England will hope to get their Women’s World Cup campaign off to a winning start when they take on geographical neighbours Scotland at the Allianz Riviera stadium in Nice on Sunday (5pm live on BBC1).
The two home nations have contrasting recent histories in women’s football. England have qualified for each of the last three World Cups, and made the semi-finals in Canada in four years ago. Scotland are making their debut at the tournament this summer.
That helps to explain why England are so heavily favoured both to secure victory on Sunday and go on from there to qualify from Group D. Their primary competition for top spot will come from Japan, while Scotland will scrap it out alongside Argentina to try and pick up enough points perhaps to sneak through as one of the four best third-placed teams.
England are, in fact, one of the primary contenders to win the Women’s World Cup. Only holders United States, hosts France, and Germany are currently ranked ahead of them by our top recommended bookmakers. One respected statistical model also has them as the fourth favourites, with a 20% chance of making the final and a 10% chance of winning it.
We have a pretty good idea of England’s level because they have taken on a number of the best teams in the women’s game since Phil Neville took charge in January 2018. In that time, they have played 10 matches against teams currently ranked inside FIFA’s top 10. In those, they have beaten Brazil (twice), France and Japan, drawn with Australia, Germany and United States and lost to Canada, Sweden and United States.
There has been plenty of experimentation with personnel through Neville’s 19 matches at the helm to date, but the primary issue to be resolved coming into the World Cup is how he will fit a number of talented attacking players into a coherent system. He seems to have settled on a more conservative approach behind them that will rely on decisive contributions from those upfield.
They certainly have the talent to provide just that. Nikita Parris is joining perennial Champions League winners Lyon on the back of a superb season at Manchester City, where she notched 19 goals and seven assists. Toni Duggan reached the Champions League final with Barcelona. Jodie Taylor (Reign FC of the USA’s NWSL), Fran Kirby (Chelsea), Beth Mead (Arsenal) and Ellen White (Manchester City) are all accomplished players.
It should be enough to overcome a Scotland side who England thrashed 6-0 (with Taylor grabbing a hat-trick) when they last met during the group stage of Euro 2017, even though the difference between the sides is unlikely to be quite as vast this time around. Over the course of the last seven months or so, Scotland have defeated both Brazil (10th ranked) and Denmark (17th ranked) and lost by a single goal to top-five teams Canada and United States.
There are some potentially dangerous players among the 11 members of their squad who currently ply their trade in England. Arsenal midfielder Kim Little has been a trophy winner wherever she has played and now finally gets the opportunity to represent her country in a major international tournament after missing out on Scotland’s appearance at Euro 2017 through injury. Manchester City’s Claire Emslie is a creative wide player capable of causing problems, while Chelsea’s Erin Cuthbert strikes a mean long-range shot.
The simple fact of being drawn alongside Argentina, probably the worst team in the competition, gives Scotland a chance of running up a convincing enough victory there to put themselves in contention to advance as one of the best third-placed teams. If they could also grab a point against either England or Japan, all the better. The chances of them doing so on Sunday are pretty low. They can be found as long as 21/4 to even hold England to a draw.
England enter the World Cup with plenty of optimism and can be expected to record a relatively comfortable win in their opener. Scotland do, though, carry enough of a goal threat (they have scored in 10 of their last 12 internationals) to suggest that they have a solid chance of getting on the scoresheet at some point on Sunday.
Our Preview’s England Women vs Scotland Women Betting Tips Verdict
- Bet on England to win in a match in which both teams score (Match Result and Both Teams to Score market) @ 13/5 with BetVictor, Paddy Power or Betfair.
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