England have made their way through to the last eight of the Women’s World Cup for a fourth consecutive tournament and should be favoured to go a step further still when they take on Norway at the Stade Oceane in Le Havre (8pm Thursday live on BBC TV).
After reaching the quarter-finals in each of their first three participations in the Women’s World Cup (1995, 2007 and 2011), England made a breakthrough in Canada four years ago, reaching the final four before losing to eventual runners-up Japan.
After likewise reaching the final four at Euro 2017, England came into this World Cup ranked third in the world by FIFA and as the fourth favourites to lift the trophy with the bookmakers. They have justified those assessments by winning all four of their matches to date, scoring eight and conceding just once.
Phil Neville’s side booked their place in the quarter-finals with a 3-0 win over Cameroon on Sunday. They took the lead through Steph Houghton 15 minutes in, and then doubled their lead right at the end of the half when Ellen White provided a cool finish to Lucy Bronze’s neat flick into the area. Alex Greenwood put the result beyond doubt by sweeping in Toni Duggan’s driven corner for the third just before the hour mark. Our match preview’s suggested betting tip, for ‘England to win both halves’ was duly landed.
The goals did, though, only tell part of the story. It was an emotionally charged match in which Cameroon vehemently protested a pair of VAR decisions. The first regarded the validity of White’s goal, which VAR got right. The second, a lot more marginal, was their objection to VAR ruling out Ajara Nchout’s ‘goal’ for Cameroon early in the second half. Cameroon became violent in the closing stages, with Houghton fortunate to escape serious injury following a reckless sliding challenge.
Neville afterwards said that he was “completely and utterly ashamed of the opposition.” That provided the media with an easy headline, and seemed to become the primary focus of post-match coverage. That it was a decent England performance, albeit one in which there were certainly spells when they lost control (most notably during the first 10 to 15 minutes of the second half before Greenwood’s goal settled them), was rather lost.
Norway will likely provide a stiffer test of England’s qualities. They are ranked 12th in the world by FIFA, and overcame sixth-ranked Australia to make it through to the last eight. In an open match that had a little bit of everything, Norway eventually emerged triumphant on penalties after Isabell Herlovsen’s first-half strike had been equalised by a late Australian goal direct from a corner. On the balance of chances, they were deserved winners.
Coming into the tournament, Norway were simply keen to make up for their dire showing at Euro 2017, when they were eliminated at the group stage without picking up a point or scoring a goal. They have easily done that. Their only defeat so far has come to hosts France, and they have already bettered their run to the last 16 in Canada four years ago.
Norway would have been even stronger contenders had they been able to call on the Lyon forward and inaugural female Ballon d’Or winner Ada Hegerberg, but she elected not to take part in the tournament due to a longstanding dispute with the football federation over their level of support for the women’s national team. Without her, Norway’s primary threats are the prolific, line-breaking dribbler Caroline Graham Hansen and the forward Herlovsen.
In general, Martin Sjogren’s team are a competently structured side, but one who tend to struggle against stronger teams. Before eliminating Australia, they had lost each of their last four and eight of their previous 10 matches against teams currently ahead of them in the FIFA rankings, only three times scoring more than a single goal, twice in defeat.
Our Preview’s England Women vs Norway Betting Tips’ Verdict
England will expect their opponents to take a relatively cautious approach to the match and will have to maintain a good balance between attack and defence if they are to progress to the final four. With White in good form, with four goals already to her name, and other dangerous attacking options, they can be expected to have the edge over Norway.
That leads to this suggested wager with one of the top UK online bookmakers:
- Bet on ‘England to win in a match in which Ellen White scores’ (on the score/ win market) @ best odds of 3/1 with Paddy Power.
Compare Norway vs England Women Match Betting Odds from Best Bookies