Women’s World Cup last 16: exciting England to nudge aside Norway
According to coach Mark Sampson, England (6/4 match favourites with Coral to win over 90 minutes) can “make history” against Norway in their last 16 Women’s World Cup duel, as the Lionesses have never before won a knockout game in the competition.
Having successfully navigated their way out of a competitive Group E also containing Colombia, France and Mexico, finishing in a respectable second spot, England are now 20/1 to win the tournament, though they must first find a way past the Grasshoppers.
Should they do so, a tantalising quarter-final clash against either hosts Canada or Switzerland would await, but up next are Norway (9/5 to win), who also finished second, behind Germany, in Group B.
An organised outfit, the Scandinavian side are undefeated so far in Canada, conceding just once in three games so far, which makes the Grasshoppers an enticing 2/1 to keep a clean sheet again.
Having racked up an excellent eight goals so far, Norway are not just a defensive force, with top scorer on three, 19-year-old Lyon sensation Ada Hegereberg the best shout at 6/1 to score first, or 7/4 in the anytime market.
Fans of the Lionesses should have faith, however, as England have more than enough talent to trouble their Scandinavian opponents.
Lionesses leader Sampson has already hit headlines for his successful, but extensive, tinkering with tactics and rotation, using all 20 of his outfield players over three games.
“To be honest I hadn’t planned to use all 20 outfield players by now. It’s just happened – but in a nice way. And all the players are now physically sharp, fit, fresh and good to go.
“The longer we last in this tournament the more different Englands we’ll have to show opponents within games,” added the Welshman.
Dubbed a “wizard” by Sampson is star winger Karen Carney, who proved to be inspirational against Colombia last time out. The 27-year-old is 7/1 to draw first blood, and the brilliant Birmingham City talisman will be key to any Lionesses attack.
Joining Carney will likely be 21-year-old Reading forward Fran Kirby (2/1 to be on target anytime), who boasts huge promise with three strikes in 12 caps, and formidable leading lady Jodie Taylor (2/1), who has only recently returned from a spell on the sidelines but showed in a cameo against Colombia that she has not lost her spark.
Coral’s betting tip: back England at an excellent 6/4 to defeat Norway over 90 minutes
Watch Carney’s cracking free kick for Birmingham: