Australia vs Nigeria Odds, Prediction, Picks | Women’s World Cup Preview

Australia vs Nigeria Odds, Prediction, Picks | Women’s World Cup Preview article feature image

Elsa/Getty. Pictured: Christy Ucheibe.

Australia vs Nigeria Odds

Thursday, July 27
6 a.m. ET
Australia Odds-223
Nigeria Odds+600
Over/Under2.5 (+110 / -143)
Both Teams to Score (Yes/No)(+137 / -188)
Odds via bet365. Get up-to-the-minute World Cup odds here.

Australia won their opening match of the women's World Cup by way of a second half penalty against Ireland, but the Matildas were otherwise lackluster in their 1-0 victory. They are one point behind Canada in Group B with a game in hand on the Canadians, and the group winner is likely to be decided on the final day of group play when they play one another.

They will first face Nigeria on Thursday without their top striker, Sam Kerr. Kerr picked up a calf strain in training the day before their opening match and was ruled out for at least the first two at the time. The attack struggled to generate consistent chances against Ireland in that match without her and the market has clearly downgraded them off the performance.

Let's break down this Australia vs Nigeria fixture, with my pick at the end.

Australia Facing Questions in Attack

Given that they were playing at home against a considerably inferior side (Australia were -300 on the moneyline pre-match), the Matildas' tally of nine total box entries is quite underwhelming. Canada were able to consistently get through Ireland for decent scoring opportunities on Wednesday morning and tallied 2.1 xG in their 2-1 victory. That performance raises questions of the quality of the Aussie attack without Kerr.

It's also important to not overreact to one match though, and this is the same Australia team that beat England 2-0 and beat France 1-0 in two matches leading into the World Cup.

🇦🇺 Australia 1-0 Republic of Ireland 🇮🇪

Australia make it a co-host double for wins on the opening day of the 2023 #FIFAWWC.

After opening game defeats to Brazil in 2011, USA in 2015 and Italy in 2019, starting the tournament with a win makes a nice change for the Matildas.

— Opta Analyst (@OptaAnalyst) July 20, 2023

The Opta data from the match highlights the four shots from both Caitlin Foord and Katrina Gorry, but also shows the lack of clear scoring opportunities without Kerr. They did play better in the second half when compared to the first from a shot volume perspective, which has been a common theme for some of the big favorites in this tournament.

Australia didn't just lose Kerr, but her replacement — Mary Fowler from Manchester City — is also out after picking up an injury in the first match. Fowler played 84 minutes against Ireland and her absence means that Foord is the only available and recognized striker for this match.

Building more depth was one of the main priorities for Australia in this World Cup cycle, but that depth was intended to supplement Kerr and Fowler as the superstar forwards. Without them, it's an attack lacking dynamism.

Nigeria Need to Replicate Opening Performance

Nigeria should be praised for their stout defensive performance against Canada, which looks better in hindsight after seeing the Canadians create a handful of high quality chances against Ireland. The question is whether or not they can replicate the performance and steal another point in this group to keep themselves very much in play on the final day. Nigeria managed 19 successful tackles in its first match, which highlights a real strength of the team.

No other team in the entire tournament won the ball off their opponent via tackles more in the first match than Nigeria did. They regained possession a ton in their own final third by getting physical with the Canadians and winning the ball. Only a few teams committed more fouls as a result of this defensive approach, but the Nigerians also didn't have a single error in possession that led to a chance for the opponent.

Barcelona won the Champions League this season in Europe and Nigerian forward Asisat Oshoala was a major reason why. Her 1.4 xG per 90 production was the best in Europe's top eight leagues. 

Leading defensive midfielder Deborah Abiodun will be suspended for the match after she picked up a red card in stoppage time against Canada. She was a key part in the defensive set up for Nigeria, but Oshoala's presence (two shots and 0.2 xG in the first match) makes her the best attacking player in this game for either team.

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Australia vs Nigeria Pick

Nigeria showed themselves to be a capable defensive outfit that is well organized in their opening match. They forced most of Canada's attacks to come from wide crosses from bad angles, and if they're able to replicate the defensive approach, Australia will struggle to break them down.

Australia's system was built to supply Fowler and Kerr with crosses. Without that excellent striking duo and no real depth behind Foord, the Aussies don't have enough firepower to separate from Nigeria. I'd bet Nigeria +1 at -125 or better.

The Pick: Nigeria +1 (-125 or better)

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