Australia entered the tournament thin on options at centreback.
With Clare Polkinghorne ruled out by injury, the main question was who would partner Alanna Kennedy in the centre of defence.
The solution to this was to move left back Steph Catley inside, with midfielder Elise Kellond-Knight taking Catley’s usual role. Otherwise, the rest of Australia’s lineup was as expected against a physical Brazil side, with Emily Gielnik preferred on the right wing.
Brazil meanwhile lined up in a lopsided 4-1-4-1, with left midfielder Debinha moving forward to join lone striker Cristiane in attack when Brazil had possession.
On the opposite flank, Andressa Alves preferred to cut inside on her stronger left foot. This meant that Brazil had a very narrow midfield, and depended heavily on fullbacks Leticia Santos and Tamires to get forward and provide width.
Let’s look at some of the key tactical events.
2v1 against Formiga
Knowing that Australia needed to win to stay in contention to qualify from the group, and wary of the pace of Sam Kerr, Brazil was happy to sit around the halfway line (1) and wait for an Australian error, as shown in the photo below.
Consequently, Australia dominated possession in the opening period, having as much as 69 per cent possession after nine minutes. That being said, possession wasn’t being translated into goalscoring chances, with Australia’s first genuine chance coming from Kerr’s shot in the 36th minute.
Australia lined up in a 4-3-3, with Tameka Yallop and Chloe Logarzo as the box to box midfielders either side of deep playmaker Emily van Egmond.
While Brazil also had three in midfield, only Formiga performed the dirty work of tracking runners; Marta concentrated on creating and Thaisa focused more on blocking passing lanes, for example as shown above, where Catley has the ball (2) but finds a forward pass into Yallop isn’t on.
This frequently left the 41-year-old Formiga outnumbered 2v1 against the relentless running of Yallop and Logarzo (3), which was fine for stopping Australia building through the midfield third but left them at risk of being outnumbered for second balls off a direct pass played into the attacking third.
This was demonstrated for Australia’s first goal, shown below. Here, Logarzo makes a late run into the box off the blindside of Kathellen (4), who is distracted by Kerr’s position (5). Logarzo’s run makes a 2v1 around Yallop’s cross into the box (6), leaving Caitlin Foord free to tap in Logarzo’s flick on (7).