The United States women’s national team begins its 2019 World Cup campaign Tuesday when it takes on Thailand. This is considered a guaranteed win for the U.S., which has a money line of -9999 and a spread of five goals. Thailand, meanwhile, has a money line of +4900.
Despite reaching their first World Cup four years ago, Thailand is still only ranked 34th in the world. They’ve also not fared well in games leading up to the World Cup, including games against teams that aren’t in the World Cup. Despite bringing back plenty of experience from the 2015 World Cup team, expectations are modest for Thailand heading into this year’s tournament.
Meanwhile, the Americans are considered by most to be favorites to repeat as champions. After a somewhat uneven start to the year, the Americans seem to have found their groove, outscoring opponents 11-0 in their three games right before the tournament. Despite some lingering questions, the U.S. looks ready to defend their title.
The U.S. attack is the biggest reason they are favored to win the tournament. The trio of Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, and Tobin Heath is the best in the world. Even the backup trio of Christen Press, Mallory Pugh, and 2015 World Cup hero Carli Lloyd is better than the attacking band of nearly every other team in the tournament. Combined with the creativity of Rose Lavelle and skill of Lindsey Horan coming out of the midfield, the U.S. attack is a potentially unstoppable force.
Of course, the American backline has some questions. Goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher is inexperienced in a major tournament, and the U.S. is more or less forcing Crystal Dunn to play left back rather than a position further up the field because they don’t have any other options. However, that issue may not be a big deal against Thailand, as the Americans figure to have a majority of the possession.
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Thailand played in the World Cup four years ago and even won a game over the Ivory Coast. That experience should pay dividends this time around, as the Thai team was a little out of their depth, losing to both Norway and Germany 4-0. However, it’s unclear if Thailand is any better prepared for an even more difficult group this time around.
One thing we do know for sure is that Thailand will likely concede possession against the U.S. and hope to find opportunities on the counterattack. The Thai team is quick and skilled, giving them a chance to catch the U.S. off guard. They will also be aggressive and borderline reckless going forward when they have a chance to attack, which could lead to problems if they’re not careful.
Obviously, the U.S. is going to win this game; otherwise, it would be an unfathomable upset. But that doesn’t mean a money line of -9999 is worth the bet. The real question is the five-goal spread. The U.S. beat Thailand 9-0 when they met in 2016. However, the Thai team only lost to France 3-0 last month despite conceding 15 shots on goal, so it’s a tough call. In the end, the Americans will have their best lineup and be motivated to start the tournament fast, so bet on the U.S. to cover the five-goal spread.