The primary theme for the Women’s World Cup final to be played Sunday between Spain and England in Sydney, Australia, is resiliency.
Both sides are in the World Cup final for the first time, with England looking to add a second major trophy alongside last year’s European Championship. The Lionesses entered this tournament a wounded contender, missing Beth Mead, Fran Kirby, and Leah Williamson through injury. But new stars have emerged as England outlasted Nigeria on penalties after playing extra time down a woman, rallied past Colombia in the quarterfinals, and then saw off determined co-host Australia in the semis.
Spain’s adversity was more internal, as coach Jorge Vilda had to repair a fractured locker room after a large portion of the club went public with criticism of him and the program. La Roja came to Australia and New Zealand without key players as part of the fallout, but Spain has been the best offensive team in this tournament with 17 goals despite being waxed 4-0 by Japan in group play.
Oddsmakers have pegged Spain a narrow favorite, be it to lift the trophy or in three-way betting, and there are plenty of markets for wagering options that offer the potential for nice payouts.
The teams met in last year’s Euro quarterfinals, with England rallying to a 2-1 victory in extra time en route to that title. Alessia Russo pulled the Lionesses level in the 84th minute before Georgia Stanway struck six minutes into the first 15-minute extra period. England has won six of the 11 all-time matches between the sides, with Spain claiming three victories and the teams splitting the points the other two occasions.
Paralluelo or Putellas in attack?
SHE'S A TEENAGER, SHE'S A JOY TO WATCH, SHE'S A PHENOMENON, SHE'S SALMA PARALLUELO 🇪🇸 pic.twitter.com/DO8bUdT8qD
— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) August 15, 2023
One of the complaints leveled against Vilda and his staff by the players included “insufficient preparation for matches.” Yet Spain, a -110 favorite at PointsBet to lift the trophy and a +170 three-way option at FanDuel, Caesars Sportsbook, and BetRivers to win in 90 minutes, has looked far more dangerous in recent knockout round matches by bringing teenage starlet Salma Paralluelo off the bench.
The 19-year-old Barcelona striker bagged the match-winner in the quarterfinals versus the Dutch and scored the opening goal against Sweden in the semis, giving Vilda a potential selection headache to start her over Alexia Putellas. Despite the likelihood of coming off the bench, sportsbooks have noted her goal-scoring prowess and rate Paralluelo a bigger threat to score than Putellas. Paralluello can be grabbed at +350 at BetRivers for an anytime goal, with PointsBet offering +330, while the best play for Putellas is +450 at PointsBet and +410 at BetRivers.
While that pair gets a considerable amount of attention, La Roja’s co-leaders in goals at this tournament are Jennifer Hermoso, Alba Redondo, and Aitana Bonmati with three goals apiece. Hermoso is a +350 option at BetRivers to find the back of the net and can be taken at +300 at DraftKings and BetMGM. BetRivers’ +390 play for Redondo is significantly higher than any other book, while FanDuel’s +650 for Bonmati is a similar outlier.
James set to return after two-match ban
⚽ "The support for women's football right now is crazy and as it should be, and it' so nice to see."
England Forward, Alessia Russo speaks about the fans ahead of the World Cup Final on Sundayhttps://t.co/PAiZ4D1jU3
📺 Sky 501, Virgin 602, Freeview 233 and YouTube pic.twitter.com/kCLcifL8Nz
— Sky News (@SkyNews) August 18, 2023
England manager Sarina Wiegman, the first to lead two different countries to the Women’s World Cup final after doing so with the Netherlands four years ago, also has a lineup quandary to solve. Lauren James (+460 at BetRivers, +425 at PointsBet to score) is eligible for the final after serving a two-match suspension for stamping a Nigeria player late in England’s Round of 16 match. The Chelsea forward is a +230 option at FanDuel to either score a goal or get booked.
James is tied with Russo (+290 at BetRivers) and Lauren Hemp (+400 at PointsBet) for the team lead with three goals, but Wiegman may not want to mess with a good thing following England’s win over the Matildas. Hemp snapped a deadlock with an opportunistic goal in the 71st minute before Russo sealed the win with four minutes remaining.
England, which can be taken at +190 at BetRivers in three-way action, has been plenty potent offensively with 13 goals in its six matches. Rachel Daly has a wide spread in the anytime goal-scoring markets, available at +500 at BetMGM but for less than half that amount at Betfred (+230). Ella Toone, who got the start in James’ absence, is a +500 play at PointsBet
Some markets to ponder
Oddsmakers are expecting a cagey affair with few goals. Hard Rock Bet is the best option to buck that trend, as it is offering +160 for over 2.5 goals, followed by +150 at Betfred, DraftKings, FanDuel, and Caesars. PointsBet is the best place for the under at -170, notably better than DraftKings (-185).
The relatively even matchup makes the “both teams to score” play an intriguing option. The yes play on BTTS is best at PointsBet at +115, followed by Caesars and Hard Rock Bet. Those expecting a clean sheet by one team are best served by DraftKings, which is offering -115.
Those who are pondering a repeat of England winning in extra time can make that play at +1250 at BetMGM. It also has the best value for Spain for that option at +1200, along with Caesars. Bettors nervy enough to think the match will go all the way to penalties can grab either England or Spain at +850 at BetMGM and England at +850 at FanDuel.