After romping through the group stage of the Women’s World Cup, United States take on Spain in the last 16 at the Stade Auguste-Delaune in Reims, France (12pm ET Monday, live on FS1).
The reigning champions made light work of a relatively easy group, thrashing Thailand 13-0 in their opener and then recording further wins to nil over Chile (3-0) and Sweden (2-0) to advance as group winners, as they had in six of their previous seven World Cup appearances.
There were some signs in the last of those matches against Sweden on Thursday that as we get further into the competition, the very few weaknesses the United States have will start to become more of a concern. It was an assertive display and a relatively comfortable victory once Lindsey Horan had put them ahead early on, but there were some caveats.
Sweden made seven changes to their starting XI and rested some of their key players. The US also made seven changes, but that was largely to restore their first-choice side after numerous rotations in the previous win over Chile. Despite what was, on paper, an inferior selection of players, Sweden were able to progress into some good positions, albeit without always getting a shot off having done so.
The USA are an awesome team in most respects, with an attack strong enough to outscore all but the very best opponents and talented players in the large majority of positions. They are not a team who lose many internationals, even against strong opposition. They have lost just one of their last 41 matches (since a 0-1 defeat to Australia in July 2017) and in that time they have won 11 (and drawn five) of their 17 matches against top-10 teams.
There have been occasions when they have either failed to win or have been required to score a lot of goals to do so due to the difficulties they have in stopping good teams from advancing forward in transitional phases of play. They have posted results such as 2-2 draws with England and Japan, 5-3, 4-3 and 4-2 wins over Australia, Brazil and Japan respectively, and a 1-3 defeat to France, their likely quarter-final opponents, in January of this year.
Jill Ellis’ side will, then, be grateful for a last 16 tie against a team whose attacking play is rarely built around dangerous counter-attacks.
Spain do not have an illustrious history in women’s football, but they have made great strides in recent years and have established themselves as a consistent top-15 team in the FIFA rankings. After failing at the group stage in their World Cup debut in Canada four years ago, a win over South Africa and a draw with China were enough to see them make it through to the knockouts this time around, second behind Germany in Group B.
The team play in a typically Spanish style, combining patient possession play with a well-organised high press to win the ball back quickly once lost. Their defensive numbers from the group stage were very solid, particularly given the relative strength of their opponents. They ran second-ranked Germany very close in a 0-1 defeat in their second match.
If Spain are lacking anything, it is a cutting edge up front, as they have only scored once in open play to date (two of their three goals against South Africa came from penalties). They racked up 68 shots across their three group-stage matches, but too many of them were low-quality chances. Just through sheer volume, they probably should have scored one or two more, but volume is something that they are likely to struggle to generate against the USWNT.
Our Betting Preview’s U.S. Women vs Spain Predictions & Picks Verdict
In many ways, Spain represent ideal opponents for Jill Ellis’ side. They are good enough to provide a solid workout prior to a potentially tournament-deciding quarter-final against the host nation. The US are well-placed to deal with their strengths and Spain don’t really have the tools to take full advantage of what small chinks do exist in their armor.
The United States can therefore be expected to record a relatively comfortable victory to progress to the last eight. With regards our battles with the United States’ online betting sites, here are our USA vs Spain predictions for this last 16 match preview:
- Bet on USWNT -1.5 goals on the spread @ +125 with Bovada Sportsbook.