Such is the homogeneity of the soccer calendar that it is hard to know whether this tournament is ending the 2012 season or starting the 2013 one. In reality, it doesn’t matter because this contest would be a fitting beginning or end to any season, featuring as it does the dozen best women’s teams in Europe. Which one should you consider adding to your soccer picks?
Germany are, without doubt, the team to beat. The reigning champions - and indeed winners of the last five tournaments - are the hot favorites and you’ll struggle to find soccer odds better than the 6/4 that Paddy Power have on offer for them to win. However, struggle is something that the Germans have had to do, as they have been plagued with injuries in the run up to the competition and have six players missing as a result. In addition, they still seem to be having trouble coming to terms with the retirement of Birgit Prinz, one of their leading goal scorers of all time. In short, this definitely looks like a good tournament to bet against them.
Don’t expect too much from the team that they beat in that last final, either. England are another side who have had to deal with injuries to leading players as the tournament approached, not least veteran playmaker Kelly Smith, for so long the lynchpin of their team. They don’t lack for experience - Rachel Yankey recently won her 126th cap, to become the most capped England player of either gender - but there is a lot of youth in there as well. They also have the disadvantage of not being seeded, meaning that they have ended up in the toughest group alongside France, Russia and Spain. BetVictor currently have them at 12/1 and again this might be a good time to back against them.
Hosts Sweden are one of the traditional powerhouses of women’s soccer and they come into the tournament bouyed by having thrashed England 4-1 in their final warm-up game. Coach Pia Sundhage led the USA team to Olympic triumph in 2012 and was voted female coach of the year by FIFA. In Lotte Schelin they have the woman who could be leading scorer in the tournament and they are a huge threat to the likes of Germany here. They are at 9/2 with Betway and certainly good value at that price.
The team to beat, though, are France. They finished fourth in the Olympic Games, field substantially the same side here and are, on their day, arguably the most stylish team in women’s soccer. Gaetane Thiney and Louisa Necib are players with the ability to break down any defense and France have the forwards to exploit any opportunity that they create. They are quoted at 4/1 just about everywhere and that is a price which will only shorten as the tournament goes on.
Picking the top goalscorer for the tournament is difficult. Schelin at 5/1 with William Hill looks a good bet, she already has 50 international goals to her name and plays for a team likely to make it to the final stages. Celia Okoyino da Mbabi of Germany is the favorite at 5/2, but she has lost her strike partner Alexandra Popp to injury and you have to wonder how effective she can be in those circumstances. The sports pick with value here looks to be Marie-Laure Delie of France, who will be the prime beneficiairy of Thiney and Necib’s artistry and who is very keenly priced at 8/1.
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