Sweden vs. United States Odds
|United States Odds||-240|
|Over/Under||2.5 (-105 / -120)|
|Day | Time||Wednesday | 4:30 a.m. ET|
|How To Watch||USA Network | fuboTV|
|Odds updated Tuesday night via DraftKings.|
Global powerhouses Sweden and the United States will square off early Wednesday, highlighting the opening day of play in women’s soccer at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
The Americans, ranked No. 1 in the world, enter the Games in the midst of a unbelievable 44-match unbeaten tear and clear front runners to win gold in the 16-team tournament split into four groups of four nations.
However, the USWNT has an old foe standing in front of it via Sweden — ranked fifth overall — and one that had its number at the 2016 Olympics in Brazil. It was there that the Swedes stunned the Americans in the quarterfinals, defeating them on penalty kicks.
Oddsmakers had the USWNT pegged as a -230 favorite early Tuesday before money started trickling in over the course of the day, putting it at -240 via DraftKings as of story publication.
For me, that number is spot on and will probably climb a touch higher before kickoff in the wee hours of the morning on the East coast. And although the USWNT is favored, Sweden has more than held its own against in this rivalry. Most recently, the sides battled to a 1-1 stalemated in Stockholm on April 10.
Let’s take a look at these talented sides and see what could be on deck.
Sweden Always Proves to Be Tough Adversary
Talk about a tough way to start your Olympic campaign.
The Swedes, who literally have no time to work their way into the tournament, have to attempt to either scratch out a result or avoid getting routed in the opener if they want to reach the knockout round. A tight loss wouldn’t be the worst-case scenario for the country, which will be favored in its other group matches against Australia (No. 9 in the world) and 22nd-ranked New Zealand.
Experience is one thing that will help Sweden in this contest, due to the fact nine players have returned from the silver-medal winning side in Rio de Janeiro. That includes standouts midfielders Kosovare Asllani and Caroline Seger, who has amassed a whopping 215 caps in her storied career.
Sweden has a powerful forward group, which includes Sofia Jakobsson, Lina Hurtig and Stina Blackstenius. All of them could pose issues to the USWNT back four if given space to create opportunities on goal.
And unlike so many other teams in the world, the Americans haven’t totally run roughshod over the Swedes of late. Sweden has actually earned six wins and settled for three ties against the USWNT in the last 16 contests, which should tell you this won’t be a walk in the park for the red, white and blue.
Hard to Find Any Weaknesses With United States
If there was a special dictionary put together for these Summer Games, you’d find the American women falling directly under the definition of redemption. And that spells a whole lot of potential bad news for any opponent standing in their path toward gold-medal glory.
To say the 2016 Games in Brazil were a disappointment with be a total understatement. Losing in the quarterfinals to this exact side has undoubtedly put chips on the shoulders of the 18 women that made the U.S. roster, giving them a whole lot of emotional and mental momentum entering this affair.
It might seem as if manager Vlatko Andonovski, who took over for longtime leader Jill Ellis in October of 2019, is gliding along on easy street with the utter embarrassment of riches he has when it comes to his personnel, but putting together his best Starting XI will actually be a challenge.
I fully expect the USWNT to come out in a traditional 4-3-3, with goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher and captain Becky Sauerbrunn leading the defensive core. Sauerbrunn should be paired with Abby Dahlkemper, with Crystal Dunn and Kelley O’Hara handling the wing-back slots.
Just ahead of that quartet will be the strongest part of their lineup, featuring Samantha Mewis, Rose Lavelle and Lindsey Horan. Bottom line, this might be the best midfield trio in the world.
Up top, standout Christen Press will likely start alongside veterans Megan Rapinoe and Carli Lloyd. What’s crazy is the fact I wouldn’t start either with Press against Sweden, instead targeting Tobin Heath and Alex Morgan. That depth “problem” is something any manager would love to have, so Andonovski really has a murderer’s row of strikers at his disposal.
Betting Analysis & Pick
The Americans are 7-3-6 (W-L-D) in the last 16 meetings between these combatants, with seven of the the last eight contests ending in either a draw or one-goal win for one of the outfits. Bottom line, these are the kind of close results you’d expect when two of the five best teams in the world square off.
However, the USWNT clearly has the edge entering this match. The Americans have so much depth, even with Heath, Morgan and Julie Ertz — the veteran defender coming off a knee injury — not in the starting lineup.
That being said, I’m going to avoid the USWNT on the moneyline and any Asian handicap wager, instead backing it to score at least two goals at -160 odds as my top pick. I wouldn’t play it any higher than this number, so you could hold off and make this a live play if that’s a risk you think is worth taking in this spot.
If you’re looking for player props, I’m playing Press to score anytime at +120 odds. I’m going to bet on her to score the first or last goal at +180 as well. The Stanford product, who will earn her 150th cap in this match, has 63 goals and 42 assists in her USWNT account.
I really expect the Swedes to have issues containing Press, with the likelihood of her best chances coming when the electric Heath comes on as a substitute for Lloyd or Rapinoe in the second half.
Pick: USWNT Team Total Over 1.5 Goals (-160) | Christen Press To Score Anytime (+120) & To Score First Or Last Goal (+180)
Futures Pick: USWNT To Win Gold (-165 or better)
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