England are the new favourites to win the Women’s World Cup 2023 but they must not underestimate Nigeria in this last-16 clash.
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England vs Nigeria predictions
As the knockout stage gets set to begin this weekend, England find themselves in an unfamiliar position: the favourites to win the Women’s World Cup.
Ranked joint-second in the bookmakers’ lists prior to the big kick-off, the Lionesses are now considered the likeliest winners of the tournament in Australia and New Zealand.
That is in part down to the USA’s stumbles. The reigning champions only finished second in their group after winning just one of their first three matches.
But England’s new-found status as the team to beat is also reflective of the progress they have made throughout Sarina Wiegman’s time in charge.
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Being favourites can be a double-edged sword, however. England could soon become the side to be shot at, particularly if the USA were to be eliminated by Sweden on Sunday.
It is worth remembering, too, that there were plenty of grumblings following the team’s first two matches at this summer’s competition. Back-to-back 1-0 victories over Haiti and Denmark were widely seen as unconvincing.
The mood has improved since a 6-1 thumping of China on matchday three of the group stage, but it would be a mistake to think England are guaranteed a place in the quarter-finals.
Indeed, Nigeria will have something to say about that as they seek to claim a major scalp in the round of 16.
This promises to be a fascinating encounter in Brisbane, as England and Nigeria prepare to meet at the Women’s World Cup for the first time since the 1995 edition in Sweden.
England vs Nigeria betting tips
Nigeria will put up a good fight but England may have too much quality for their opponents on Monday.
England/England half-time/full-time – 10/11 (bet365)
England were below par in their opening encounter in Australia, a 1-0 win against Haiti in which they could easily have dropped a couple of points.
An improved display followed against Denmark, but Wiegman’s women took their foot off the gas in the second half of that match and were almost punished.
But the manner of the victory over China served as a reminder of what a dangerous team England can be when they are on it.
China are not the force they once were, but nor are they minnows in the women’s game. And yet they were made to look that way by an England team that ran riot at the Hindmarsh Stadium in Adelaide.
Some of England’s attacking play was irresistible, but they will surely not find it so easy to breach a Nigeria backline which kept clean sheets against Canada and the Republic of Ireland in Group B.
Still, it is notable that the Lionesses have made quick starts in all three of their games to date, finding the back of the net six times in the first half.
If they were to again get their noses in front inside the first 45 minutes here, Nigeria would be up against it.
Under 2.5 goals – 17/20 (bet365)
Nigeria’s key result in the group stage was a 3-2 defeat of Australia which sent shockwaves through the rest of the tournament.
The co-hosts recovered to demolish Canada 4-0 and win Group B, but at that stage it looked like they might be headed for an early exit.
Whatever happens from here, the victory over Australia will be celebrated in Nigeria for years to come.
The Super Falcons were brave in that match, refusing to just sit back and allow the Australians to control proceedings.
But although they hit three goals past the Matildas, Nigeria failed to find the net against either Canada or the Republic of Ireland.
Two 0-0 draws in those matches were sufficient to seal their place in the round of 16, but a failure to score against England would almost certainly send Randy Waldrum’s team home.
Nigeria will nevertheless be focused first and foremost on keeping things tight at the back, while England will not want to go gung-ho either.
There are no second chances now that we have reached the knockout phase of the tournament, so this may well be a cagey affair.
Bear in mind, too, that four of the six games these two teams have contested up to now featured one or zero goals.
Lauren James to score any time – 2/1 (bet365)
With an abundance of attacking options at Wiegman’s disposal, Lauren James did not make the cut for England’s first game of the tournament against Haiti. Two weeks later and she is now the first name on the team sheet.
James scored the vital winner against Denmark on matchday two, before notching a brace in the 6-1 victory over China last time out.
The Chelsea winger is playing the best football of her international career at the perfect time, and she will be the main player Nigeria try to shut down on Monday.
That is easier said than done, of course, particularly when James is in such irrepressible form.
Her confidence is sky-high and she will fancy her chances of extending her scoring streak as England seek to reach the quarter-finals.
How to watch England vs Nigeria
- Location: Lang Park, Brisbane, Australia.
- Date and time: Monday 7 August 2023, 8.30am.
- How to watch: BBC One, BBC iPlayer.
About the author
Greg Lea is a freelance football writer from London. He predominantly covers the Premier League and has had work published by the Guardian, FourFourTwo, ESPN and others.
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