England Women have tools to sucker punch Japan’s ball hoggers


England Women face their sternest World Cup challenge yet in the form of holders Japan, but there’s reason to believe the Lionesses’ captivating journey won’t stop at the semis.

The odds would say otherwise, but then this is even more reason for England fans to be cheerful, as a potential windfall could be pocketed if a first ever final is reached.

Ladbrokes offer Japan up as 11/10 favourites to secure victory over 90 minutes, while the draw is rated as a 21/10 chance, leaving England tagged as very tempting 3/1 outsiders.

However, slightly shorter odds of 7/4 on Mark Sampson’s side to qualify by any means perhaps better reflects the underdogs’ healthy chances and this ranks as one of the premium punts on the contest for several reasons.

Although the Japanese have won all of their five matches in Canada, the Asian representatives haven’t been doing so in particularly emphatic fashion, winning by a single goal on each occasion.

England cannot claim to have fully dominated opposition either in fairness, barring Colombia in the group stages perhaps, but they have never lost to Japan in three prior meetings, including a group-stage win over the would-be champions at the last World Cup.

Considering what’s at stake in Edmonton and the fact neither side has registered more than twice, or conceded more than a single goal in a 2015 World Cup match yet, the unders markets may be worth exploration.

Backing under 2.5 goals at 9/20 and south of 1.5 at more appealing odds of 27/20 looks shrewd business.

The way the match is likely to play out will see Japan enjoy large swathes of possession such as the 60-40 split in their favour during that narrow 1-0 quarter-final victory over Australia.

The Japanese are the patient passing outfit of Women’s international football, though few teams at the tournament possess England’s pace and purpose on the counter as hosts Canada found out to their dismay in the last eight.

Sampson will not be overly concerned in containing Japan with a good shape and will no doubt be looking to players such as skilful left-winger Karen Carney – who has already notched twice – and fit-again striker Jodie Taylor to pounce on any misplaced passes or overconfidence.

As right-back Lucy Bronze demonstrated with her second goal of the tournament against Canada, a towering header from a set piece, England will carry an aerial threat their more diminutive opponents should struggle with.

Now exuding confidence from her expertly-taken opener against the host nation to silence the 54,000 strong Vancouver crowd, a goal from Taylor as part of an England win gets the seal of approval at 9/1.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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