Between the World Cup and the Olympics, the latter can easily be argued as the harder tournament physically. For teams who make it from the first match to the last, they can end up playing six games in seventeen days.
In comparison to the last Women’s World Cup, that tournament required one more match to reach the finals, but allowed an extra eleven playing days.
Should the Matildas or any other team in the tournament reach the finals, they will be playing a match every three days, with two days rest between each match.
The only exception is for the two teams that make the gold medal match. They will have three rest days between the semi-finals and the final.
The only tournament equivalent in games and length is the AFC Women’s Cup, which the Matildas will play in next year. However, like the Euro and the World Cup, that tournament allows for squad sizes of 23 players.
It has therefore never made much sense that arguably the most difficult tournament to contest from a physical perspective, also allowed for the smallest roster.
The Olympic tournament allowed for squad sizes of 18 players. Four extra players could be named as alternates. They could only be called in as players in the event of an injury to a regular squad member who would then be eliminated from the remainder of the tournament.
However, after pressures made by several national associations, FIFA announced last Friday that the 4 extra players would now be allowed to be part of the full squad, expanding the roster to 22 players.
While only 18 players will still be allowed to be named to game day squads, this will give more flexibility to coaches to rotate players as needed.
It will be a welcomed change not only to reduce chances of injury, but also to deal with the high heat and humidity which teams are expected to face in Tokyo.
For Australia this means that Mackenzie Arnold, Charlotte Grant, Laura Brock and Courtney Nevin can now be used by Gustavsson throughout the tournament.
While this change will affect Australia negatively in their final group stage match against the US, due to the increased amount of talent the US will be able to rotate, arguably greater competition is welcomed over fatigue and injury prone conditions.