Defending champions Japan take on England in the semi-finals, a side that has beaten the soccer odds to reach the penultimate round. Can the Three Lionesses spring a surprise? Find out as we preview the match odds and serve up our soccer picks.
Tournament Winner Markets
Despite being the defending champions Japan weren't the favourites to win a second straight world title. That principality initially belonged to the joint tandem of Germany and USA before the latter pulled ahead in World Cup futures betting markets.
Japan began as the third overall favourites, trading at +800 soccer odds before slipping to fifth overall favourites at +1200 briefly, ahead of the knockouts. They are back up to third faves now though at +350 soccer odds, a consequence of advancing into the semis as well as the field trimming down to just four teams.
England, by contrast, entered the tournament as the +2000 soccer pick to win it all, or seventh outright favourite. Curiously, they remained put on +2000 soccer odds all the way through the group stage and early knockout stages. Only once the field trimmed down to the last four did their soccer odds benefit from a desperately needed re-evaluation. Now down to +800 soccer odds, they remain the tourney long shots to win it all. What is becoming clearer with each and every round though is that they've shown a penchant for defying the soccer odds up. That begs the question whether they are being assessed at all correctly in World Cup betting markets.
The Other Semi-final
The clash between Japan and England in the Women's World Cup semi-finals is overshadowed by the powerhouse clash between Germany and USA. Make no mistake, however, this is going to be just as thrilling of a showdown, if not better.
Japan enters the game as the favorites, albeit just above EVEN money at +105 soccer odds (or thereabouts depending on your sportsbook of choice). It's interesting that the Japanese women are being so short-changed in soccer betting markets when they are the only team that is a perfect 5-0-0 in the competition, having not lost a single match to date.
In any event, as the defending champions, this is their game to win or lose, which can be both an advantage and disadvantage. Having the experience is going to help them against England, who prior to the these world finals have not won a knockout stage match. On the flipside, it also amounts to pressure. The expectation is squarely on their shoulders no matter what the soccer odds figure to be.
England have nothing to lose and everything to gain. They've beaten the soccer odds twice already. What's more, the Three Lionesses are after upsetting the hosts Canada in a memorable 2-1 win at the weekend. A game that no sportsbook was giving them a reasonable shot to win at +275 soccer odds or thereabouts.
Soccer Betting Verdict:
Japan may not have blown away any team in the competition, but they've been solid nonetheless. Defensively sound and finishing opportunities when they presented themselves, they are a well-oiled machine that is up for the task of defending their title. That experience and quiet confidence will serve them well in this game and makes them the value soccer pick at +105 soccer odds to win outright.
England have been a revelation in this competition, going farther than any other instalment in previous world finals in the women's game. The win over Canada is going to be a huge confidence boost for the Three Lionesses, which makes them dangerous floaters and a vogue soccer pick to deliver another upset even if their soccer odds are a tough too high at +280 to win outright.
Truth be told, just about everybody is picking Japan on their soccer picks. We're of a mind to do so as well. How could you not, really? They've not put a foot wrong in this competition and have gone about the business of winning unassumingly. There's every indication that they are the smart soccer pick. Still, call us suckers for upsets. We've backed Japan and England throughout the tournament consistently. Now that we're faced with a choice between the pair we are of two minds. Incredibly, leaning towards the Three Lionesses.
Soccer Picks: England +280