SYDNEY, Australia — The next chapter in the Australia and Brazil rivalry will be written at Pepper Stadium in Parramatta in front of an anticipated full house.
It will be the second time the rivals have met on Australian soil and the second time in three months.
With the exception of Kyah Simon and Michelle Heyman recovering from injury, Australia has selected a close to full strength squad for the two match series.
There are plenty of headaches for Alen Stajcic in preparing his best starting XI for the opening match with several players putting up their hands in several positions.
One question mark may be with Sam Kerr. The forward was the last two arrive in camp and endured a long flight from the United States, only landing in Australia on Wednesday. How she recovers of the jet lag may determine whether the striker starts or enters the fray later.
Jet lag could pose a similar problem for Brazil with their final squad members – Marta and Monica – only arriving in Australia on Thursday due to Hurricane Irma.
Brazil have also been hit by injury since their squad was announced with Maurine (replaced by Rosana) and the up and coming Camila (replaced by Thaisa) both withdrawn due to injury. This was after their number 1 goalkeeper Barbara was ruled out for the tour with injury.
Matildas: Laura Alleway, Mackenzie Arnold (gk), Tameka Butt, Ellie Carpenter, Steph Catley, Caitlin Cooper, Lisa De Vanna, Casey Dumont (gk), Caitlin Foord, Emily Gielnik, Katrina Gorry, Elise Kellond-Knight, Alanna Kennedy, Sam Kerr, Chloe Logarzo, Clare Polkinghorne, Hayley Raso, Gema Simon, Emily van Egmond, Lydia Williams (gk), Georgia Yeoman-Dale
Brazil: Leticia (gk), Dani Neuhaus (gk), Rafaelle, Bruna Benites, Monica, Jucinara, Leticia, Maurine, Fran, Andressinha, Djenifer, Fabiana, Gabi Zanotti, Andressa Alves, Camila, Debinha, Bia Zaneratto, Ludmila, Cristiane, Marta
The history of Australia and Brazil spans almost 30 years with their first clash in 1988. The rivalry has seen both sides inflict painful defeats with the margins between the two nations generally small.
It is with that background, that Australia’s 6-1 win over the Brazilians at the Tournament of Nations came as an unexpected surprise. On that day, the Matildas completely controlled the encounter and their ruthlessness in front of goal rewarded that control.
AUSTRALIA’S PLAYER TO WATCH: KATRINA GORRY
It seems harsh to pick out just one player to watch for an Australian side which has now cultivated plenty of match winners.
2017 FIFA World Player of the Year nominee Sam Kerr has been in stellar form for club and country, Portland Thorns’ Hayley Raso has found her goalscoring boots since the Tournament of Nations while Steph Catley and Alanna Kennedy have been crucial to Orlando Pride’s charge towards the NWSL finals.
However, it is Katrina Gorry, who plies her trade in Japan who has emerged as one of the major components of the Matildas side. The key playmaker, Gorry has found a level of consistency for clubs and country that has been beneficial.
Against Brazil, she will be one of the main suppliers of the ball to Australia’s potent forwardline. Her potential battle with Marta could also be a factor as the player that gets on top can cause all sorts of headaches for the opposition defence.
BRAZIL’S PLAYER TO WATCH: MARTA
For the first time ever, one of the greatest players in women’s football will play on Australian soil.
A five time World Player of the Year, to see Marta Vieira da Silva live will be a real treat for Australian and Brazilian fans alike.
Although the 31 year old has entered the latter part of her career, she has demonstrated that she is still one of the most exciting and effective players in the world.
Playing alongside Catley and Kennedy at Orlando Pride, Marta has been the key factor in the Pride making a strong run for the finals with her 12 goals and 6 assists bringing her into the conversation – along with Sam Kerr – of the NWSL Most Valuable Player.
WHAT TO EXPECT?
Well what you shouldn’t expect is another 6-1 scoreline.
While Australia could only beat who was put out on the park, it has to be noted that Brazil were without several key players in that Tournament of Nations match. Players like Marta, Cristiane, Rafaelle and Andressa Alves. Those are four quality players that return to the Brazilian squad and possibly the starting eleven.
The form line for these two sides predicts a fast paced, attacking game of football between two nations who like to back themselves.
For Australia, their strength lies in the ability to control the tempo and pace of the game. In the past year, the Matildas have become proficient at making other nations play their game while their high defensive pressure has proved effective.
Australia has proved vulnerable in transition and against Brazil that will be tested with the visitors possessing players who can take advantage of any holes at the back. In that situation, Lydia Williams will be a key player with her ability to make world class saves and help out the defence when required.
For a football proud nation like Brazil, receiving a comprehensive defeat at the hands of Australia would have stung and there is an expectation that, even though this is a friendly, they will be fighting to restore some pride.
“They’re bringing all their big guns and it will be a massive challenge,” said Alen Stajcic.
“You’d have to think there will be a bit of retribution from them too.
“We knocked them out of the World Cup and you’re never going to be happy with a team that does that. But they knocked us out of the Olympics. That’s all part of sport.
“There’s no bad blood … it’s a fierce rivalry but all within the spirit of the game.”
The match will be broadcast on Fox Sports and ABC TV
Australia v Brazil
16 September 2017
Pepper Stadium Penrith
Kick off: 3.00pm (AEST)
Last 5 fixtures
8 August 2017: Australia 6 – 1 Brazil (Tournament of Nations)
13 August 2016: Brazil 0 ()– 0 () Australia (Rio Olympic Games)
24 July 2016: Brazil 3 – 1 Australia (Friendly)
22 June 2015: Brazil 0 – 1 Australia (Women’s World Cup)
9 April 2014: Australia 2 – 1 Brazil (Friendly)