FOOTBALL Preview: U.S. & France co-favorites to win the Women’s World Cup, which starts Friday

If you believe the oddsmakers – and they have been hard at work – then the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup will be decided … in the quarterfinals.

Host France and the United States are co-favored to win the tournament, and if both teams win their groups and their Round of 16 matches, they will meet in the quarterfinals on 28 June at the 48,583-seat Parc des Princes in Paris. The odds to win the tournament:

1. 7/2 United States
2. 7/2 France
3. 11/2 Germany
4. 6/1 England
5. 14/1 Netherlands
6. 14/1 Japan
7. 14/1 Australia
8. 25/1 Spain

The real long-shots are Jamaica and Cameroon at 1,000/1 and Thailand at 1,500/1. But that’s on paper. The groups for the actual games (with FIFA World Rankings):

Group A: France (4), South Korea (14), Norway (12), Nigeria (38)
Group B: Germany (2), China (16), Spain (13), South Africa (49)
Group C: Australia (6), Italy (15), Brazil (10), Jamaica (53)
Group D: England (3), Scotland (20), Argentina (37), Japan (7)
Group E: Canada (5), Cameroon (46), New Zealand (19), Netherlands (8)
Group F: United States (1), Thailand (34), Chile (39), Sweden (9)

In terms of geography, Africa has three teams; Asia has four; Europe has nine; North America and the Caribbean have three, Oceania has two and South America, three.

Group play commences on Friday with France hosting South Korea and continues through 20 June. The playoffs begin on 22 June and continue through the final on 7 July.

The two top teams in each group qualify to the knock-out round, along with the four “best” third-place teams. Based on this, and the playoff bracket already formed, we could see:

Upper bracket:
Round of 16: Norway vs. Brazil; England vs. New Zealand
Round of 16: France vs. Italy; U.S. vs. Spain

Lower bracket:
Round of 16: Australia vs. Korea; Canada vs. Japan
Round of 16: Germany vs. Scotland; Netherlands vs. Sweden

There are also odds on who the top scorer will be and Alex Morgan of the U.S. is the favorite at 6/1, followed by France’s Eugenie Le Sommer (7/1), Vivianne Miedema (NED) at 8/1, then Carli Lloyd of the U.S. at 8/1 and Australia’s Sam Kerr at 8/1.

This is the eighth Women’s World Cup, which started in 1991. The U.S. has won three of the first seven, in 1991-99-2015 (and lost in the 2011 final). Germany won in 2003-07, and Norway (1995) and Japan (2011) have won once each. Worth noting: the U.S. has made it to the semifinals in all seven prior World Cups; next best are Germany (5), Norway (4) and Sweden (3). A team from Africa or Oceania has not yet played in a semi.

Fox has coverage of the Women’s World Cup in the U.S. on both Fox and FS1. The FIFA schedule can be set to show the U.S. channel and your own time zone here.

This should be a great show; we’ll have a deeper look at the tournament in Lane One for Friday. look for results here.