England vs Japan – Forget the patriotic punt, get on Japan to win

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Patriotic punting may define the women’s World Cup betting market but there is no excuse for punters not to take plenty of the 23/20 for a Japan win tonight.

Japan may have already qualified for the last eight but should they lose to England tonight then they will finish the group as runners-up and Norio Sasaki will want his side finish on top of a group they have dominated thus far.

Hope Powell has called for her England side to get over the nerves they’ve shown in their opening two games and stifle the Japan team tonight, suggesting Powell is playing for a draw and qualification tonight.

That strategy could backfire massively against a Japanese side that has scored six goals in their opening two games, and the fourth best team in women’s football should justify their favouritism tonight.

The two teams played out a 2-2 draw in their only previous meeting in the 2007 World Cup and the draw looks England’s best hope of a result tonight and patriotic punters can back it at 2/1.

Kelly Smith scored a brace on that occasion and she remains the biggest threat to the Japanese back line, but the England defence will have to cope with Homare Sawa and Aya Miyama and on the basis of their performances so far, the two Japanese attackers have the better of the English defenders.

Miyama also scored a brace in the 2-2 draw with England but is being upstaged by Sawa at this year’s tournament after the 32-year-old grabbed a hat-trick in Japan’s encounter with Mexico.

Despite the fact both teams will be comfortable playing out a goalless draw, we’re likely to see some very attacking play tonight and over 2.5 goals looks a great bet at 11/10.

A 3-1 win for Japan is priced at 18/1 and with England’s problems in defence, has every chance of happening but the 7/1 for a 2-1 victory looks the more realistic.

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Robbie Morris

Robbie studied sports journalism at the University of Gloucestershire, an establishment chosen for its proximity to Cheltenham racecourse, where he was a season ticket holder. Upon graduation, Robbie was a contributor to GolfPunk, a national magazine aimed at ridding golf of its traditionalist image, before joining the news.ladbrokes team.