Norway vs. Nigeria
|Date & Time||Saturday June 8, 2019, 3:00 PM (EDT)|
The Line: Norway -359 / Nigeria +895 / Draw +407 -- Over/Under: 2.5
Norway and Nigeria meet Saturday in FIFA Women's World Cup at Stade Auguste-Delaune.
Norway is in the World Cup for the eighth straight time and has been bounced in the group stages just once. While there’s 11 teams that have better odds to win the tournament than Norway, everybody knows Gresshoppene won’t be pushovers and has a reputation of success. The bad news for Norway is that it will be without its star in Ada Hegerberg, who is protesting disparity in pay, conditions, and recognition between the men’s and women’s leagues. While it’s an honorable thing to do, there’s no doubt it hurts Norway’s chances of making a real run at this thing. The good news for Norway is that there’s still enough scoring depth for this team to be competitive. Lisa-Marie Karlseng Utland and Caroline Graham Hansen lit qualifying on fire with 13 combined goals, while Isabell Herlovsen leads the squad with 55 goals. Maren Mjelde is also a defender for her country with goalscoring ability, as she’s done a fine job for Chelsea these last couple of years. Norway is still a respectable team, but things would be a lot different if Hegerberg was here.
Nigeria is also in the World Cup for the eighth time but hopes to get out of the group stages for just the second time and first time since 1999. Nigeria enters this tournament on a seven-match winning streak, but I’m not sure how many points a team gets for beating up on Niger, Ghana and Ivory Coast. Oddsmakers clearly aren’t buying into Nigeria, as only Cameroon, Jamaica and Thailand have worst odds in terms of winning the tournament. With that said, Nigeria is a fast, athletic team that likes to push the pace and can cause issues for any team. Asisat Oshoala is a natural goal scorer who has held her own for Barcelona and is a three-time African player of the year at just 24 years old. Anam Imo is also a rising star at just 18 years old and already has a contract with the Rosengard club in Sweden. The Super Falcons have potential, but this team may be four years too early when it comes to making noise.
Nigeria and Norway played twice and Norway won the matches by a combined score of 11-1. The meetings took place in the 1995 World Cup and 2000 Summer Olympics.
The head to head doesn’t mean much, as Nigeria is a much more talented team than it was 20 years ago. And while Nigeria doesn’t have any success advancing or even winning matches on this level, there’s no denying that it competes. Let’s not forget that Nigeria in the 2015 World Cup forced a draw against Sweden and lost by one goal to the US. Nigeria also lost by one goal in an April friendly against a good Canada side. The positive results aren’t there, but Nigeria doesn’t back down.
I’ll take a chance with the spread.