Women's World Cup 2019: Latest Odds, Expert Predictions, Schedule Heading into round of 16

The U.S. women's national team (USWNT) reasserted its credentials as favorite to win the World Cup with a 2-0 win over Sweden in the final game of the group stage.

A 2-0 win in the Group F finale on Thursday might not have atoned for the defeat against Sweden in the quarter-finals of the 2016 Olympics, but it confirmed the Americans remain the outfit to beat.

The defending champions finished the group stage with a 100 percent record, scoring 18 goals—a World Cup record—and conceding none.

Impressive as that sounds, the U.S. will face much harder challenges over the remainder of the tournament, beginning with the round of 16 tie against Spain on Monday.

Should they progress to the quarter-finals, the Americans could potentially have to beat France, England and Germany to claim a fourth World Cup.

In other words, they could have to play the three teams immediately below them in the world rankings.

In theory at least, losing to Sweden would have presented the U.S. with an easier path and it would have prevented them from potentially facing France in the quarter-finals.

USWNT, 2019 World Cup
Tobin Heath of USA celebrates after scoring her team's second goal with her teammates the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup France group F match between Sweden and USA at Stade Oceane on June 20 in Le Havre, France. Quality Sport Images/Getty

Coach Jill Ellis, however, insisted winning always took the priority over long-term permutations.

"It's a good performance and we wanted to continue to build momentum," she said in a press conference after the game against Sweden. "We have things to work on to make sure we're sharper next game, and the players know that. It was a rival game and I thought the players showed a great mentality."

While USWNT will have to wait until Monday for its round of 16 game, the knockout stage begins on Saturday when Norway faces Australia in Nice, followed by Germany vs Nigeria in Grenoble.

On Sunday, France takes on Brazil in Le Havre and England plays Cameroon in Valenciennes. Sweden and Canada play each other on Monday, while Netherlands vs Japan and Italy vs China complete the picture on Tuesday.

What the experts say

Roger Gonzalez—CBS Sports

USWNT cruised through the groups, scoring a World Cup record 18 goals and conceding none. The only sour note of the game against Sweden were injuries to Julie Ertz and Alex Morgan, which could have an impact on the remainder of the tournament.

"Without either, the U.S. should still have more than enough to advance to the quarterfinals, but we'll have to wait and see what their status is."

Grant Wahl—Sports Illustrated

After a relatively easy group, things are going to get a lot tougher for the U.S., with a potential quarter-final against France looming large.

"The U.S. defense can feel good for now that it went through an entire Women's World Cup group stage without conceding a goal for the first time ever," Wahl wrote.

"But the Americans are also well aware that the degree of difficulty has been low so far, and it's about to go sky high very soon."

Tom Hamilton—ESPN FC

Australia looked down and out halfway through its second game but managed to qualify with six points. Hamilton believes the Matildas shouldn't be underestimated.

"The Matildas have one of the world's finest players in Sam Kerr, and if Ellie Carpenter is playing well, the whole team follows suit," he wrote.

"The Matildas started poorly with their defeat to Italy, but they are building nicely and will hope to continue this crescendo as the knockout stages progress."

Natalie Gedra—ESPN Brazil

Like Hamilton, Gedra believes Australia could spark a surprise in the knockout stage.

"The Matildas are a top group of players with relevant experience in big tournaments. Plus, when they have Sam Kerr on a good day, they are pretty hard to catch—just ask Jamaica."

Alistair Magowan—BBC Sport

One of the favorite picks for the medals, England topped the group with a 100 percent record. However, there were warning signs against Scotland and Japan, when performances tailed off badly in the second half.

"England's powerful team have shown glimpses of the style [coach Phil] Neville craves—plus the substance to get the job done," Magowan said.

"But every step England take is new territory for their manager and the challenge is only likely to increase."

Updated odds

A 3/1 favorite before the tournament, USWNT remains the bookmakers' choice to lift the World Cup at 6/4, followed by France at 7/2 and Germany at 13/2.

England and the Netherlands are 8/1 and 14/1, respectively, while Australia is 18/1 and Canada is a 20/1 outsider.

Round of 16 schedule (All times ET)

Saturday, June 22

  • Germany vs. Nigeria—11:30 a.m. FS1
  • Norway vs. Australia—3 p.m. Fox

Sunday, June 23

  • England vs. Cameroon—11:30 a.m. FS1
  • France vs. Brazil—3 p.m. Fox

Monday, June 24

  • Spain vs. United States—12 p.m. FS1
  • Sweden vs. Canada—3 p.m. FS1

Tuesday, June 25

  • Italy vs. China—12 p.m. FS1
  • Netherlands vs. Japan—3 p.m. FS1
Women's World Cup 2019: Latest Odds, Expert Predictions, Schedule Heading into round of 16 | Sports