USA v Japan Preview

2015 Women's World Cup Final | Monday 06 July | Vancouver | 01:00




USA and Japan will meet in a final of a major competition for a third consecutive time to decide the Women’s World Cup in Vancouver, Canada. This a repeat of the 2011 final, where Japan edged USA on penalties while the US got some revenge the following year by beating the world champions in the 2012 Olympic final. However, there is no greater triumph than the World Cup and USA would have wanted nothing else but to face Japan in this year’s final. The two teams reached the final in somewhat divergent fashions. Despite a few questionable calls that went their way, the United States dominated Germany—the No. 1 seed in the tournament—and won, 2-0. Japan, on the other hand, were largely outplayed by England but managed to advance to the final after a 92nd-minute own goal. USA come into the match as firm favourites at 8/10 to exact their revenge.


To Win (90mins)
USA 15/20
Draw 9/4
Japan 4/1


USA

USA had to overcome the most difficult opponents in their semi-final. It was a hard-fought encounter played out in front of a partisan crowd of more than 50,000 people, but English-born coach Jill Ellis's USA side took their chances to end Germany's World Cup dreams. The Olympic champions went into the match boasting the meanest defence of the tournament; in five games only Australia had beaten goalkeeper Hope Solo and that was in their opening match. Germany, in contrast, went into the game as the highest scorers, but Solo's goal withstood the European champions - even when they were handed a penalty shortly after the start of the second half.

USA captain Carli Lloyd kept her head to score from the spot when the US were awarded a penalty 10 minutes later. Substitute Kelley O'Hara later booked the Yanks’ place in the final six minutes from time with a close-range volley. After scuffling through the early part of the tournament, the Americans have finally hit their stride, blazing into the final with back-to-back commanding performances. They started the tournament in emphatic fashion, beating Australia 3-1, with that goal proving the only one to go past the US defence in their six matches so far. They then had one blip, drawing 0-0 with Sweden, but managed to claim top spot in their group by beating Nigeria 1-0. They grew stronger in the knockout stages, with confident wins against Colombia (2-0), China (1-0), before eliminating the top ranked nation in the world.

So strong is the US squad that arguably the country’s best ever women’s player, Abby Wambach, has been mainly used as a substitute. While Lloyd has been the star and Megan Rapinoe has provided the sizzle going forward, the team's dominance in the midfield and defence has been the biggest storyline of the tournament. And with Japan’s goalscoring not at its most fluent, the US will be aiming for their sixth and most important clean sheet of the tournament.



JAPAN

Japan advanced to the Women's World Cup final with a 2-1 win over England on Wednesday thanks to an own-goal in stoppage time to set up a historic rematch. England's Laura Bassett inexplicably poked the ball back into her own net in stoppage time, ricocheting it off the crossbar and giving keeper Karen Bardsley no chance on it. It was a cruel end to the Lionesses' campaign as in truth they had been the better side by far, but they cracked late.

Japan had not beaten England in three previous games, with two of those matches coming at World Cups. In fact, England were the last team to beat the Japanese at a Women's World Cup, in the 2011 group stage. However, the experience Japan gained in the last tournament paid off. It was perhaps Japan's poorest game of the tournament, but the important thing was that the cup specialists still manage to come out unscathed. They have looked vulnerable despite winning all six of their matches thus far, scoring nine goals and conceding just three. They earned a good win against Switzerland in their opening match but then struggled to nip wins against Cameroon and minnows Ecuador.

They overcame strong Netherlands and Australia teams in their first two knockout games, but a worrying factor is that all of their wins in this year’s showpiece have been by a single goal. Japan's balance isn't to be ignored, of course. They have used all 23 of their players at this tournament, and of their nine goals—eight scored by Japanese players—seven different women have scored them. Only star and captain Aya Miyama has scored twice for the Japanese.

Betting Verdict: USA 15/20
Many believe that defence wins championships, and these teams have illustrated that perfectly. With Japan conceding just three times and USA only once, the Under 2.5 Goals market looks a good bet at 11/20. It's hard to imagine the United States losing, especially after they controlled the match against Germany and Japan were lucky to get through against England. The Americans are tipped to get their revenge and lift their third World Cup title, which will give them one more than the Germans.

Written by Wayde Dorkin for @Hollywoodbets. Follow them both on Twitter and Facebook now!