Japan vs EnglandWomen's World Cup, KO: 20:00 Jun 19, 2019, Allianz Riviera
JAPAN and England are all but guaranteed a place in the last 16 of the Women's World Cup and both of these old adversaries will be eager to end Wednesday night top of Group D.
The Japanese may have shattered English dreams at the semi-final stage four years ago, but the bookies make Japan big outsiders to win this encounter in 90 minutes at 11/4 (PaddyPower)
Such elevated odds can perhaps be attributed to the Asian outfits drab 0-0 draw with Argentina on matchday one and a repeat of that outcome at the Allianz Riviera is available at 9/4 (Bet 365)
Meanwhile, star-studded England have taken six points from six so far and are 11/10 (Bet 365) for the win that would see them finish top of Group D on maximum points.
Although Phil Neville's side have won two out of two they are yet to demonstrate the form that ranked them among the market leaders to lift the trophy before the tournament got underway.
The Lionesses limped past lowly Argentina last weekend and were given a scare by rivals Scotland in their opening group game, so this young Japan side who are bidding to become the first nation to make three successive World Cup finals will represent England's toughest test to date.
Japan's World Cup journey thus far is similar to that of England's in that they were uninspiring against Argentina and were made sweat by the Scots in their previous two group games.
However, Japan appear to be a team in transition and living off past glories and that is highlighted by the fact that 17 of their 23 players are appearing at their first World Cup.
Such inexperience was evident against both Argentina and Scotland and perhaps explains why the Japanese have only registered one clean sheet in their last nine matches.
The English ladies will believe they can breach Japan's backline, however the Japanese carry an attacking threat of their own having scored in 12 of their last 14 fixtures and could therefore trouble an England team who have only kept three clean sheets in their last eight games.
Furthermore, six of Japan's last eight games have ended with over 2.5 goals and the same can be said for England in eight of their last 12 outings.
With that in mind, as well as the fact that three of the last four meetings between these nations have racked up over 2.5 goals, I like the look of a repeat of that in Nice at a notable 6/4 (William Hill)
In considering who may get on the scoresheet it would be a shrewd move to wait until the lineups are announced as Neville may well protect some of his Lionesses ahead of the latter stages of the competition.
Although the 11/10 (Bet 365) on offer for an England win is enticing, a repeat of the SheBelieves final back in March when England defeated a depleted Japan side 3-0 is unlikely
The Asian outfit are no strangers to the big stage and England could ring the changes so this is a tough one to call and I'm expecting a closely fought encounter.
However, I don't envisage a cagey affair and goals could flow in France so another angle to consider is a Goal in Both Halves at 23/20 (BoyleSports)
This Women's World Cup match between Japan and England will be played on Jun 19, 2019 and kick off at 20:00