The defending World Cup champions USA Women will attempt to book their place in the knockout stages when they lock horns with Portugal Women at Eden Park on Tuesday morning (08.00).
USWNT will be hoping for a much-improved performance after drawing 1-1 with the Netherlands last time out and they only need a draw to advance to the knockout round, but will likely require victory to have a shot at topping the group.
Portugal are no slouches however, despite playing in their first Women’s World Cup tournament, and knowing they will likely need a win to have a chance at qualifying for the knockout stages, the European side will throw everything they have at the U.S.
Fatima Pinto missed Portugal’s win over Vietnam with a knee problem, and she is expected to remain sidelined for the final group match.
The USA forwards struggled mightily against the Netherlands in their last Group E match, so it’s possible that Vlatko Andonovski will make changes up front, with Lynn Williams and Alyssa Thompson the likely candidates to be rotated in.
USA to win and under 2.5 goals @ 7/4
The United States have been poor up front through this tournament, but even against the Netherlands where they didn’t have close to their best, they managed an equalising goal to earn themselves a point.
USWNT have plenty of experience and knowhow at this level, so I believe they will win their final group game, although I do not see it being a high-scoring affair.
The US have, quite simply, looked poor up front so far in this tournament. Despite boasting supreme talent and depth, the front three of Sophia Smith, Alex Morgan, and Trinity Rodman have not been sharp in the final third.
Finishing was the primary issue against Vietnam in the opener, but creativity suffered against the Dutch last time out, and they are coming up against a Portugal that that shut out England in a summer friendly, and held the Netherlands to just one goal, so chances will be few and far between.
Rose Lavelle to score in 90 minutes @ 23/10
Lavelle has made an impact in both matches for the USA so far, so I think 23/10 is a decent price for her to score anytime against Portugal.
She set up Lindsey Horan’s equaliser against the Netherlands and looks to be the biggest game-changer that USWNT have.
Whether she’s inducted into the starting XI or not remains to be seen, but I can see her getting on the scoresheet regardless.