England entered this tournament amongst the favourites to lift the cup. Ranked 3rd in the world and fresh from winning the SheBelieves Cup, the Lionesses entered the World Cup in form – despite some concerning performances in recent friendlies. Having finished 3rd last time out, Phil Neville’s side have experience of going deep in the tournament. Should they make it through the group stages to the knockout rounds, Germany and USA are sure to be their biggest obstacles. Hosts France are also expected to make the most of home advantage and progress through the competition.
In their first Group D fixture, England met a Scotland side who they’d comprehensively beaten 6-0 at Euro 2017, the last time the sides met in a major competition. This time out, while the outcome was the same – a victory for the Lionesses – the performance was anything but.
The match started in open fashion, Nikita Parris giving England the lead on her World Cup debut when she converted a video assistant referee awarded penalty. Player of the match Ellen White then doubled the advantage for Phil Neville’s side before the break. England tired in the second half and allowed Scotland back into the game when Claire Emslie took advantage of a poor pass from England captain Steph Houghton and fired in from close range.
Argentina’s story – and position within the women’s game – is very different from England’s. In their opening game they put in a resilient performance to earn a 0-0 draw with 2011 World Cup winners Japan, a team ranked 30 places above them in the FIFA rankings. Coming into the game they had lost all six of their previous World Cup matches. The fact that they even qualified is a miracle in itself.
The team returned to action in 2018 following a two-year hiatus, with no games or coach in place during that period due to a dispute with their own football association. Put simply, the Argentine FA refused to finance the team – a stark contrast to their English counterparts who receive the most investment of any women’s team in Europe. During their last World Cup appearance, in 2007, the team was made up of amateur players and it’s only this year that the AFA took the decision to finally support a professional league in the country.
Anything other than an England win would be a monumental shock and lead to serious questions being asked of Phil Neville and his squad. England are favoured more to win the tournament – at 8/1 – than Argentina are to win this game.
With such little value to be found in backing an England win, we’d opt for another option that is almost guaranteed for England and that’s attacking focal point, Ellen White, to score anytime at 3/4 (1.75).
*Odds subject to change. Odds correct at time of publishing.
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