- The ten-team Olympic women’s water polo tournament will begin July 24 at Japan’s Tatsumi Water Polo Centre.
- Team USA opens up as an increasing favorite in the tournament but could a team like Spain have value?
- Check out the odds, analysis, and betting predictions below
Water polo will be an intriguing tournament this year even with the American women again as favorites. Can Spain upend the United States or will even Australia surprise?
The ten-team Olympic water polo tournament will be played at Tatsumi Water Polo Centre, with host Japan scheduled to meet the United States in the first game of the tournament on July 24. The gold-medal game is scheduled for Saturday, August 7.
Olympic Women’s Water Polo Odds
|Team||Odds at DraftKings|
Odds as of July 23
The tournament will begin with round-robin play in two five-team pools. The four teams from each group will advance to the knockout stage, with seeding based on group play. The knockout round begins on Aug. 3. The gold and bronze medal games are scheduled for Aug. 7.
The United States is the prohibitive favorite, but Spain has the talent to keep up with the American women. After that, any of the other countries (especially Hungary, Russia, and Australia) could medal and even beat Spain.
The American Women Are the Ones to Beat
Team USA comes in as the reigning Olympic champions. They also won the gold medal in London during the 2012 Olympics as well. Can they accomplish the three-peat in Tokyo? Oddsmakers say yes.
The coaching is a huge strength here as well. Adam Krikorian has been the head coach of the team since 2009. Their chemistry is a huge reason, along with talent as to their success. It is no secret that Team USA excels in all parts of the game, but their ability to play any style also helps.
“What’s next for the next generation of women in the sport of water polo? How can it be better than we have now? We’re making sure we’re continually fighting for that.”@maggiesteffens is leading the charge to grow women's water polo. The next step? Tokyo. #TokyoOlympics
— Team USA (@TeamUSA) July 19, 2021
Their drive is unique in the sport. Team USA has five medals in five appearances (2 gold, 2 silver, and.1 bronze). This team appears younger with only Melissa Seidemann as the only player above the age of 30 (31) but do not let that fool you. They won the last two World Cups and World Championships.
Women’s Water Polo Past Gold Medalists
Spain Could Provide a Bit of a Challenge
Spain has come close in the past to unseating the Americans. In the last Olympics, the Spanish team was the up-and-coming squad yet were older than the American team that averaged less than 24 years old. Since their silver medal at Rio, Spain has followed up that performance with silver medals in the recent 2017 and 2019 World Championships.
The Spanish are relying on experience more this time around as six of their 13 players are 28 years or older. They still have the speed and dangerous special teams that even caused the United States fits at times in the 2016 gold medal game. It comes down to can goalkeeper Laura Ester keep teams off the scoreboard.
In the 2019 World Championships, Spain had a disastrous third quarter where the Americans scored four times unanswered. That sealed the match and gold medal. The Spanish will lean on playing better defense, and special teams as their starts of halves against the USA have been less than stellar. Spain is still the second-best challenge but barely.
The Rest of the Field
Australia, Italy, and the Netherlands are all teams that can potentially medal in the tournament. It comes down to them getting on a run and avoiding the United States as long as possible.
Summer Olympics ☀️🏅
Women's Water Polo 🤽♀️
Australia (+1000) 0.33u
Can't pick the favorites USA since they are at -400. But if there were a team to beat them it would be Australia. They've been the toughest test for USA and even ended their 70 game win streak early in 2020. pic.twitter.com/2Px8Hv7eq2
— Almond Sports Picks (@AlmondPicks) July 6, 2021
The 2020 game was not best versus best necessarily. Either way, Australia did end that streak.
The team from down under also has medaled in three of the five Olympic appearances. Only the United States has more.
As tempting as it is to pick Australia or Spain, Team USA is motivated, and their overall balance is too tough to overcome. Take the Americans as the pick. If looking for the longshot, it will be Australia even though Spain is the undisputed second-best team in this tournament.
The Pick: USA (-500)