WWC Quarter Final: Australia

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It’s the quarter finals and we’ve made it! Australia drew Sweden, Nigeria and the USA yet escaped the Group of Death. Australia drew football powerhouse Brazil in the Round of 16 yet beat them. Australia drew Asian Cup Champions Japan in the quarter finals, well… let’s run the numbers.

The story so far

The Matildas have made the whole nation proud, that’s what has happened so far. The assignment to simply make it past the group stage was thought to be out of reach for the still young Aussie squad. Depsite losing 3-1 to the USA, a 2-0 victory over Nigeria and a gutsy 1-1 draw with Sweden was enough to see the Matildas finish second in Group D and automatically progress to the Round of 16.

Australia as a nation again collectively scuffed their feet and pouted their bottom lips when they found out the Matildas would have to Brazil in the Round of 16. Despite many calls that the quality of the South Americans would be too much for Australia to handle, the Matildas controlled much of the match and were undoubtedly the better team in their 1-0 victory.

The Matildas’ play to get them to this point has been masterful, particularly for such a young team. Their ability to play controlled and patient build-up football as well as quick-fire touch and pass counter-attack whilst knowing when to play which style has been first class. They’ve constantly risen, competed and out-played teams that were perceived above their level and that will give them confidence they need heading into the match against Japan.

They’ll beat Japan because…

Because they’re killing giants at the moment. Alen Stajcic has prepared the Matildas immaculately for their matches so far, not just tactically but also in making tough personnel choices. They will no doubt be primed to their best when they take to the field on Sunday morning, full of confidence that they can beat the Asian Cup winners and a lot of the praise must go to Stajcic.

They’ve also proven that they can beat Japan in the past. The two teams met on the way to Australia claiming the 2010 Asian Cup with the Matildas disposing of the Japanese in the semi-finals. While that may have been a long time ago, the Australians are playing better than ever right now.

They’ll be knocked out by Japan because…

Japan have been flying under the radar in the tournament so far with many people looking towards the likes of German and The United States as favourites. The Japanese should be consider equal threats though after their commanding performance over World Cup debutants the Netherlands in the Round of 16. Additionally they are the only team yet to drop a point this tournament.

The Japanese will also head into the match having the better of the more recent exchanges between the two team after they met the Matildas twice in last year’s Asian Cup. Japan claimed the crown with a 1-0 win over the Aussies in the final after they played out a 2-2 draw in the group stage.

Will they win the World Cup?

Yes, absolutely! Their confidence has risen after every performance and it now looks like the Matildas have enough self-believe for them to go all the way. After seeing their ability, many for the first time, every Australia will no doubt be backing them to win the World Cup.

Best moment of the tournament so far

Their match against Brazil was a classy team performance. The Matildas work off the ball was exceptional with every member of the squad pressing the South American’s attack and working hard to get behind the ball. Their superior cardio allowed them to get the better of the match in the second half and despite a valiant effort from the Brazilians they were effectively smothered out of the match by the Aussies. If they perform similarly against Japan they have every chance to progress.

Key player

Elise Kellond-Knight will again be the lynchpin for Australia. Her composure so far throughout the tournament has kept Australia in every match. We don’t want to harp on about it but her screening is first class and her distribution is excellent. If she doesn’t play well Japan will repeatedly rip open the midfield and charge in on goal.

Injuries/Suspensions

Both teams should be able to field unchanged line-ups if they wish. In fact, Australia are the only team to not have received a single yellow card. Surely that’s worth a free spot kick or some candy, or a hug maybe?

Prediction

Australia 1-0. Come on Matildas, Australia is behind you!

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