U.S., France meet as undefeated yet imperfect foes

June 27, 2019 09:53 PM

When the United States Women’s National Team takes on host France Friday in the quarterfinals of the 2019 World Cup (FOX, 3 p.m. ET), the much-anticipated meeting will feature powers struggling to match market expectations vs. top competition. 

Neither team impressed in its Round of 16 victories over Spain and Brazil, respectively. Both showed vulnerabilities against their toughest opponents in group play. 

Let’s take a look:

The U.S. was laying the equivalent of 1.25 goals Monday vs. Spain in global markets. The Stars and Stripes needed two successful penalty kicks to win the game 2-1. Stunningly, its hyped machinery of offensive talent could only put three shots on goal, while earning just three corner kicks. 

Give the team credit for possessing the ball often enough in the penalty area to get kicked in the shin. More is expected vs. mediocre opposition at those odds. 

The U.S. did cover the goal line in a prior 2-0 win over Sweden in group play. But, that game featured only four shots on goal and five corner kicks for the big favorites. This was a team expected to launch dangerous shots at will vs. lesser lights. 

France, laying -1.25 goals vs. Brazil, needed overtime to survive 2-1. France’s first tally was its ONLY shot on goal for the bulk of regulation time. Aging Brazil ran out of gas or the hosts may not have made it to Friday.

France, laying just under -1.5 goals vs. Norway in group play could only manage a 2-1 victory (helped by a penalty kick in the final minutes). The French had trouble keeping possession, losing that stat 56% to 44% to the big underdog.

Hey, both teams are undefeated. Both could easily have been caught looking ahead to this meeting that everyone’s been talking about since the day of the draw. Friday’s winner will still be the market favorite to lift the Cup, though Germany has been getting a lot of sharp play on the futures board. Neither is yet playing to big-game expectations.

VSiN compiled estimated “market” Power Ratings for the latter stages of the 2019 women’s World Cup on a “goal supremacy” scale. You can take the numbers from any two teams to project the fractional difference in goals that will determine pricing in a head-to-head matchup. 

Here’s how we had the field entering the quarterfinals (which began Thursday with England defeating Norway 3-0): USA 5.3, France 5.1, Germany 4.9, England 4.7, Netherlands 4.4, Norway 4.3, Sweden 4.3, Italy 4.1.

Global odds show the U.S. favored over France by just under 0.25 goals. That’s why have the two WWC favorites 0.2 goals part on our scale. You can see that Friday’s winner will be favored over any potential opponent. If the survivor does so in unimpressive fashion, it could drop closer to the pack. 

Though the U.S. tops the futures board, it’s the nature of probabilities that the Stars and Stripes are a slight underdog to run the remaining table.

 

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