The United States Women’s National Team may just lose their grip on the SheBelieves Cup even if they emerge victorious from their final match of the tournament against Brazil in the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida on Tuesday (8 PM ET, live on FS1).
The US have lifted the SheBelieves Cup in two of the three previous runnings, including in last year’s edition, but are in danger of failing to do so this time around after drawing each of their first two matches, first against Japan and then against England on Saturday.
The latter was an entertaining encounter in the Nissan Stadium in Nashville. The US took the lead through Megan Rapinoe just past the half-hour, only for their opponents to strike straight back to equalize. England then went ahead after the break, only for Tobin Heath to level the scores once more following a goalmouth scramble to leave the final tally at two apiece.
The pair of draws have left the four-team round-robin group looking a bit unfavorable for the US going into the final round of matches. Japan and England top it, on four points apiece, with the US third on two points and Brazil bottom with not a point to their name.
Indeed, competition winners may already have been decided before the US even kick off. A win for either England or Japan in the preceding match at the Raymond James Stadium would see the victor claim the trophy. A draw would, though, open up the opportunity for the US to overtake both on goal difference by defeating Brazil by three goals or more.
That is certainly a result the USWNT should be capable of achieving giving their attacking potency. They have only failed to score once in their last 36 matches, a run stretching back to mid-2017. They have won by three or more goals in 10 of their 20 matches during 2018, including a 4-1 triumph over Brazil in the Tournament of Nations.
Heath and Alex Morgan both scored in that triumph and continue to form an all-star front three with Rapinoe that has provided all four of the team’s goals at the SheBelieves Cup. Attack is certainly an area of strength for the US, but there are issues elsewhere that suggest their path to defending their World Cup trophy successfully in France in the summer will be a trickier one that many seem to assume.
The midfield balance still doesn’t look right. Opponents are able to advance through the centre in transition without facing a great deal of resistance – something that Rapinoe even highlighted after Saturday’s draw – and the best teams will take advantage of that. There has also been a degree of sloppiness in the team’s overall defensive play during this tournament.
Fortunately for Jill Ellis and her side, their final opponents are the weakest in the competition. Brazil are ranked within the top 10 in the world, but defeats to England (1-2) and Japan (1-3) here have continued a broader pattern of poor results over the last seven months or so. In that time, Brazil have lost seven out of eight, albeit all against teams ranked higher than them.
The ease with which Brazil breezed through the women’s Copa America in Chile last year – scoring 31 and conceding just twice in seven straight victories – indicated that they are still fearsome opponents for the majority of teams. There has so far been little to indicate that they are likely to make it beyond the last eight in France this summer.
Brazil’s squad for this tournament includes some names familiar to US audiences, including Marta of the Orlando Pride and Debinha of the North Carolina Courage. It does not, however, feature former Chicago Red Stars forward Cristiane, who was one of a number of players to retire from the national team in protest at Emily Lima being replaced as coach by current (male) incumbent Vadao in 2017.
There are some good players, including the highly-talented Barcelona forward Andressa Alves. There is not the level of depth and quality that they possessed during their run to the final of the 2007 World Cup, where they were defeated by Germany.
Our Betting Preview’s United States Women vs Brazil Women Predictions & Picks Verdict
The US have beaten Brazil in each of their last three meetings, scoring at least three times on each occasion. Even if it ultimately proves fruitless in terms of lifting the trophy, they can nevertheless be expected to record a comfortable victory again on Tuesday.
The sportsbooks for the United States of America market have been hopeless during this women’s soccer tournament at getting their odds out early. Once again, at time of writing, these bookies have not bothered to get their act together. When they do, our USWNT vs Brazil betting prediction would be to bet on United States -2.5 goals on the spread.