ALBUFEIRA, Portugal — Australia will take on world no. 14 Denmark in the 3rd/4th Placement Match at the 2017 Algarve Cup.
Australia’s fightback 2-1 win over China, and the Netherlands’ 1-0 win over Sweden, was enough to see the Matildas top Group C in their first Algarve Cup outing since 1999.
In the unusual Algarve Cup format, as the third best group winner, Australia were therefore scheduled to meet the best second place team, Denmark.
Regardless of the result, the Bronze Medal match will see Australia record their best result at an international tournament, outside of the Asian Cup.
Alen Stajcic has made changes in every match this tournament with several players gaining key minutes against strong opponents. With a medal on the line, the question is whether Stajcic will continue his experimentation – with centre back Emma Checker and full back Teigen Allen yet to suit up – or if he will look to field Australia’s strongest possible line up.
The last time these two sides met was so long that host of Matildas players were not even born and several others were still in diapers. Nevertheless it was at the 1995 FIFA Women’s World Cup where Australia were participating for the first time. The opening group match saw the Danes completely overwhelm the Matildas in the opening match, running out 5-0 winners.
Australia’s Player to Watch: Emily Gielnik
Talk about taking your shot, literally and figuratively. Brisbane Roar forward Emily Gielnik was one of a number of players for whom the Algarve Cup would be their opportunity to press their claim for regular Matildas appearances.
This tournament has demonstrated the growth of Gielnik since her Matildas debut back in 2012. She is a player who has evolved from the quintessential hold up and target striker to a 6 foot winger – a very rare sight in football, let alone women’s football.
It’s not just the goals, her smart runs and also the confidence which she has demonstrated. It has certainly been a break out tournament for the 24 year old.
— Ann Odong ?????? (@AnnOdong) March 6, 2017
Denmark’s Player to Watch: Pernille Harder
Teammate to Emily van Egmond, Pernille Harder is the player that makes the Danes tick. A beautifully balanced, technically gifted footballer with a nose for goal, Harder helped Swedish side Linköping to the 2016 title with 23 goals in 22 games. As equally impressive she produced 10 assists on her way to being the Swedish League top goalscorer and MVP.
Internationally, the Danish Player of the Year, she led Denmark to Euro 2017 qualification and has again been key for Denmark during this tournament with her three goals making her equal top goalscorer at the Algarve Cup.
— WoSo Comps (@WoSoComps) March 7, 2017
What to Expect?
This will most probably be a tactical cat and mouse game. Both sides are adept in the midfield and Australia should prepare for a bigger battle for possession than in the China match.
It also means that midfield turnovers and poor and careless passing will be punished more severely than in previous matches.
Another thing for Australia to watch is their transition defence. It has caused a host of problems this tournament with 3 of the four goals conceded a result of turnovers and the opposition counter attack. Denmark have been very good at punishing that in this tournament.
For the Danes they too will have to contend with Australia in transition however, so far, the Matildas’ execution in front of goal has not provided the same punishment for opposition teams.
In essence, both teams will create a lot of chances, the winner will be the one that makes the most of those periods of control and takes their chances.
The Bronze Medal match will be live from 1.45am on Fox Sports 505 and on The Women’s Game twitter.
Australia v Denmark
8 March 2017
Albufeira Municipal Stadium, Albufeira
Kick off: 14.45 local (9 March 2017 – 1.45am AEDT)
Last 3 fixtures
6 July 1995: Denmark 5 – 0 Australia (WWC)