Even though they’re currently ranked as high as number four in the world by FIFA, Japan has been a surprise in this year’s Women’s World Cup by knocking out the hosts Germany with a 1-0 win in extra time in their quarterfinal matchup. They now have a chance to make it to the final as they meet fifth-ranked Sweden in a semi-final showdown in Frankfurt on July 13th.
Sweden made it to the semi-final stage by beating Australia 3-1 in their quarterfinal match on July 10th and are the only unbeaten team in the tournament. In fact they’ve won all four of their games by beating Colombia and Korea 1-0 and then edging the USA 2-1 in the group stage.
Japan beat New Zealand 2-1 and Mexico 4-0 in the group stage before they were brought back down to earth with a 2-0 loss to England. However, they bounced back from that disappointment to stun the Germans in front of their home fans when Karina Maruyama slid the ball into the net in the 108th minute to knock them out of the tournament on July 9th.
Even though Japan is ranked higher at the moment, the Swedish women have been rolling along and look tough to beat. It’s going to take another exceptional effort by Japan to overcome them and advance. But if they’ve already knocked out two-time defending champion Germany at home during the tournament, it’s possible they could now stop the hottest team in its tracks.
However, for Japan to be successful they’re going to have to be firing on all cylinders and Homare Sawa could be the key to victory as she pounded home a hat-trick against Mexico. If the Sweden can keep her at bay, Japan’s chances will be greatly reduced.
Sweden has been impressive all over the field so far in the event and they haven’t really been pushed to the limit and tested yet. This should all change in the semi-final though as Japan’s work rate is amongst the best in world soccer.
Japan also struggled in the qualifying campaign and made it to the World Cup via a 2-0 win over China in a playoff round. Sweden, on the other hand, sailed through the qualification stages and topped their group by nine points with seven wins and a draw.
The current odds on this game offered by sportsbook 5Dimes.com have Sweden favored at +133 with Japan at +226 and a 90-minute draw at +240. 5Dimes is our top rated online sportsbook for betting on the Women’s World Cup because they offer the most bettor friendly odds.
The oddsmakers are probably right on this one as Sweden should come out on top after 90 minutes by two goals at the most, with a 3-1 win looking about right.
Pick: Sweden +133