For practical purposes, the 2019 women’s World Cup starts Thursday for the United States. It faces Sweden, its first competitive opponent, in the final game of group play (FOX, 3 p.m.).
Both the U.S. and Sweden have already qualified for the 16-team knockout bracket. Each swept Thailand and Chile in Group F play, possibly the two worst teams in the full 24-team field.
To even refer to those games as “scrimmages” overstates their competitiveness. Moving beyond the well-publicized one-sided scores…
▪ The U.S. outshot Thailand and Chile 65-3, with a 30-2 edge in shots on goal. It won the “corner kicks” category 25-1. All that with a few stars sitting out vs. Chile.
▪ Sweden outshot Thailand and Chile 59-11, with a 22-4 edge in shots on goal. It won corner kicks 17-0.
Though USA-Sweden will be much more competitive, the Stars and Stripes are still prohibitive favorites by “normal” high-level soccer standards. (All odds courtesy William Hill.)
▪ On the goal line, the U.S. is -1.5 goals, with slight vigorish to back the Americans. You have to lay -120 on the US (risk $120 to win $100 or anything in that ratio) at -1.5 goals. Sweden is even money at +1.5 goals (risk $100 to win $100, etc…).
▪ On the three-way line, the U.S. is -380 to win the game outright (risk $380 to win $100), or 79% in percentage terms. A draw is +475 (risk $100 to win $475), a 17% outcome equivalent. Sweden winning outright is +1050, or 9%. (Reminder: sports books build a universe larger than 100% to create a house edge.)
So, the first “competitive” game for Alex Morgan and company is still one they’re expected to win almost 80% of the time, with the opponent around 10%. If you want to bet on the U.S. to have something to root for, using the goal line is obviously much more affordable. Neither option is a bargain, as domestic sports must defend against patriotic fervor.
The Over/Under is a steep three goals. Under is currently favored at -145, with optimistic bets on Over returning +125. Sports books know that the public likes betting Over because it’s more fun to root for goals than to root for defense. It will take four combined goals to cash those tickets.
If the favorites win or draw Thursday, the U.S. will face Spain Tuesday in the Round of 16. The Spaniards were underdogs of just below half-a-goal in group play vs. Germany…and the U.S. is power-rated better than Germany. A shocking loss, and the Americans would instead face the Group E runner-up that will be determined earlier Thursday (Netherlands or Canada).
For now, everything is still lined up for virtual tournament co-favorites France and the U.S. to meet in the quarterfinals on June 28. The U.S. is currently projected to be a slight “road” favorite in Paris.
▪ NBA fans and bettors are still recovering from the news of the blockbuster trade this past weekend that sent Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans to the Los Angeles Lakers (and bringing Lonzo Ball and others to the Big Easy).
Though relatively few sports books post futures prices this far in advance of a new season, those that are taking bets offshore and in Las Vegas (at the Westgate) are seeing the Lakers near +150 to win the Western Conference (risk $100 to win $150), and +300 to win the 2020 NBA Championship. New Orleans is near 40/1 to win the West offshore, and 60/1 to claim the league crown in Vegas.
New Jersey-based sports book PointsBet has already posted ‘Regular Season Win” totals. The Lakers are at 53.5 wins, New Orleans 33.5. Gamblers can bet Over or Under the posted total. Only wins during the 82-game season are included in this prop. Those totals give you a current sense of expectations for both teams heading into the draft and any additional free agency developments.
▪ In Major League Baseball, the Houston Astros and New York Yankees begin a huge four-game series Thursday night in the Bronx. Those two are current favorites to win the American League according to a global composite of futures odds. The latest show Houston 3/2, NY Yankees 3/1, Minnesota 4/1, Tampa Bay 13/5, and Boston 8/1 at the top of the AL heap.
Odds to win the National League…Los Angeles Dodgers 3/2, Atlanta 6/1, Philadelphia 7/1, Milwaukee 7/1, Chicago Cubs 7/1, St. Louis 14/1, Arizona 20/1.