Women’s World Cup: Opening Match Odds and Predictions for France vs Korea

Women's Fifa Championship Trophy and Stadium

Sportsbook bosses delegate their human resources in direct relationship to how much money a market is bringing in. Notice that the odds for a match are changing all the time, almost hour-to-hour? That means there’s a whole lot of action…and the bookmakers are trying like heck to balance it.

I’m interested to see if there’s more action, and therefore more pre-kickoff line-movement, for the opening matches in France than for the rest of the Women’s World Cup round-robin.

Sometimes I think tournament betting ebbs and flows throughout the course of an event because, as Mitch Hedberg once said, it’s like pancakes – at first it’s all exciting and then later you’re tired of it. Yet we also know that everyone who plans to bet individual matches throughout an event is optimistic going in, and then about 50% of those people will have lost-out on their initial flurry of bets as FIFA’s Group State gets going over the weekend. That makes that group a little less likely to buy-in again.

Early action on the 1st official underdog (in a fixture) of France ’19 is causing the Las Vegas lines to look just a little funny, especially when you compare the numbers across soccer betting sites.

South Korea is no slouch. Some of the opening-game gambling lines on the Korean women’s squad – a 14-to-1 wager to win Group A – may involve an under-valuing of France’s formidable opponent this Friday in Paris.

Certainly, the French are hopeful of a hot start in front of screaming host-supporters. Winning this World Cup would give France the Men’s and Women’s World Cup hardware at the same time, the only nation in history to ever accomplish the feat.

But I’m not in love with the vibe around Les Bleues right now. The French manager may have invited trouble by not inviting a wunderkind who could have made a difference at the event.

Instead of lifting the trophy as their male counterparts did last summer, Team France could wind up paralleling a far-less fortunate soccer powerhouse…one which suffered round-robin doom in Russia.

France vs Korea: Strangely Differing Odds on Friday’s Underdog

You don’t often see an online sportsbook halve or double the payoff promises of another for the same outcome in the same market.

But look at the opening-match odds for France vs South Korea…and thar’ she blows.

Bovada Sportsbook is offering an immense (+1900) payoff on the Koreans’ moneyline, and (+600) odds on a Draw result. MyBookie has the 14th-ranked team in the world at (+1700) or so to win on Friday.

Presumably, the odds at BetOnline began with similar numbers – I didn’t check. “Game Lines” haven’t really been out that long for the Women’s World Cup anyway. But look at what a few short days of betting action appears to have done to the lines.

The spreads at Sportsbetting.ag, Bovada and MyBookie are all similar at (+2) for Korea with the house taking a much, much bigger % from wagers on the host-favorites to cover. That’s pretty typical. What isn’t common is that Sportsbetting.ag’s moneyline on the Koreans is just (+875), meaning that gamblers have jumped all over the AFC upstart’s to-win market.

Or is it a high-rolling shark? If there were a lot of betting touts, posts on social media, and other indicators of a “trend” of gamblers taking the ‘dog against France in the opening fixture, there would certainly be a parallel trend of the moneyline shrinking at various betting sites.

And of course, in that scenario the Sportsbetting.ag goal spread would likely change too. No, I think someone – with the help of a few hands – has placed sizable funds on Korea at BetOnline. Either that, or the book is trying to lure gamblers into taking the market, convinced France will have a hot start in Paris. As always, winners of that cat-and-mouse contest will be determined by the outcome on the pitch.

I’m taking the longest line on Korea-to-win that I can get, and I’m also strongly considering the (+107) market on Korea-to-cover (+2) at Sportsbetting.ag.

To help you understand why, here’s a look at some not-so-optimistic developments with the French team.

Katoto Conundrum

Marie Antoinette Katoto

One of the best potential stories of the Women’s World Cup could turn out to be a dud. The hosts might have made the same error as Nationalelf last summer.

I have to break a rule of respect and courtesy to explain.

Announcers are a crashing boor when they constantly compare and relate a women’s international team to the players’ male counterparts in the same sport. “Well, Bob, that was a great goal by Alex Morgan to win another World Cup for the United States, but did I forget to mention that Morgan’s 12th cousin Petronella is married to Pontius Picklefeather, a forward who scored 2 goals in 300 games in a Spanish men’s league…” Yeah, that’s what everyone wants to hear about, buddy.

Good sports reporting doesn’t involve relating women’s teams to men’s teams unless there’s a prescient reason to do so.

But the plight of the French headed into this World Cup reminds me of the controversy around Germany, manager Joachim Löw, and Leroy Sané headed into last year’s World Cup in Russia. So the French women’s team relates to the German men’s team, not because men’s sports are more important than distaff sports, but because the 2 national squads are going through the same type of ordeal about 12 months apart.

French manager Corrine Diacre has left Ligue 1’s leading goal-scorer Marie-Antoinette Katoto off the roster, in what could prove to be a fatal distraction for the Group Stage and beyond.

Diacre has given a mish-mash of reasoning to the media, hinting to reporters that the 20-year-old sensation is not 100% “focused” and must “decide what she wants.” In reality the coach and the newcomer probably just don’t get along behind the scenes.

It’s the wrong way to handle a controversial new toy for the national brand, as shown by Germany’s miserable performance in Russia once Löw took a decisive stand against including the Man City attacker on his FIFA roster.

Ironically enough, the Germans lost to…you guessed it…South Korea to end their disappointing World Cup campaign in ’18.

German Soccer Team

There were other factors involved in Germany’s woeful 1-2 record in the round-robin. But the stubborn decision impacted the program’s momentum at the worst time.

Coach K, who dealt with massive egos and billionaires (and hot-shot scorers in their early 20s) while rebuilding Team USA basketball into a dynamo, would tell Diacre that her job is to welcome Katoto and then allow the kid’s teammates to help lay down the law prior to the 3 upcoming Group A games at the Women’s World Cup. There’s no rule that says you have to play someone all the time just because they’re in your roster of 23. You can discipline or dismiss a talented newcomer during the dance if things get bad, but to not invite them to take part at all is less rational.

Especially when you look at the ol’ film reel.

Katoto might get lazy on the pitch, pout in the dressing room, or even buy Imagine Dragons records – that’s all evidence of her being 20 years old. Katato not being on the pitch with Team France is evidence of a skipper putting herself above the team. By not selecting her, Diacre has created an alibi for losing, a “what if” proposition before her squad can even step on the pitch.

That puts the World Cup hosts at a psychological disadvantage and could open the door for an upstart like South Korea in Group A.

Analyzing a David vs Goliath Fixture

As outlined in LegitGamblingSites.com’s 6-Group Women’s World Cup preview, South Korea is a dangerous underdog thanks to the squad’s midfield, led by Ji So-yun and Cho So-hyun.

But make no mistake – France is the true favorite on Friday, not an imaginary powerhouse invented by bookmakers.

Not only do the French have veteran Eugénie Le Sommer in place to provide scoring punch, but they’ve got an excellent backline, and goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi is an institution on the national stage.

When France met Korea at the Women’s World Cup in 2015, the favorites won easily 3-0 behind a pair of tallies from Marie-Laure Delie, a veteran who has appeared to step-aside for youngsters less heralded than Kakoto, such as 20-year-old forward Emelyne Laurent from the Lyon system.

But South Korea is still the type of organized, scrappy squad that could score an upset by frustrating the French with steals and counter-play. Like El Tricolor’s upset of Germany in Russia, such an outcome is likely to occur in an opening match where nerves are rampant.

The opening odds were likely based in-part on long-time keeper Kim Jung-mi having suffered an Achilles injury and missing the event in France, but replacement Kang Ga-ae has been solid in friendlies.

Predictions and Best Bet for France-Korea on Friday

I’ve looked deeper into reports on the opening odds for this match, and it appears that South Korea opened as a near 25-to-1 underdog at some sportsbooks. That means you can wager 4 dollars and make a Benjamin if the team beats a troubled French side in Paris on Friday.

Jeepers. Too bad we didn’t get in on that racket.

The (+1900) line on the ‘dog at Bovada Sportsbook is still a value pick, but when choosing a gamble on this match, it’s also important to consider whether you’re planning to bet on fixtures throughout the FIFA tournament.

Even if South Korea is a terrific pick at 19-to-1, chances are that the market will lose. Which is more important, the payoff or the chances? The Koreans’ real chances to win are probably twice as good as their odds, but the real probability of the underdog covering (+2) goals is too sweet to ignore.

If you’re gambling a single match on a lark, take South Korea for a few bucks on Bovada’s moneyline.

However, if you’re looking forward to the Women’s World Cup as a beginning-to-end journey of speculating and profiting at the sportsbook, strongly consider taking the (+107) underdog goal-spread line at Sportsbetting.ag…and getting the France ’19 experience off to a positive start.

Take South Korea to cover (+2) at Sportsbetting.ag.

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