Women’s football: Coral’s terrific World Cup tips
Canada takes centre stage as the North American nation hosts the 2015 edition of the Women’s World Cup. As the 24-team strong tournament is the first to be shown live on the BBC, Coral are offering some cracking odds to celebrate.
Here, we take a look at the five favourites plus, of course, England’s chances of lifting the coveted crown.
Two-time winners the Stars and Stripes were runners-up last time they contested the World Cup in Germany, but are strong joint-favourites to reclaim the cup in Canada.
Long a force in Women’s football, the USA boasts a host of experienced big-names who could be aiming for silverware-laden international swansongs. All-time top scorer Abby Wambach is the team’s talisman with a lethal 182 in 242 caps for her country, while diligent defender Christie Rampone has made over 300 outings.
Relative youngsters at 25 and 26 respectively, Portland Thorns forward Alex Morgan and Chicago Red Stars striker Christen Press also have fine international records, and could be ones to watch out for as the Stars and Stripes attempt to navigate a Group D containing Australia plus Sweden and Nigeria.
Watch Wambach take aim:
Nicknamed in rather straight-forward fashion as the ‘National Eleven’, Germany have enjoyed a golden era since the Millennium, winning two of the past three World Cups. However, failure to make the last four on home soil in 2011 is expected to elicit a big response.
Taking on a spirited Thailand team, plus 1999 champions Norway and the Ivory Coast in Pool B, the Germans have highly-rated attackers Celia Sasic and Alexandra Popp at their disposal, while celebrated USA-based stopper Nadine Angerer will be manning the nets hoping to claim a third World Cup medal.
England will face cross-Channel foes France in Group F, who will be keen to improve on their last fourth place finish. One of women’s football’s heavy weights, they have never lifted this trophy, and that must rankle.
Les Bleus boss Philippe Bergeroo, a three-capped former keeper for the men’s side, will be confident as France have often had the measure of their Three Lionesses rivals, while sharpshooting pair Marie-Laure Delie and Gaetane Thiney certainly have goals in them.
The Female Canaries, decked out in the famous gold and green, missed their chance to win this tournament back in 2007 after being sunk by Germany in the final, but could be tasty chances to make amends in Canada.
Arriving as champions of the 2014 Copa America Femenina, expectations will be high for Brazil to emerge unscathed against Costa Rica, Spain and South Korea from Pool E. Much of the weight will fall on five-time FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year and superstar striker Marta.
The former 2007 World Cup Golden Ball and Golden Boot victor is one of few Brazilians to ply her trade outside her homeland, currently representing Swedish side Rosengard, and majestic Matra, joint World Cup all-time top scorer, can smash records in North America.
Watch Marta’s amazing skills:
As holders, Japan are excellent value to retain their title, and the East Asian outfit have already been given a boost by the inclusion of star playmaker, icon and all-time top scorer Homare Sawa, who was a doubt for the squad.
An organised and team-work orientated unit, Japan could certainly go all the way again with Sawa and skipper Aya Miyama pulling the strings.
Sawa’s greatest goal?
Oh England. The Three Lionesses have never made it past the quarter-finals before, so a last four finish should be the most realistic target for Mark Sampson’s plucky side.
Most-capped England player and Liverpool star Fara Williams is still available, but the Three Lionesses lack a true predator since top scorer Kelly Smith’s recent retirement.
Coral’s best betting tip: with Marta in the ranks back Brazil @ 6/1 to win the World Cup