Australia and Japan are set to collide in the quarterfinals of the FIFA Women's World Cup. Will the defending champions come through as the favorites or will the Matildas from Down Under serve up yet another surprise?
Australia Playing Above Their Heads
Few soccer bettors had the Matildas going deep into the tournament. Yet, lo and behold, they are on the cusp of the FIFA Women's World Cup quarterfinals, a spot in the semis on the line. However, next up is, arguably, their toughest opponent yet: the defending champions Japan.
Australia entered the competition as one of the longshots to win it all at +5000 soccer odds. Fast forward through the group stage, they improved to +3300 at the start of the knockouts. Now, they are priced as the +2000 soccer pick to win the world finals.
Australia survived the group of death better than many expected they would, emerging in second place in group D with a 1-1-1 mark. They opened their campaign with a 3-1 defeat to USA. Then they beat Nigeria 2-0 before settling on a 1-1 draw to Sweden. Overall, they scored four goals and conceded four goals.
In the knockouts they took on a highly fancied Brazil, fourth favorite overall in the competition at +900 soccer odds to win it all and one of two sides to emerge from group play with a perfect 3-0-0 mark. Predictably, Brazil were the firm faves to win and advance into the quarterfinals. The Matildas, however, didn't get the memo, going on to beat the Brazilians 1-0 and come through on their +375 soccer odds.
If the Matildas are to live another round in the competition, they'll have to do it at the expense of the defending champions Japan. Can they make it to upsets in a row to reach the semis? A win by Australia is matched at +300 soccer odds.
Japan Favored To Advance
Defending champions Japan entered the competition as the third overall favorites to win outright at +800 soccer odds, behind the joint tandem of Germany and USA and the second favorites France. Interestingly, going into the R16 their soccer odds swelled to +1200 to win the title, falling behind Brazil at +900 despite finishing group play with an perfect 3-0-0 mark.
Now, ahead of the quarterfinals, they are matched as the third faves at +550 to win it all, behind Germany at +120 and USA at +200 (both Brazil and France were eliminated). On paper, they have the easier path to the final with Australia in then either Canada or England standing in their way.
Japan beat Switzerland 1-0 in their group opener. Then they topped Cameroon 2-1 and overcame Ecuador 1-0. In total, they scored just four goals in group action but conceded only the one goal. In the knockouts, Japan beat the Netherlands 2-1 to earn a spot in the quarterfinals.
For the most part, the holders campaign has been steady but unspectacular. They've gotten the job done up to this point though. That is all the matters, perhaps. In Australia, they'll face the tournament's Cinderella. The surprise package that has gone further than most expected. The Matildas have nothing to lose and everything to gain and that makes them dangerous opponents, more so than their soccer odds would suggest. Japan may be the -105 favorites, but Australia will fancy their chances as the +300 underdogs, having already punched above their weight class.
Soccer Betting Verdict:
The Matildas became the first Australian football team (men or women) to win a knockout stage match at the world finals. If they accomplish the win over Japan tonight, they'll break new ground again, not to mention gain their country's biggest ever scalp at the world finals. Heady thoughts indeed.
Australia's attacking front is potent, which lends their soccer odds value. However, Japan's defense at these finals has been nigh flawless. That's going to make them tough to beat. Japan defeated Australia 1-0 in their last meeting at the Asian Cup final last year and we expect they'll come through once again with another tough and close win.
Soccer Picks: Japan -105