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Women’s World Cup 2023 betting preview

Women’s World Cup 2023 betting preview

Hot on the heels of the first men’s winter World Cup, we have the expanded 32-team, 64-game women’s World Cup to be played in Australia and New Zealand from July 20 to August 20. Mark Taylor delves into the data and the betting markets to analyse the tournament landscape.

Co-host New Zealand will open the proceedings, taking on the likely favourites to win the game, Norway (-346) 1.289, in Auckland. Three hours later, Australia will make their tournament debut against heavy match outsiders, the Republic of Ireland (+694) 7.940, in Sydney.

Women’s World Cup: A brief history of the tournament

Game times have been made as friendly as possible for local audiences to follow in their respective countries, but overall, American viewers will be watching late into the night and early morning, while British and Irish fans will get to enjoy breakfast with their chosen sport.

Both ticket sales and TV coverage will outstrip any previous incarnations of the competition. It began as a modest 12-team event in 1991, but has since grown at a remarkable pace.

It took 19 tournaments and 68 years for the men’s tournament to become a 32-team contest, but the women’s version is comfortable enough to make that commitment after just nine tournaments and in under half the timescale.

There may be some growing pains, particularly in the seeded group matches, where minnows will find themselves heavily outgunned against seasoned professionals of the world stage. However, this also allows exposure to a global audience for emerging nations, and for betting opportunities in less common markets, such as Total Goals, Handicaps and long-term Top Goal Scorer options.

The U.S. Women’s National Team’s (USWNT) Alex Morgan won the 2019 Silver Boot on the back of five goals in the opening group game’s 13-0 decisive victory over Thailand. She lost the Golden Boot to teammate Megan Rapinoe, who tied with Morgan for goals and assists, but played 62 fewer minutes.

Women’s World Cup 2023: The currency of goals

The eight World Cup newcomers are Haiti, Morocco, Panama, the Philippines, Portugal, the Republic of Ireland, Zambia, and Vietnam. Looking at the readily available FIFA rankings, Elo ratings, or simply results spread over the last couple of seasons, it’s easy to see the enormity of the task ahead of them.

The United States currently top the FIFA world rankings with 2,090 points, while Zambia are ranked 76 places lower with 1,298 points.

With the more useful statistic of goals scored, we can use the interlocking relationships between every game played by all 32 finalists since the previous World Cup in 2019 to calculate the margin of victory were each side to play an average opponent at a neutral venue.

In this case, the United States would beat an average opponent by a mean of 2.13 goals, whereas Zambia would lose by an average margin of 2.97 goals.

The format of the competition will follow the familiar pattern seen in the men’s World Cup’s since 1998, with eight groups of four teams playing each other once in a round robin format, and the top two in each group progressing to a pre-determined, seeded round of 16. The final will be preceded by a game played by the third and fourth-placed teams.

Therefore, simulating the competition, the use of your preferred numerical data to estimate the win/draw/loss probabilities of each of the 64 games can easily be transferred to the methodologies and templates employed for the men’s World Cup in 2022.

Women’s World Cup 2023: Squad analysis and tournament expectations

Full and final squads are yet to be announced for most countries, although England revealed their 23-player roster at the end of May. However, injuries and internal disputes may yet have a role to play in the players available to each coach.

England’s player of the tournament at the Women’s EURO 2022, Beth Mead, failed to make the World Cup following an ACL injury, sustained whilst playing for Arsenal. Likewise, Mallory Swanson is also a likely absentee for USWNT following a recent knee injury.

Player power has ousted long-term French coach, Corinne Diacre, while in Spain over a dozen players are refusing to play for coach Jorge Vilda, although the depleted team continue to find success.

Provisional squads are beginning to appear, but it won’t be until the early days of July before final rosters will be complete.

However, it’s not too early to get a broad overview of the likely competitive shape of Australia/New Zealand 2023. We’ve simulated the whole tournament thousands of times, using results-based ratings to estimate the obstacles a side will have to overcome to arrive at the final at Stadium Australia in Sydney on August 20.

There’s clear tiering in the group stages, and unsurprisingly, each of the top sides will be prohibitively short-priced to advance or top their groups. Similarly, 10 of the lowest-ranked sides are nearly 90% likely to fail to progress to the knockout stage.

It’s only in the mid-tiered teams, such as co-hosts New Zealand, Denmark, China PR, and Switzerland, where more palatable and backable prices may emerge for a side to finish in the top two for their group.

Once the first knockout game kicks off on August 5, we’ll be treated to more competitive, “winner takes all” soccer, rather than the current 1.03 odds for the United States to beat Vietnam in their opening group fixture, for example.

Potential round of 16 pairings includes France against Germany, co-hosts Australia against England (the latter lost their 30-game unbeaten streak to the former in April’s friendly), and a closely-matched Japan vs. Norway. We may also see the Netherlands vs. Sweden, and tournament favourites the United States possibly facing the third-ranked FIFA team, Sweden later in the tournament too.

Women’s World Cup 2023: outright betting market

The outright market is dominated by the traditional powerhouses of women’s international soccer, and around 20 sides can comfortably be disregarded as candidates to lift the trophy.

England and the United States have been kept apart in the knockout bracket, ensuring that if they do meet, it will be in either the final or the 3rd/4th paced playoff and currently there’s around a 9% chance that showdown will take place on the final day of the tournament.

There’s a host of familiar names returning from 2019. Marta for Brazil, the afore-mentioned Rapinoe and Morgan, Spain’s Alexia Putellas, Australia’s Sam Kerr, France’s Wendie Renard and the bulk of England’s Euro winning team.

Also, young emerging talents, such as Sophia Smith (USA), Lauren Hemp (England) and Racheal Kundananji for rank outsiders, Zambia.

The top end of the market has been well priced, but Netherlands offers a small amount of value to outrun their current Pinnacle odds of 26.000, although they are likely to encounter the USA, at the semi-final stage in the top half of the draw.

The bottom half of the draw is also rife will likely underpriced dangers in the knockout stage. Notably, European powerhouses from England, France and Germany, but the Lionesses, currently priced at 5.350 are tantalizingly close to providing a value wager, especially with their tactical flexibility and excellent coaching.

*Odds subject to change

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Mark Taylor
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