half of the bracket and are well-positioned to make the finals. They will likely be a massive underdog once they get there, but they only need to win one game at that point. If you were looking to gamble on a long shot instead of the two favorites then this would be the safest place to look.
Canada (+1500): The hosts will have an edge because of the location of the tournament, and they have some talent, so they could be worth a look. I'll admit that I have some bias as a Canadian, but even beyond that this team is worth a look at this price. Switzerland is very beatable in the first game. England and Norway will be tough, but the Canadians can beat either of them if they can get over their biggest issue this tournament - they have been unable to score. They have more offensive potential than they have exhibited, but if they can't find it in a hurry then the tournament will end quickly. They are almost as likely as the Brazilians to make the final, so their comparative price makes them a bargain. This is the team for you long shot seekers.
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