Tue, Jul 24, 11:00am by Staff Writer
The Matildas will be back in action this week aiming to defend the Tournament of Nations crown they won last year.
Despite being defending champions, the Matildas are the lowest ranked team according to the FIFA world rankings of the four sides competing, ranked eighth in the world.
They are $6 to repeat their blistering unbeaten run from last year’s event, which included a 6-1 thumping of Brazil.
This year’s tournament follows the same structure as last year’s event, with a three-match round robin tournament against Brazil, the United States and Japan.
The winner of the tournament is the team, which gathers to most points from their three matches, similar to progression through a World Cup.
This year’s event once against takes place in the United States, with Kansas City, East Hartford and Bridgeview the host cities.
The United States are the runaway favourites to win the tournament at $1.60 at Sportsbet.
They are ranked number one in the FIFA world rankings and will use this event as a tune up before the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France.
Led by co-captain Carli Lloyd who has scored 100 goals in 254 appearances for the Stars and Stripes, the United States possess a host of goal-scoring threats which will make defending their side tricky throughout the tournament.
Of the 23 players named in the squad, the six attacking players have scored 239 goals between them in over 700 matches, a testament to their experience.
Australia won’t be afraid of the challenge that lies ahead of them in this tournament, after being underdogs last year and succeeding.
Co-captain Lisa De Vanna will once against lead the line, with Kylah Simon and Sam Kerr providing more attacking punch.
A number of the Matilda’s ply their trade in the National Women’s Soccer League in the United States during the W-League off-season, so fitness or game preparedness won’t be an issue.
Australia begin with a match against Brazil in Kansas City, before a pivotal clash with the United States in Connecticut.
Brazil are ranked seventh in the world, but have not enjoyed recent success against Australia.
The Matilda’s have won three of their past four matches against Brazil, with the only loss being a 7-6 penalty shootout at the Rio Olympics in 2016.
The As Canarinhas are one of the most accomplished teams in women’s football, appearing in seven World Cups.
32-year-old superstar Marta has scored 108 goals for her country in just 121 caps, with the tournament an opportunity to given international berths to a number of inexperienced backline and forward players.
Brazil is $7 to win the Tournament of Nations and the biggest outsider of the four teams in the competition.
Brazil is $2.90 to defeat Australia, with the Matilda’s priced as favourites for the opening match at $2.30. The draw is paying $3.50 at Sportsbet.
Ranked sixth in the world’s rankings, Japan are a team to be wary of heading into this event.
They have faired well in recent internationals, but struggled against more accomplished opposition.
2018 has been a breakout year for the team, who have lost only two matches, both at the Algarve Cup to the Netherlands and Canada.
A 1-0 win in the Asian Cup final in Jordan was a highlight of the 2018 campaign for the Japanese team, with Australia surely out for revenge at this event.
Japan is priced at $6 to win the Tournament of Nations.
It is hard to ignore the value price on the Matilda’s to win the tournament, given they are more than likely to have a strong start against Brazil and will not be short of motivation to beat the United States and Japan.
The 2018 Tournament of Nations begins on Friday, 26 July 2018 at 6.15am AEST.
Best bet- Australia to win the Tournament of Nations at $6
United States $1.62
Brazil $2.90 Draw $3.50 Australia $2.30
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