New Zealand vs Norway Odds, Prediction, Picks | Women’s World Cup Opening Game Preview
Visionhaus/Getty. Pictured: Ada Hegerberg.
New Zealand vs Norway Odds
|New Zealand Odds||+850|
|Over/Under||2.5 (-175 / +135)|
|Both Teams to Score (Yes/No)||(+110 / -150)|
|Odds via bet365. Get up-to-the-minute World Cup odds here.|
The 2023 Women's World Cup kicks off at 3 a.m. ET on Thursday morning as co-hosts New Zealand faces off against Group A favorite Norway. New Zealand are in the World Cup for the sixth time in their history, but they have never won a match in 15 contests and never progressed from the group stage.
Betting markets are clearly suggesting that New Zealand's winless run on the world's biggest stage will extend to 16 games as Norway are a prohibitive -400 favorite to take all three points. Norway won nine of their 10 qualifying matches in Europe to get to this point and now have a real chance to make a quarterfinal with one of the two easiest groups on paper.
New Zealand qualified automatically as a host nation, but have poor form coming into this match. They have just three goals scored and 22 allowed with one win in nine amongst all matches played in 2023.
New Zealand Seeking a Small Miracle
Scoring goals is going to be a real challenge for New Zealand in this World Cup. While they are likely to win their first ever match against the Philippines and are favored to not finish last in the group for the first time ever, there's a gulf in quality between these two teams on Thursday. New Zealand lost by nine goals on aggregate in two uncompetitive contests with the United States in January. A 5-0 home loss to Portugal and a 2-0 and 1-0 loss at home to Argentina — two teams clearly worse than Norway on paper — doesn't bode well for their chances in this contest.
The squad is also in the midst of two generations at the moment, with most of the players sitting outside the 24-29 peak age range you typically see as the ideal for most teams. There's World Cup experience in the squad, but also major questions about why the last two years have gone so poorly. The defense is anchored by two experienced veterans — 35-year-old captain Ali Riley and 33-year-old center back Ria Percival.
Defensive experience is New Zealand's best hope of slowing down a dynamic and aggressive Norwegian attack that presses high to create direct counter-pressing opportunities. The attack runs almost entirely through the goalscoring prowess of Hannah Wilkinson, who was one of the most prolific scorers down under for Melbourne City.
Norway Looking For Euro Rebound
Norway have had some puzzling results and performances within the last 14 months, starting with a 8-0 drubbing to England at the Euros. Given their talent, it was quite a shock to see them fail to advance to the knockout stage with a final match loss to Austria — who didn't qualify for the World Cup.
They've really challenged themselves from a friendly perspective though, which should be commended. Norway have played Sweden, Spain, England, Brazil, France and the Netherlands in the last calendar year. They've conceded goals and lost games as a result of the difficult fixture list, but it could pay dividends down under. Even with only one win in those six matches — all ranked higher in the women's Elo ratings — Norway should be able to comfortably control the flow of the game in this match.
Norway are not at all a conservative or defensive possession team. They attack vertically and directly and try to break through an opponent's defensive lines. New Zealand's defense could present some real tactical challenges in this contest by sitting really deep and forcing Norway to break down a lower block.
They have played a lot of matches in the underdog role in the last calendar year and won't get as much space in behind to run into now. Norway have Ada Hegerberg — one of the best strikers in the women's game. She has won the Ballon d'Or before and has featured for Lyon.
New Zealand vs Norway Pick
These two teams do have some recent semi-competitive history — Norway won 2-0 in a June 2022 friendly in Oslo. There's not much faith in New Zealand's ability to score goals in this World Cup — especially against both Switzerland and Norway. As much as Norway's games have been open and full of chances, I think more of that had to do with the quality of attacking opposition that this Norway defense faced.
New Zealand haven't scored more than a goal against a truly competitive side in more than a year and the underlying xG data that is available doesn't suggest that goals are coming in the near future. Norway should win this match but I'd bet against a blowout given New Zealand's defensive experience.
I'm betting against goals in the first match of the World Cup because Norway's recent results have created a higher perception of the goal volume in their matches than the reality in a knockout tournament setting like this one.
The Picks: Under 2.5 (+120 or better), Norway win to nil (-115 or better)