Japan vs Sweden Odds, Pick | Women’s World Cup Match Prediction
Visionhaus/Getty. Pictured: Elin Rubensson.
Japan vs Sweden Odds
Sweden are once again an underdog to advance in the women's World Cup knockout stage after the Swedes beat the United States in a penalty shootout on Sunday to knock off the two-time defending World Cup champions.
No team in the entire tournament has seen their power rating and odds to win the title improve more dramatically than Japan headed into the second quarterfinal on Friday in Auckland. Japan have won all four matches in this tournament convincingly with 14 goals for and just one conceded. The Japanese have been extremely efficient in front of goal in the last two matches in particular, with seven goals scored against Spain and Norway from just nine total shots on target.
Japan are likely to have more of the possession in this matchup as Sweden look to take a similar approach to their match against the United States, and set pieces will play a key role in how the European side tries to create scoring chances.
Japan have created the second-most xG in the entire tournament behind only Spain, and they've also conceded the second-fewest xGA. It's a major reason why the team that had 33/1 odds to win the tournament when it began and was +500 to win its own group is now the third-betting favorite to lift the trophy next Sunday.
The Japanese showed a real tactical flexibility and final third efficiency in their demolition of Spain in the final match of the group stage, and then showed they can take care of business as a favorite against a team willing to cede possession in Norway. Japan had just 24% of the possession in the 4-0 win against Spain and had a ton of success striking quickly immediately after Spain lost possession of the ball. Against Norway, Japan held 60% of the ball, tilted the field and outshot Norway 16-8 in total.
Given how Sweden approached their match against the United States, I'd expect Japan to have the majority of the possession on Friday. One of the main concerns for Sweden was their inability to possess the ball in their own half without committing high turnovers or seeing their attack break down inside their own half. The United States weren't efficient at turning these high turnovers into good shots and chances, but Japan have proven to be much more efficient at creating high- quality chances in this tournament.
Sweden created a large portion of its chances and goals in the group stage from set plays and dead ball situations, and they're likely to turn to that and direct transitions in Friday's quarterfinal. The United States had 40 attacking penalty area touches compared to just 10 for Sweden. The final shot count was 22-9 in favor of the U.S. and total expected goals were 1.3-0.7 for the Americans per the FBref.com data. It took an excellent shot stopping display from Swedish goalie Zecira Musovic and some poor penalties from the U.S. attackers to advance.
Even though it didn't result in many clear chances against the Americans, Sweden still showed why they are so dangerous on set plays in the match. If not for some excellent play from Alyssa Naeher in goal, Sweden would have been able to produce one or two quality chances from the center of the penalty area. Japan haven't faced a team yet that came into the tournament with Sweden's pre-tournament set piece efficiency.
There's also the potential element of fatigue to consider, as Sweden are playing with one fewer day of rest and had to play an extra 30 minutes plus a stressful and dramatic penalty shootout. Sweden did use four of their subs but the majority of the lineup should be the same for this match.
Japan vs Sweden
The market moved sharply against the United States and toward Sweden in the last match and it actually closed at the exact number this one sits at for the quarterfinal. On current form, it's fair to say that Japan are playing better than the United States at the moment. But you can't just entirely throw out priors based on four matches of data and I feel that the market has overreacted with the Japan love here.
If the Japanese continue to finish their chances at the rate they have this tournament, they'll probably be World Cup champions. But if they regress back at all toward what they were prior to the tournament, Sweden were priced at 18/1 and Japan 33/1 to win it all pre-tournament for a reason.
Sweden will still have a set piece edge. They are comfortable defending without the ball and still have very talented players to attack Japan in transition moments. Japan are rightly favored, but if you can find Sweden at +130 or better to advance, I'm willing to ride with Musovic and this experienced and cohesive Swedish side.