Sporting Life's women's football expert Joe Rindl has the preview and best bet for Team GB's opener with Chile at Tokyo 2020.
1.5 pts GB to win and over 3.5 goals at 13/8 (Sky Bet)
After a nine-year absence, Team GB are back playing football at the Olympics. They’re third favourites to collect gold. Could football still come home this summer?
The Olympic football tournament is behind only the World Cup as the most prestigious international competition in the women’s game.
Unlike the men’s equivalent there are no age restrictions here. The very best can, and will, compete against each other.
GB are in a tricky group with 2016 Bronze-medal-winners Canada, hosts Japan and outsiders Chile. But the home nations’ recent tournament expertise are enough to see them at odds-against to win Group E with Sky Bet.
The vast majority of GB’s players in Japan are English and the Three Lions boast a superb recent tournament record.
Since 2015 the England national team have reached the semi-finals of two World Cups, one European Championship and have won one and finished runners-up in another SheBelieves Cup, an invitational competition held in the States.
And that form is translating nicely to Team GB. Interim England boss Hege Riise will manage the side, already seeing her team defeat New Zealand 3-0 behind closed doors in their only warm-up game.
Team GB’s first match, against their group’s weakest team Chile, is essentially a must-win affair. Slip up here and it’s a battle to reach the knockouts, with former world champions Japan to come on 24 July and two-time bronze medallists Canada next up three days later.
The 1/8 favourites should have far too much strength in their opener against Chile though, with WSL player of the season Fran Kirby and FIFA’s 2020 player of the year Lucy Bronze two key names in the GB squad.
They can also rely on something Chile lack; significant tournament experience.
Among their numbers are five Olympians who competed for Team GB at London 2012; Scotland’s Kim Little and England’s Karen Bardsley, Steph Houghton, Jill Scott and joint top-scorer at the 2019 World Cup Ellen White.
Five years ago Chile hadn’t played enough games to make it on to FIFA’s world rankings.
Since then, they’ve finished runners-up at the 2018 Copa America, competed at the 2019 World Cup and qualified for their first ever Olympics at Tokyo 2020.
La Roja Femenina beat Cameroon 2-1 over two legs in Turkey to reach the Games.
And they backed up that historic result with a notable 0-0 draw against 2016 Olympic Gold medallists Germany in June 2021.
Chile's star player is undoubtedly goalkeeper Christiane Endler, who signed for seven-time Champions League winners Lyon last month.
But even with Endler they’re still unfancied to produce a shock in Group E. Chile’s only win in the past two years has been that crucial first leg against Cameroon. It’s a run that has seen them lose to Zambia, ranked 104th in the world.
The fact that Chile are 20/1 to win this match says it all. Team GB are overwhelming favourites and as such there’s hardly any value in the 1X2 market.
Instead, it is better to side with a sizeable GB victory, with GREAT BRITAIN TO WIN AND OVER 3.5 GOALS available at an appealing price of 13/8.
If GB can put three past New Zealand, a team 15 places above Chile (37) in FIFA’s world rankings, they’ll be able to strike four in the Sapporo Dome, while England - 15 of the 18-person squad are English - have a good record against sides outside of the top 30, beating 48th-ranked Northern Ireland 6-0 last February.
Score prediction: Great Britain 4-0 Chile (Sky Bet odds: 15/2)
Odds correct at 1400 BST (20/07/21)
We are committed in our support of safer gambling. Recommended bets are advised to over-18s and we strongly encourage readers to wager only what they can afford to lose.
If you are concerned about your gambling, please call the National Gambling Helpline / GamCare on 0808 8020 133.