Soccer

Women's World Cup Betting: England Set to Dominate in Its Saturday Opener

Nicholas Vazquez
Nicholas Vazquez@nickvaz

We'll get a look at three new teams on Saturday, including England, the reigning European Champions. Japan will also be in action, and they are the last team to win the tournament before the USA nabbed back-to-back trophies.

Here is Saturday's slate, with the World Cup odds provided by FanDuel Sportsbook:

Time (Eastern)
Home
Draw
Away
3:00 AMZambia (+850)+650Japan (-440)
5:30 AMEngland (-7000)+6500Haiti (+10000)
8:00 AMDenmark (-185)+300China (+485)

Zambia vs. Japan

The expanded field from 24 teams to 32 teams provides different nations with the chance to qualify for the first time. Zambia is one of those teams, and they will face tournament-regular Japan in this one.

Zambia is actually the lowest-ranked team in the field, per FIFA's rankings, sitting as the 77th-best team in the world. Heading into the tournament, they've been in decent form, though, including a recent win against Germany -- one of the contenders to win it all -- on July 7th.

Most of the Zambian women play in their home country, with a few exceptions. One of those exceptions is Barbra Banda, who won the 2020 Golden Boot in the Chinese Super League. She also was the leading scorer in the 2022 Council of South African Football Associations Women's Cup. She scored twice in said win over Germany, proving she is difficult for any defense to deal with.

Japan won the tournament on home soil in 2011 and reached the final in 2015. The team hasn't quite been the same level of threat since then. They were eliminated in the first knockout round in 2019 and are currently ranked only 11th by FIFA.

They do come into the tournament having won three of their last four matches. Saki Kumagai is the captain and has played for two of the biggest teams in the world -- Olympique Lyon and Bayern Munich. She scored the winning penalty for Japan in 2011 as a young player and now leads the team from her role as a center-back.

Despite the lowly FIFA ranking, Zambia is getting some respect from oddsmakers and is not nearly as big of an underdog as some other teams in this tournament. They may not win Saturday, but a bet to consider is Banda to score a goal at +165. She netted back-to-back hat tricks in the Olympics despite her team failing to win, so she is certainly capable of scoring against tough opponents.

England vs. Haiti

We'll see some big mismatches in the group stage, and this fixture is definitely one of those.

England won the 2022 UEFA European Championship on home soil last summer. After reaching the semifinal of the 2019 World Cup, they've established themselves as one of the best teams in the world. FIFA has them ranked fourth.

This isn't the same squad that won the Euros last year. Ellen White started as a striker in all six games in that tournament and has since retired. They have a few different options to replace her, and the route it seems like they're going to take is to switch Rachel Daly from left-back to forward.

Daly plays forward for Aston Villa and excelled at it this past season. She won the Golden Boot as the top scorer in the Women's Super League and tied a record for most goals in a season with 22. She is a Golden Boot threat in this event, entering the tourney as the third favorite (+1100) to be the top scorer. She's a match-best -220 to score in this game.

Another key England player from the European Championship team who will be missing is Beth Mead, who suffered an ACL tear in November. Mead won the Golden Boot and the Player of the Tournament award at the Euros and will be a big loss. Chloe Kelly is a candidate to replace her as a right-sided forward, as Kelly did well when coming off the bench in the previous tournament.

Lucy Bronze is a key cog as the most experienced player on the team. She'll slot in at right-back, and her 105 international appearances will come in handy -- especially considering that captain Leah Williamson will miss the tournament through injury.

Haiti is another team that will be making their debut in a World Cup. They were able to win an inter-confederation playoff against Senegal and Chile earlier this year, with a 98th-minute goal in the final against Chile sending them to this tournament.

That goal was scored by Melchie Dumornay, a bright young star for the team. At just 19 years old, she's impressed while playing in France. She won the Division 1 Feminine Player of the Month in December 2022, and that earned her a move to Lyon, one of the most successful teams in Europe.

Overall, the odds reflect that this should be a cakewalk for England. Laying -7000 isn't exactly appealing, so we should look for some other wagers to make. A Same-Game Parlay of Rachel Daly to score two or more goals and a goal to be scored in both halves is +221, and that seems like a more intriguing option than taking England on the moneyline.

Denmark vs. China

This is definitely the closest match -- on paper -- that we have on Saturday.

Denmark has not traditionally been a powerhouse in the women's game. They have just two quarterfinal appearances in their World Cup history, with the last one being way back in 1995. But they can make some noise this year and enter this tournament ranked 13th in the world, having stormed through their qualifying group with ease.

The Danes won all eight of their qualifying matches (two being by default over Russia) and got credit for 40 goals while conceding just 2. They were led by Signe Bruun, who scored 12 goals in qualifying. She's definitely a player to watch, having played for the likes of Paris St-Germain, Lyon and Manchester United in her club career.

China comes in just one spot below Denmark in the FIFA rankings. They are in much worse form, however, with their only two wins across their last 10 games being against a Russian team that hasn't been playing many competitive matches lately. Despite the close FIFA ranking, China is a fairly sizable underdog on the moneyline.

Just before the tournament got underway, China lost 3-0 to Brazil and drew 2-2 with Colombia. Those results are fairly concerning, especially against a Colombia team that is 11 spots below them in the rankings.

Another interesting aspect for China is its personnel. They only have one player who plays for an elite European team -- right-back Lei Mengwen, who suits up for PSG. The majority of the team plays in the Chinese Super League, specifically Wuhan Jianghan University.

Wuhan Jianghan University has won the Super League three years in a row. In theory, this means that a lot of their team has had the chance to build chemistry for years, which could be an advantage. What also comes into question is the level of competition they face in that league, which probably isn't as tough as what the top clubs in Europe play against.

With England very likely to go through from this group and Haiti very unlikely to advance, this match could go a long way toward determining whether it is Denmark or China that moves on alongside England. Because of that, both teams could be cautious on Saturday. Under 2.5 goals is currently -108 on FanDuel Sportsbook, and that may be the best way to bet the match.


The above author is a FanDuel employee and is not eligible to compete in public daily fantasy contests or place sports betting wagers on FanDuel. The advice provided by the author does not necessarily represent the views of FanDuel. Taking the author's advice will not guarantee a successful outcome. You should use your own judgment when participating in daily fantasy contests or placing sports wagers.