Zambia vs Japan Odds, Pick | Women’s World Cup Preview
Soccrates Images/Getty. Pictured: Hiraku Naomoto.
Zambia vs Japan Odds
|Over/Under||2.5 (-300 / +240)|
|Both Teams to Score (Yes/No)||(-163 / +120)|
|Odds via bet365. Get up-to-the-minute World Cup odds here.|
Japan and Zambia meet for their opening match of Group C, which will be crucial for either's chance at getting out of this group at the Women's World Cup.
Zambia are making their World Cup debut this year after a great run in the Africa Cup of Nations. The have been put in a difficult group with two top teams in the women's game, but they do possess some talent playing at the club level in Spain that can give Japan some problems in this opening match.
Japan are a really interesting team coming into this World Cup. They’ve been the best team in Asia for a long time, but teams like China and Australia are now starting to pass them, especially considering they were bounced by China in the AFC Cup semis in 2022. However, Japan have loads of talent and experience playing against top sides in the lead up to this World Cup and will be a very difficult team to knock out.
Zambia Have Clear Tactical Style
Zambia play a very fast and direct style of play, and they are perfectly fine not having the ball. They made it all the way to the Africa Cup of Nations semifinals before losing to the eventual champion South Africa, which allowed them to qualify for their first ever World Cup.
In terms of talent comparatively to Japan, they are not even close. Most of their players are plying domestically in Zambia, but they have two strikers in Grace Chanda and Racheal Kundananji who play for Madrid CFF, who finished fifth in Liga F this season. Kundananji bagged 25 goals and finished second in the Golden Boot race in Spain, so even though this Zambia team may not have a lot of talent around the pitch, their striking duo can cause some problems.
Zambia's build up play is not necessarily long balls, but rather a lot of ball circulation and then vertical passes to eventually get the ball to their two forwards as quickly as possible. Kundananji will occasionally drop to play the right midfield role to be more of a creator that allows Barbra Banda to be in the striking partnership with Chanda.
Defensively, Zambia prefer a low block in their 4-4-2 as opposed to a mid-block and commit a lot of players in and around the box. While they don’t press in the middle of the pitch they often send their fullbacks out wide to press to try and win the ball and get a counterattack going in the flanks. They have had some decent results in the lead up to this World Cup, but Japan are going to be a really tough test for them.
Japan Maintain Flexible Approach
Japan are a well-versed attacking side that can play a blend of a couple of different styles given the opponent they’re facing. They stick with a 5-4-1 formation with the fullbacks pushing high up the pitch to create a good build up shape that gives them passing options through the middle and out wide. They can be a tika taka team to play through a team's pressure, but they can also be very direct in playing long balls over the top to evade pressure.
The key is Japan’s off-ball movement to be able to get those passing options. They have fantastic midfielders in Manchester City’s Yui Hasegawa and Liverpool’s Fūka Nagano.
Out of possession, like the Japanese men's team, the women press with crazy intensity, ranking near the top of this women’s World Cup field in PPDA. However, they are not what I would call an “all-out” pressing team. They typically like to allow teams to have possession and then set pressing traps to win the ball off them and look to play on the counter. They are not a very physical team, so they do tend to rely on this organized pressing because they don’t have a lot of ball winning.
Even when they win the ball pack from their pressing, they aren’t immediately this quick strike counterattacking style team. If they’re playing a low block team or a team they know they can control a lot of possession against, they will often try to slowly build up after winning the ball. So, they can set up a number of different ways against Zambia.
Zambia vs Japan Pick
Zambia are going to be a tough out in this tournament because of the results they put in recent friendlies. They lost 3-2 to Ireland, but won the xG battle 2.11 to 1.53. They drew 3-3 with Switzerland, but won the xG battle 1.73 to 1.2. Most impressive of all was a win over one of the tournament favorites Germany, 3-2. Combine that with the attacking talent of Chanda and Kundananji and they are going to be a tough team to stop going forward.
Japan, however, possess a style that can be possession-dominant team to build out of the back against a passive team like Zambia. They showed that throughout the Asian Cup and friendlies, but Japan can also beat you by playing a very direct style. They have been a bit shaky defensively, particularly when if their press isn't effective.
So, I think we'll see a very back and forth encounter with both sides having plenty of chances in front of net. I like the both teams to score price.
The Pick: Both Teams to Score (-124 via FanDuel)