WWC Round of 16: Brazil v Australia

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Sara Tomevska and Luke Robbs bring you all you need to know from Australia’s Round of 16 win over Brazil as they exacted revenge over the South Americans.

Image credit: Football NSW

What Happened

Australia has sent one of international football’s most highly regarded teams and pre-tournament favourites packing and we couldn’t be happier.

A tense and even-sided match seemed as though it would go to extra time until the 80th minute when a combined effort from captain Lisa De Vanna and super-subs Katrina Gorry and Kyah Simon resulted in the 1-0 victory for the Matildas. This seals not only progression to the quarter finals but also the Matildas’ first victory over Brazil at the World Cup.

The Brazilians best chances came from Formiga and Tamires with the former forcing Lydia Williams to tip-over her powerful drive in Brazil’s only real chance of the first half. The match sparked to life with half an hour remaining; both teams saw half chances fall to them as the game opened up with Williams denying Marta’s low drive just after the hour mark. However, the structured and resolute defending showed by Australia kept Marta and the rest of the dangerous players quiet and limited them to shooting from distance.

Ultimately the match ended in tears for both teams; jubilation for the Aussies and devastation for the Brazilians. It seemed almost wasteful having two such highly rated teams go up against each other so early in the competition but it’s now clear that Australia is a force to be reckoned with.

Stand Out Performances

The Matildas as a squad had their stand-out performance of the tournament so far and played as a well-oiled unit. If we’re singling people out recognition needs to go to impact players Kyah Simon and Katrina Gorry who wasted no time in coming off the bench to get their team the win. Captain Lisa De Vanna put in a stellar effort and was consistent throughout as she has been for the entire tournament – despite an error which could have seen Australia a goal up much earlier than the 80th minute, she has been a rock for the other players and wore the captain’s armband well.

Of the Brazilian power players such as Marta, Cristiane and Formiga, only Formiga performed how we expected her to. The 37-year-old veteran created plenty of opportunities for Brazil, many of which were wasted by her teammates, but nevertheless put Australia under pressure. Brazilian defender Tamires has been a consistent player for As Canarinhas throughout the World Cup and again showed her skill and diversity today. Although she wasn’t able to shut down De Vanna at the crucial moment she kept with her the entire way and showed more grit than some of her fellow country-women.

Talking Points 

Australian coach Alen Stajcic isn’t afraid of making changes, even to a side that has been getting the required results. It’s important to acknowledge that his strategy of using Simon and Gorry as impact players off the bench worked with the both of them having a hand in the goal. However, you have to start with your best 11 and while Michelle Heyman is a decent player, Simon offers a lot more in terms of work off the ball.

Have Brazil had their day? The South Americans looked good in patches but didn’t ever really look in control of the match. Despite having the quality of Marta and Cristiane in the team, Brazil seemed to be starved of ideas and at times didn’t look like they thought they deserved to progress. Next time round Marta will be 33 and Cristiane will be 34 so their chance to win a World Cup may have gone.

‘Can Australia go all the way?’ is now a really serious question to ask and will be posed by all the remaining teams. Australia dictated the match to Brazil and once the South Americans got frustrated and started shooting from distance, the Aussies would have known they were right in the competition. If they can do it to Brazil, a nation that was yet to drop a point or concede a goal, why can’t they go all the way?

What it Means

It means that the Matildas become Australia’s most successful football team in World Cup history! Kyah Simon’s goal – it was never going to be anyone else – has given Australia its first ever victory in a knock-out stage of any senior World Cup. Along with that, the Australians reach a whole new level of self-confidence and belief as they progress to the quarter-finals for a third straight World Cup. The victory also shines a light on the quality and excitement of the women’s game which for so long has been unfairly overlooked.

Needs Work

Brazil weren’t as impressive as they have been in previous years, looking slightly out of puff and playing a lot of ineffective long balls instead of their usual possession-based game. Marta’s performance was somewhat disappointing considering her usual aplomb in the centre of the pitch and she was unable to get through Australia’s solid defense. On the other hand, despite out-possessing Brazil Australia afforded their opponent the time to be creative in front of goal in the first half especially, which at times looked dangerous. There were comments of Brazil “plateauing” as a team and it’s true they did look a bit flat; frustration seemed to get the better of them towards the end of the contest and they’ll certainly be disappointed to be sent home. Despite that, the better team won today.

What Next

While Brazil will head home Australia will now play the waiting game to find out who their opponent will be when they line-up for their quarter-final match next Sunday morning. The Matildas will either face world number three team Japan, in an Asian Cup Final rematch, or the thus-far disappointing Netherlands who limped into the Round of 16 as a third place qualifier. A match against the very familiar Japanese team would be highly anticipated but Stajcic would no doubt rather take on the Europeans ranked 11th in the world.

Goal of the Day

Kyah Simon’s winning goal in the 80th minute was every bit a team effort. A pass from Katrina Gorry found Lisa De Vanna whose first time shot was deflected by Brazilian goalkeeper Luciana, only to fall at the feet of Kyah Simon who wasted no time in putting Australia in the lead.

Miss of the Day

For all the crucial work De Vanna did, she made one critical error which must be acknowledged. Her break-away in the second half down the right side of the pitch, where she cut back to Emily van Egmond really should have been a ball played across the face to one of the other supporting players, ideally Kerr. It may seem nit-picky but the further they go into the competition the less they will be presented with similar opportunities which can’t be wasted.

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