LONDON, UK - USA and Japan meet on Thursday evening at the world-famous Wembley Stadium to fight it out for the gold medal, in a re-match of the epic 2011 World Cup Final which went to penalties following two goals in extra-time.
USA will be keen be revenge having lost 3-1 on penalties in Frankfurt, and they have been made the favourites by the bookmakers to claim the gold medal. USA are best-priced at 11/10 (bet £10 to make £11 profit) with BlueSQ to win inside 90 minutes, whereas another draw is on offer at 23/10 with Skybet and William Hill. A Japan win within normal time is priced at 3/1 with bet365, but plenty of firms are going 5/2 and 11/5, so it pays to shop around.
Since women's football was introduced at the summer Olympics in 1996, USA have dominated, winning three gold medals and one silver. They began the tournament as strong 9/4 favourites, and justified the hype by winning their first four matches of the tournament - three of them to nil. In the semi-final USA needed a 123rd minute header from star striker Alex Morgan to send them through against arch-rivals Canada - a header which sparked joyous scenes in Manchester - but it is worth remembering that Canada have not beaten USA in their last 27 attempts.
Japan started the tournament as third favourites at 5/1 and are now 6/4 with Paddy Power to win gold. Having beaten USA at the recent World Cup, the Japanese hold a psychological edge, and they also managed to beat Canada 2-1 in the group stage. Captain Aya Miyama, who plays her club football for Okayama Yunogo Belle, will have to play to her peak if Japan are to triumph in this Wembley encounter - she scored an 81st minute equaliser in the World Cup Final and also scored the important winning goal against the Canadians at these Olympics. Yuki Ogimi was the striker who capitalised on a howler to get Japan up and running against the French in the semis, but their own keeper Miho Fukumoto looked suspect at times.
Japan come here having beaten both France and Brazil, two of the best teams in women's football, but USA have a near-perfect Olympic record and they will be buzzing after Morgan's late winner against Canada. It should be a cracking final in front of a packed-out Wembley audience (61,482 saw the Japan v France semi-final), but with so little to choose between the two sides, a draw could be the best wager of the night if you have not backed either side pre-tournament.
With a tight scoreline forecast and given that Japan have scored two goals in each of their two previous games, a repeat scoreline of the 2011 World Cup, 2-2, is not inconceivable. In the correct score betting 2-2 is at 16/1, longer than a tense 1-1 which is at 11/2 with Ladbrokes. 1-0 to USA is best at 13/2 with Paddy Power, but with both defences looking open in the semis, it could pay to go with more goals. 2-1 to USA is 8/1 with bet365, and the same score in favour of the Japanese is 12/1 with Betfred. USA are 80/1 with Boylesports to be involved in another 3-3 in 90 minutes.
The method of victory betting will interest those who are going with a stalemate. Japan, who won on penalties in Frankfurt, are 12/1 with Boylesports to win the gold medal on spot kicks. The Irish firm have trimmed the odds of a USA win in extra-time from 13/2 to 6/1.
The first goalscorer market is a cracking one to bet on, and the bookies' favourite is the tournament's second top goalscorer, Abby Wambach. The 32-year-old is best at 11/2 with Coral, the same odds as strike partner Alex Morgan. Morgan tends to get the important goals, but Wambach is prolific as she takes penalties - she was awarded the Bronze Boot at the World Cup (four goals). The stand-out bet looks to be Japan's Ogimi at 9/1 with William Hill who has opened the scoring for Japan in their last two game - she looks a touch big at 9/1.
Seven of USA's last nine matches, including friendlies, have featured over 2.5 goals, which is big at 23/20 with bet365 here.
The match kicks-off at 7.45pm BST on Thursday 9 August and is live on the BBC.