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New Zealand vs Norway betting tips: Women’s World Cup preview, predictions, team news and odds

New Zealand vs Norway odds and betting statistics



New Zealand vs Norway match preview

The ninth edition of the FIFA Women’s World Cup kicks off in Auckland, in front of a sold-out crowd of over 40,000, the majority of which will be hoping to witness history.

Co-hosts New Zealand are set to make their sixth World Cup appearance but, to date, they’re yet to win a match, recording just three draws and suffering 12 defeats.

Four summers ago, the Football Ferns left France without even a point to their name, beaten by Netherlands, Canada and then, ignominiously, at the hands of Cameroon.

But, what Jitka Klimková’s team are clinging to is the fact that no women’s World Cup hosts have ever been eliminated in the group stages, a fact New Zealand will hope is still true come close of play on 30 July.

History and their recent friendly form suggests that the Football Ferns won’t go very far in this tournament, but don’t underestimate the power a huge crowd can have when it comes to inspiring their team.

Having said all of that, Norway come into this opening fixture is big favourites to pick up three points.

Since then, they’ve got no further than the semi-finals, finishing fourth in both 1999 and 2007, ousted by England at the last two World Cups, in the last 16 in 2015 and then at the quarter-final stage last time round.

Sticking with that theme, it’s another defeat to England that is the main talking point ahead of this competition.

Last summer, Norway ignominiously exited the European Championships in the group phase, smashed 8-0 by the hosts in Brighton, before a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Austria sealed the fate.

Understandably, Martin Sjögren was sacked as a result, with Hege Riise now in charge; she won the Euros, Olympic Gold and that aforementioned 1995 World Cup with Norway during her playing career.

At Riise’s disposal is a very talented squad, making the Grasshoppers, if not one of the favourites, a dangerous opponent in this tournament.

With Switzerland and Philippines completing Group A’s quartet, Norway are odds-on favourites to take top spot.

So, can New Zealand spring a surprise on opening night, or will Norway be simply too strong at Eden Park?

New Zealand team news

The versatile Ali Riley will captain her country at right-back, winning her 155th cap, hunting down the record holder that is Ria Percival, who will also start, adding to her 163 international appearances.

If New Zealand are going to score in this game, Hannah Wilkinson is the most likely source.

She’s scored 28 times for the Football Ferns, including netting against China at the 2015 World Cup, before scoring against Norway during the 2020 Algarve Cup.

Predicted XI (4-4-2): Nayler; Riley, Scott, Brown, Bunge; Chance, Hassett, Percival, Steinmetz; Wilkinson, Rennie.

Norway teams news

In this top-heavy Norwegian squad, Maren Mjelde is vitally important, given that she’s, possibly, their only elite-level defender.

Meantime, in goal, Aurora Mikalsen is set to get the nod, earning just her tenth cap, chosen over Cecilie Fiskerstrand, who’s vastly more experienced at international level.

There’s plenty of familiar faces to FAWSL fans in midfield, namely Vilde Bøe Risa (Manchester United), Frida Maanum (Arsenal) and Guro Reiten (Chelsea).

Leading Norway’s attack will be two of the best forwards in the world: Caroline Graham Hansen and Ada Hegerberg.

Graham Hansen was on fire for Barcelona this season, staring in last month’s Champions League Final.

As for Hegerberg, she’s scored 43 times in just 77 caps, with this set to be her highly-anticipated World Cup return, having sat out the 2019 edition protesting the NFF’s treatment of the women’s team.

Predicted XI (4-2-3-1): Mikalsen; Hansen, Harviken, Mjelde, Bratberg Lund; Bøe Risa, Syrstad Engen, Graham Hansen, Maanum, Reiten; Hegerberg.

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Ben Gray

Arsenal fan – follow them over land and sea (and Leicester); sofa Celtic supporter; a bit of a football '"encyclopedia".

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