This article is part of our FanDuel Fantasy Soccer series.
Gearing up for the women's World Cup is a little different than the exercise we went through last year with the men's tournament, mainly because there are significantly fewer available statistics. That isn't to say there's nothing available for the women's qualifying tournaments, but it pales in comparison, which makes preparing for each slate...tougher.
Then again, there are some basic strategies employed on FanDuel during other competitions like the Premier League and UEFA Champions League that we can transfer over to the World Cup.
Saturday's slate includes three strong favorites, none bigger than Spain (-1000 on FanDuel Sportsbook as of Thursday afternoon EDT) over South Africa, who are tied with eight other countries for the worst odds to win the tournament. Germany (-360 to beat China) and Norway (-380 to beat Nigeria) will have tougher tests, but there's no denying they are expected to come out with three points.
9:00 a.m: China v. Germany
12:00 p.m: South Africa v. Spain
3:00 p.m: Nigeria v. Norway
Jennifer Hermoso, ESP v. RSA ($20): Hermoso is coming off an excellent club season, leading the Spanish Primera Division with 24 goals, and while Spain's results haven't indicated a willingness to run up the score, Hermoso is still the likeliest one to find the back of the net; in fact, she's has the best odds to score (-175 on FanDuel Sportsbook) among all players on the slate. Her goal-scoring is hardly limited to club football, as she had seven goals on 16 shots on target during eight World Cup qualifying matches, so while she seems somewhat goal dependent to pay off her salary, she shoots enough to justify cash-game consideration. It also doesn't hurt that she takes penalties for Spain, too.
Dzsenifer Marozsan, GER v. CHN ($20): Alexandra Popp ($22) is the attacker most likely to score for Germany (she's -105 to find the back of the net at FanDuel Sportsbook), but Marozsan is the engine of the midfield that is likely to create the most chances. Popp scored six goals on nine shots on target in six World Cup qualifying matches, and while she's the chance creator, Marozsan still managed eight shots on goal in four games. This match is likely to be the closest of the three, but Germany are still solid favorites, and Marozsan arguably has the safest floor. It's also somewhat possible that Lea Schuller ($14), who has the same odds to score as Popp, gets a start for Germany, and playing in the first match certainly helps in building around her if she's in. Speaking of savings, if Sara Dabritz ($10) gets the start, she should get plenty of attention. The box-to-box midfielder is capable both in defense and moving up in the attack, so while she could have a decent floor from tackles and interceptions, a long-distance goal is never out of the question.
Wang Shuang, CHN v. GER ($18): While China come in as underdogs against Germany, they have enough players who can do some damage that this won't likely be a completely one-sided affair. Wang is expected to take set pieces for China, and her accurate dead-ball deliveries could pay dividends, specifically for striker Li Ying ($14), who scored in all of China's matches during the Asian Cup last year, winning the Golden Ball by three goals. Both are more contrarian plays because they're on underdogs, but they certainly shouldn't be ignored in tournaments.
Caroline Graham Hansen, NOR v. NGA ($20): The Norway attack will never be mistaken for a high-octane machine, but this match should have goals in it and Graham Hansen has the best floor because of her role on set pieces. Guro Reiten ($18) is another interesting option, while Isabell Herlovsen ($18) has the best anytime goal scorer odds for Norway, but Graham Hansen is the creator. Their favored status has them all decently priced, as even Maren Mjelde is $16 as a defender, but there should be some hesitation on their upside versus sides like Spain and Germany. If you want to believe in the other side of this match, Asisat Oshoala ($20), who won African footballer of the year three times, is the upside play from Nigeria.
Linda Maserame Motlhalo, RSA v. ESP ($8): Motlhalo's floor is heavily dependent on her defensive capabilities, but that should be a benefit against a Spain side likely to create chances for her to shine. South Africa are one of the worst sides in the tournament and are heavy underdogs against Spain, but Motlhalo's cheap salary could be helpful for those looking for a decent floor; just be advised that her upside is quite limited in this match.
Noko Matlou, RSA v. ESP ($10): Janine van Wyk is the heart of the South Africa defense, but a $14 salary is pretty steep when there are attacking players worth prioritizing. However, focusing on other South African defenders allows us to save a little salary and rack up fantasy points thanks to their expected clearances against a Spain side that could pummel them. It's worth noting that Spain are much more of a high possession team than they are a dominant goal-scoring one (they bagged multiple goals just twice in their last five matches, including a 4-0 win over Cameroon), but as such heavy favorites they're likely to have their opportunities near the box, which puts Matlou and van Wyk in solid positions to rack up defensive stats. While the center-backs are likely to see more of the work, don't completely disregard fullbacks Lebogang Ramalepe ($8) or Nothando Vilakazi ($8) because they can help save additional salary.
Marta Torrejon, ESP v. RSA ($8): The Spanish defenders are quite cheap, though their floors are somewhat limited given that South Africa aren't likely to build enough of an attack to force a lot of defensive action. However, their respective upsides are interesting, with Torrejon one of the cheaper options who is likely to move up in the attack, a situation that could also apply to Mapi Leon ($10). If you're focusing more on upside than floor, Spain offers some cost-savers with scoresheet upside simply because they're such big favorites and have solid clean sheet chances.
Sandra Panos, ESP v. RSA ($16): There's a decent chance South Africa don't score in their three matches in France, which gives Panos a solid chance for a win and clean sheet. However, the save upside is likely to be very limited because of the South African attacking woes. You are paying up for safety, but the upside isn't as high as others. Otherwise, you're playing the save game, with Andile Dlamini ($8) or Kaylin Swart ($10) providing some salary savings with an unlikely shot at a win or clean sheet. If anything, it seems better off focusing on Tochukwu Oluehi ($10) since the Norway attack can go cold.