The U.S. women’s national team take on Sweden in Brasilia, with a place in the semifinals of the Olympics soccer tournament the prize for the winners (12pm ET Friday).
The United States progressed to the last eight of the competition by finishing top of Group G after two wins and a draw. Their campaign at the Games got off to the perfect start, with New Zealand beaten 2-0 at the Mineirao in Belo Horizonte last week. They followed up with victory against France as coach Jill Ellis’ side recorded a slender 1-0 triumph at the same venue.
The six points obtained from those games ensured the United States qualified for the knockout stage of the tournament before their final group encounter with Colombia, which ended in a 2-2 draw at the Arena da Amazonia in Manaus. Things could have been even better for the gold medal favourites, who led 2-1 for the final half an hour of play and would have secured maximum points were it not for Catalina Usme’s dramatic equaliser in the 90th minute of the match. Despite their performance being a little below par, Team USA had already done what was needed and had at least half an eye on this quarterfinal.
Sweden only narrowly progressed to this stage of the competition by finishing third in Group E and thus qualifying as one of two best third-placed nations. They began with a 1-0 win over South Africa at the Estadio Olímpico Joao Havelange in Rio de Janeiro, but that high point was followed by a 5-1 thrashing at the hands of hosts Brazil that piled the pressure on Pia Sundhage’s women ahead of their final fixture against China.
A goalless draw at the Estadio Nacional Mane Garrincha in Brasilia was ultimately enough for the Swedes to advance to the knockout rounds of the competition. The fact that they only finished third in the group means they have been handed this extremely difficult tie against the United States. The U.S. won gold at the Olympic Games in Atlanta in 1996, Athens in 2004, Beijing in 2008 and London in 2012 and are the reigning world champions following their triumph in Canada last summer.
An interesting subplot in this game is the fact that Sundhage used to manage USWNT between 2008 and 2012, and will be keen to get one over on her former employers. The 56-year-old won two golds in charge of the Americans but was unable to emerge victorious at the 2011 World Cup in Germany, when Japan caused an upset by beating her team 3-1 on penalties in the final after a 2-2 draw in regular play.
Our Preview’s USWNT v Sweden Betting Picks Predictions
Taking everything into account, it is very difficult for this preview to look past a rather comfortable win for the United States on Friday afternoon. The bookies agree with that prediction, with USWNT at best betting odds of -255 on the moneyline with 5Dimes Sportsbook.
Sweden are a decent side and are not ranked number six in the world for nothing. They have the talent to take advantage if the Americans head into the match in complacent mood, but they have been rather underwhelming in Brazil so far and will probably find it difficult to contain Ellis’ charges.
With that in mind, the best betting pick for this match looks to be a 3-0 United States win, and expect veteran captain Carli Lloyd (pictured) to get on the scoresheet. However there are no betting lines on that latter option at the time of writing this preview.
Sweden will have to drastically improve upon their Group E showings if they are to stand a chance in Brasilia, but the United States will probably prove too strong for their European opponents anyway.
Here are two alternative betting picks, the second one being a slightly safer prediction than the first: