So Ertz has single-handedly kept Australia scoreless at the break. It was perfectly timed and oh so vital. These teams are evenly matched, which means something really special or something really will have to happen in the second half to break the deadlock. Back with you soon.
Last week, when the United States opened their Olympic campaign with a shock 3-0 loss to Sweden, Donald Trump claimed the defeat was the result of the national team’s “wokeism”. It was a reference to the squad’s – in particular outspoken midfielder Megan Rapinoe – widely applauded stance on racial prejudice and discrimination which, he believed, causes one to become “warped” and “demented”. The former president may have still been busy working on his fundamental misunderstanding of English grammar when Vlatko Andonovski’s side took their “wokeism” and turned it into six goals against New Zealand.
The 6-1 result has lifted the world No 1 Americans to second in Group G, which makes this match against Australia very interesting indeed. The Matildas, after an opening 2-1 win over New Zealand and 4-2 loss to leaders Sweden, are third. Both have three points with only this one match to play, which means a lot is riding on the next 90 minutes. The US have a superior goal difference of +2 to Australia’s -1, which could well come into account in the case of a draw. It must be said, though, that if one of these teams miss out on a top-two spot and automatic progression they are very likely to go through anyway as one of the two best third-ranked teams across the three groups. Of course, New Zealand technically still have a shot but, with zero points, a -6 goal difference and a final game against a Swedish side that is frankly on fire, I am not putting my eggs in the Football Ferns’ basket.
There’s no kind way of putting this: Sam Kerr’s Matildas will be up against it to win this. Tony Gustavsson’s world No 9 team have improved markedly in recent weeks, but they have beaten the US only once – a 1-0 victory in 2018. Right, this should be fun! Got a question, comment or concern? My details are above.