After being sold a lie from Phil Neville that both of his first-choice centre-backs were “major doubts” for their quarter-final against Norway, my last bets were heavily beaten.
The good news, however, was that England produced their best performance of the Women’s World Cup to thrash Norway 3-0, setting up this tasty tie against the defending champions, USA.
Norway never really got going. For a side that was organised, practical and efficient in attack, they looked sluggish. Maybe it’s because they made only one change to their starting XI in their last three games and an unchanged side from the one that played 120 minutes in their last match against Australia.
It’s no wonder why the sheer pace of Lucy Bronze and the dominant Nikita Parris just seemed to penetrate the Norwegian defence time and time again. That right-hand side partnership is the best in the world.
It only took three minutes to get the Lionesses roaring. A miskick from Ellen White meant that she basically dummied Bronzes’ cross for the ball to land to Jill Scott, to smash in from a couple of yards away. Parris helped double the lead by assisting Ellen White who notched her fifth goal of the tournament, only USA’s Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe have scored as many.
As many times as we’ve seen before, after the half-time break, England started to fade a little. That’s where I still worry about the team, especially facing America.
Luckily Norway failed to capitalise, and then Bronze scored a worldie which put the tie to bed. It could have been four, but Parris missed her second penalty of the tournament.
However, the USA pose a different problem to the Lionesses. They also scored within the first ten minutes in their quarter-final against France, however, worked with 40% of the possession to win 2-1.
America were nothing but clinical in attack; from that 40% possession, they created half the attempts that their opponents did, but had more shots on goal.
The main difference in the game was Rapinoe. In the headlines for different reasons, she showed her fight from off the pitch, on it.
“Hell hath no fury” and that.
She was the one doing the most with the ball when the Americans had it and her determination was rewarded by netting a brace. It put her team through to the semis and puts her with Morgan and White in the Golden Boot race.
But, the USA still haven’t looked their best either and they were easily undone by France when they launched a set piece into the box for Wendie Renard to get, what would be, a consolation goal.
They were also on the back foot for a while, and I don’t think they looked so hot in their Round Of 16 match against Spain either.
The last match between defending champions and England was only four months ago, it ended 2-2.
With both teams allowing time and space for their opponents to come back into the game, the play here is Both Teams To Score at 19/20.
Best Bet: Both Teams To Score (Yes) – 19/20
If we are going for both teams to score, I was surprised to see that Over 2.5 Goals is odds-against; it would have landed in three out of five England matches and four out of five USA matches.
They also have three players across the two teams who head the top goalscorer table.
There’s a lot of goals to be had in this. You may also want to consider combining the Over 2.5 Goals with Both Teams to Score with the Same Game Multi option.
Best Bet: Over 2.5 Goals – 6/5
I’ve mentioned Morgan, Rapinoe and White a lot during this piece. One of these great teams having to go out at the semi-final stage, along with one or two of the top goalscorers, is sad.
Rapinoe is on form and White has consistently scored throughout the competition. I’ll be backing both to score anytime in a Same Game Multi double at around 17/2.
Best Bet: Megan Rapinoe and Ellen White to score anytime – 17/2
It’s tough to call a winner on this one, well, it’s been tough to call out any winners really.
USA are the favourites for the reason, but if you think the Lionesses could just dent them, then take England on the Draw No Bet market at 11/5.
However, USA have won their last two games 2-1 against tough opposition and if the holders do it again, it will net a neat 7/1 play on the Correct Score market.
* All prices correct at time of posting.