Although a distance from being a Women’s World Cup clichéd ‘group of death’, Group D has provided England with adequate challenges ahead of the rest of the tournament.
After a battling victory over the Scots in Nice in their opening game, Phil Neville’s side also overcame Argentina in their last match. A tightly-fought game in Le Havre was won by Jodie Taylor’s finish, following a fluent counter-attack.
The Japanese are no slouchers when it comes to the World Cup. They won the tournament in 2011 and followed that up by reaching the final again in 2015. They were somewhat disappointing in their opening draw with the Argentinians, but showed their quality with a relatively comfortable win over Scotland on Friday.
Our football betting expert previews the contest and gives you the best bets to look out for.
Although they didn’t show enough impetus against Argentina, the flair and technical ability of the Japanese shone in their second game. They beat Scotland 2-1 and were good value for their win, despite a late wobble in Rennes.
The forward pair of Sugasawa and Iwabuchi were a handful throughout the match and both got on the score sheet in the first half. Iwabuchi in particular was impressive, and she is available to score first on Wednesday at around 15/2 with Grosvenorsport.com.
On the whole Scotland defended too deep. They allowed Japan’s creative players such as Emi Nakajima and Hina Sugita too much possession in dangerous areas and England will need to bring their defensive line much higher up the field if they want to avoid a similar fate.
Nakajima is a former FIFA Player of the Year and can cause England damage if given the opportunity. She only has 14 goals in 69 international appearances and is available at 11/2 to add to that anytime at Grosvenorsport.com.
England too had a nervy finish to their encounter with Scotland, which also finished 2-1. They were by no means fluent in the victory but will be delighted to have dealt successfully with a tricky fixture.
They weren’t much more convincing in their 1-0 win over Argentina. Despite 17 shots, England lacked fire power and composure in-front of goal.
Two games ✅
Two wins ✅
— GrosvenorSport (@GrosvenorSport) June 14, 2019
Perhaps some of the visible tension present in the first two games will be released by England’s qualification for the knockout stages. Japan are yet to confirm their spot in the knockout stages and will need Scotland to get a result against Argentina in the other Group D game, in Paris. England will want to send a message against strong opposition and I fancy them to score more than 2.5 goals at 5/1.
Fran Kirby is still waiting to really kick start her campaign. The diminutive Chelsea forward hasn’t scored for England since March 2018 and she’ll be keen to add to her only current World Cup goal against Mexico in 2015. She didn’t get many opportunities in the first two games but I fancy her to get on the score sheet against Japan. She’s available at around 3/1 to score anytime at Grosvenorsport.com.
A key battle for England will be if Jill Scott can keep the aforementioned Sugita quiet in the Japanese midfield. Scott was once again the Lionesses stand out performer against Scotland and Argentina. The Man City midfielder seems to get better with age and is at the heart of everything Phil Neville’s side do.
The Japanese are one of the best sides in the Women’s World Cup, but England should beat them. I fancy it to be a much more open game than we have seen thus far in Group D, and there should be value in an England win and both teams to score at 5/1.