By Craig Kemp
Last Updated: 7th June 2019
Of the opening group-stage scrimmages at the Women’s World Cup, Australia’s Group C clash with Italy has been priced up as one of the trickiest to call.
While Spain are 1/10 to beat South Africa, Japan 1/20 to see off Argentina, Brazil 1/33 to defeat Jamaica and the USA 1/100 to take three points against Thailand, Australia are just 6/10 to down Italy.
Alternatively, Italy are 19/5 to triumph, with the draw trading at 11/4.
However, of the 215 Australia vs Italy betting markets available, the most sensible play is almost certainly the 4/6 on both teams scoring, particularly given the fragile nature of the two rearguards lining up in Valenciennes.
Australia’s defensive woes
The Australian defence has begun to leak buckets in their final World Cup preparations, conceding five against the USA and then three on two separate occasions to Holland.
Granted these are two of the hottest frontlines at the World Cup, but Italy are not short of firepower either, with the dangerous dribbling of Juventus’ Barbara Bonansea and capabilities of Cristiana Girelli in terms of manipulating opportunities for herself.
Girelli is certainly the most potent goal threat in the Italian ranks and – at 11/5 – is an attractive price to score anytime in the 90 minutes.
Alternatively, Girelli is 7/1 to strike the opener, with free-kick specialist Bonansea 10/1 to open the scoring.
Aussie goalkeeper Lydia Williams has conceded 17 goals in her last 14 games too, in case any further ammunition was required to expect the Italians to find the target.
Italy’s defensive struggles
The Italians certainly operate with an attacking gameplan and Cecilia Salvai, who is comfortably their best central defender, is missing the tournament because of injury.
Italy have failed to keep a clean sheet in any of their last five matches and opponents during that sequence Switzerland, Republic of Ireland and North Korea are lighter in terms of firepower compared to the Australians.
In a tournament where the quality of goalkeeping hasn’t always matched that on display in other areas of the pitch, Italy number one Laura Giuliani is not among the most reliable on display.
This will be music to the ears of Sam Kerr, who is a serious contender in the argument of who is the best female footballer in the world.
At age 25, Kerr is already the top scorer in National Women’s Soccer League history and has scored 12 goals for Australia in the calendar year. She’s 9/1 to be the top tournament goalscorer at the Women’s World Cup.
In terms of this match, Kerr is 21/20 to net in the 90 minutes against Italy and 7/2 to be first goalscorer.