- Wednesday, August 16
- Stadium Australia, Sydney, Australia
- Kickoff: 8pm (10:00 GMT)
England and Australia will compete in a historic semi-final in Sydney, both attempting to reach the Women’s World Cup final for the first time in history. The match is set to reignite an old sporting rivalry with both nations desperate to book a place in Sunday’s final against Spain.
The Heat of the Contest
England, the reigning European champions, are confident going into this match. They are currently rated fourth in the world and are considered favourites, but the team is not taking this lightly. “It’s very special to go so far in the tournament,” Lionesses manager Sarina Wiegman says, “but when you’re there, you really want to win and get to the final.”
On the other hand, the Matildas, rated tenth in the world, are counting on a large home crowd to back them up. Australia is ready to play its first World Cup semi-final after a dramatic penalty shootout victory against France. The 81,000-capacity Stadium Australia is expected to be packed, with the nation rallying behind the Matildas in this crucial match.
“Australia is not the underdog,” Wiegman says, “because they’re playing at home, and the stadium will be crowded.” It’s two really strong teams who have grown into the tournament.”
Australian boss Tony Gustavsson recognizes the advantage of home support. “The one thing that we have that they don’t have is the support and belief from the fans,” he says. “That in itself is going to be massive.”
Key Players and Strategies
For Australia, the potential return of captain and all-time record scorer Sam Kerr, who is expected to start after a calf injury, could prove pivotal. Gustavsson is yet to confirm her name on the team sheet, but her presence would undeniably boost the Matildas’ firepower.
Unfortunately, England will be without top scorer Lauren James due to suspension. England will rely on Lauren Hemp, who scored the equaliser against Colombia, and Alessia Russo, who has two goals in this tournament, in her absence. These forwards have shown versatility and capability, and they are expected to spearhead England’s attack on Australia’s goal.
Millie Bright, England’s captain, understands the magnitude of the situation. “I don’t think you can’t look forward to that game,” she noted in the pre-match press conference. Vice-captain for the Australian side, Steph Catley, believes her team is “just primed for this moment”.
A New Chapter in a Historic Rivalry
The England-Australia rivalry in sports is storied and rich, from cricket’s Ashes to numerous other contests. This semi-final adds a fresh, exciting chapter to this long-standing competition. However, in their pre-match press conferences, both teams have attempted to downplay the rivalry, focusing on the task at hand.
England midfielder Keira Walsh has stated that the team’ focus is on victory rather than rivalry: “For us, it’s not about Australia, we want to win regardless.”
This semi-final is more than simply a game for Australia. According to Gustavsson, his team may “inspire the next generation” and “unite the nation,” leaving a legacy that extends beyond football.