Following Australia’s 3-1 win over Brazil on Saturday night, naturally celebrations ensued.
The Matildas had not played at home since February of 2020. They had not won in their last three games and it was Alanna Kennedy’s 100th cap. The pressure was on to perform in front of 15,000 fans and delivered they did
Speaking to the media post-match Tony Gustavsson encouraged caution. He reminded everybody in attendance that this was a Brazil side that is currently rebuilding. Australia needed to remain humble he said, there was still work to do.
With all that in mind, Kick360 examines what to expect from the second match in the series.
BRAZIL TO HIT BACK
Brazil is a proud football country, losing games is not something they readily accept. An Australian attacking masterclass extended the losing streak to The Matildas to five years, they will want to start to even the ledger.
Pia Sundhage started with Marta and Debinha on the bench in the first match. This was not their strongest side. Marta may be 35 years old but remains one of the most dangerous players in the world with the ball at her feet.
Her introduction in the second half briefly threatened to change the course of the match. With the score still at 2-1, she took control on the wing and changed the angle of the attack with a quick pass inboard when most players would play it back.
An Australian defense that had been comfortable sending players upfield found themselves backpedaling more after Debhina and Marta joined the match.
A body feint and drop of the shoulder on the edge of the area from the number 10 momentarily caused panic among Aussie supporters.
The Matildas defence held firm after the two stars were introduced but if either start the match on Tuesday it could mean a much more defensive game for the swashbuckling Ellie Carpenter.
TINKERING FROM TONY
Tony Gustavsson clearly views friendlies as opportunities over contests.
Australia has limited playing opportunities to prepare for the World Cup in 2023 and the manager seems intent on making the most of them.
Whereas European nations have a consistent stream of various competitive internationals in the form of Euro’s and World Cup qualifiers, Australia only really has the Asian Cup next year.
Friendlies have become important what for the manager calls “preparation mode.”
He is trying to identify and integrate as many top level Matildas as possible, and as a result he has not named the same starting lineup in any friendly match of his tenure.
Some of this has been due to injuries or travel restrictions but much of it has been down to exploration if not experimentation.
Some of this has worked. Carpenter as a centre-back, Mary Fowler in midfield and Tameka Yallop as a wide player have added new possibilities to the squad. Gustavsson will be looking to continue to find ways to add to his options on Tuesday.
Saturday’s win gave Clare Wheeler and Charli Grant another opportunity to impress. Remy Siemson and Bryleeh Henry earned thier first caps and the midfield was entrusted to two teenagers at kickoff in Fowler and Kyra Cooney-Cross.
From the win even in the absence of Chloe Logarzo, Hayley Raso, Elise Kellond-Knight and Emily Gielnik, there are options that can make an impact.
Henry’s time on the ground was minimal after a 90th minute substitution but she looked confident on the ball in place of Caitlin Foord.
Kyra Cooney-Cross midfield performance illustrated that there is a way to have Emily van Egmond as an attacking weapon and not lose control of the middle of the park.
In the second match, Gustavsson will inevitably look to learn something new again.
Nothing is really out of the question. Before the Olympics it would have sounded like madness to use Yallop as a left wing back or Cooney-Cross as a deep midfielder.
Both of these changes have worked and expanded the capability and flexibility of the side.
The makeup of the squad featuring 10 defenders indicates that if any changes are made, they will be at the back. This could also mean that Alanna Kennedy is trialed in midfield.
Predicting what Gustavsson will change is nearly impossible, but it will be a huge surprise if he changes nothing.
KERR TO STAR
The Chelsea superstar was not exactly quiet on Saturday, she was typically tireless off the ball. Kerr was constantly moving, stretching the defense and moving opponents out of position.
However, clear cut chances for the Matilda’s all time leading scorer were rare. She almost had an opening in the first few minutes but the ball did not fall quite right. She used her next real opportunity to nod across goal for Clare Polkinghorne to tap into an open net.
Kerr’s value is that when she is not scoring she is a menace, by reputation and work rate.
Simply, she stresses out defenders.
But she will want to score in front of the home fans and Tim Cahill’s all time record in the green and gold beckons.
Her next three goals for Australia will see her overtake the Socceroos legend and she will be keen to achieve that, if only to put an end to the external discussion of when it will happen.
Kerr usually scores against Brazil. She netted stylishly after controlling on the chest in the famous 6-1 victory in 2017 and against them in once more in the 2018 Tournament of Nations.
In the 2019 World Cup meeting, she did not get her name on the scoresheet but her presence in the penalty box was enough to force two defenders into conceding an own goal.
Australia has looked for different avenues to goal lately. Of Australia’s last eight goals, she has only scored one.
Australia take on Brazil for the second time on the 26th of October at 7:50pm AEST at CommBank Stadium