The top teams were largely unchallenged during the group stage of the Women’s World Cup, meaning the odds haven’t shifted away from the favorites as the tournament enters the knockout rounds.
There have been few upsets so far in France, and the top teams have comfortable matchups for the Round of 16 – though there are some tantalizing encounters on the horizon for the quarterfinals.
Perfect Start Marks USA as Team to Beat
The United States and France came into the Women’s World Cup as virtual co-favorites. While they’re still considered the top two teams, it’s the USA that has taken the clear top spot following their dominant performances, particularly the 13-0 thrashing of Thailand. According to William Hill, the Americans are 7/4 to win the tournament, clearly ahead of second choice France (7/2).
The United States ended the round-robin portion of its campaign by beating Sweden 2-0 to win Group F. That earned the USA a relatively comfortable Round of 16 matchup against Spain, though a potential quarterfinal clash with France awaits.
“Spain plays a different style than a lot of women’s teams play,” Megan Rapinoe told said after the win over Sweden. “They’re obviously very good in possession, with more of that tiki-taka style. If you don’t play against that a lot, it’s difficult.”
Meanwhile, Sweden took the loss in stride. Coach Peter Gerhardsson made the decision to sit seven players from his starting lineup, knowing that the Swedes had already clinched advancement and that there was little advantage to finishing first in the group.
“We know that we have another match on Monday, a knockout match, and that’s the match that’s the most important one,” Gerhardsson said after the match. “When we looked at the plan for the match and how to go about it, we didn’t think in advance that it was important to end up first or second in the group.”
While Sweden may have avoided France with the loss, they did get a more difficult Round of 16 opponent, as they will have to face the always dangerous Canada, which finished second in Group E. Both Canada (20/1) and Sweden (25/1) are considered dark horse contenders to win the Women’s World Cup.
World Cup Contenders Enjoy Favorable Matchups
France faces a slightly more difficult first-round matchup than the United States, as it will take on Brazil on Sunday. France will enter the match as a heavy favorite after Brazil finished third in a tightly contested Group C behind Italy and Australia.
Other contenders have fairly easy matches in the first knockout round, at least on paper. Germany will take on Nigeria, while England gets Cameroon, with the two European powerhouses widely expected to deal with their African opponents in those matches. Germany remains the third choice to win the tournament at 13/2, while England is getting 7/1 odds of winning the Women’s World Cup.
If one team has improved its position more than anyone through the group stage, it might be the Netherlands. William Hill now has the Dutch as an 11/1 pick to win the tournament after they went 3-0 to win Group E ahead of Canada. The Netherlands will start their knockout stage journey against Japan in Rennes on Tuesday.
The Women’s World Cup will continue through July 7, when the final is played at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais in Lyon.