The Matildas, having survived the so-called group of death now face Team G.B in the quarter-finals of the Tokyo Olympics.
The final group game against the U.S.A was fortuitously a 0-0 draw. In a quirk of tournament football, a win would have put the Aussies in second and up against The Netherlands.
The same team that brutally dismantled their group with 21 goals in three games and humbled a rusty Australia 5-0 earlier this year.
Team G.B is not to be taken lightly, but like Australia, they are a team still approaching their best form. They won their group with a 2-0 over Chile, a 1-0 win over Japan, and a 1-1 draw with Canada.
Both sides will enter this game confident of a result, but based on the last World Cup, Australia has had the better preparation in the group stages and will be battle-hardened.
Australia has many key players based in the English FAWSL and as with the U.S game, they know that they can match them at the very least.
This is a quarter-final between two pretty well-matched teams and nobody is confident to sing “It’s coming home” in England.
Keys to Victory:
The Matildas have been steadily improving since Gustavsson has taken charge.
Unbowed by the early thrashings by Germany and The Netherlands, Australia has slowly developed various game plans and types of lineups.
Against Team G.B they will need to be near their best. It sounds obvious but Australia will need to score goals, conceding is not an area that the British are experienced in.
Team G.B has only conceded once in three games but Japan is a youthful and inexperienced side, Chile is struggling in their rebuild and Canada was played with qualification secured.
Conversely, Australia has multiple forwards who have played themselves into form. Mary Fowler was revelatory against the U.S. She demanded the ball, tried to create chances, and came closest with a header that bounced off the crossbar.
Kyah Simon had put a tough season behind her to be a creative force. She pulled the strings against New Zealand and provided a perfect assist for Sam Kerr to score against Sweden.
Caitlin Foord is coming off the form of her career at Arsenal. She has become a scorer and a creator in London and the British will be wary of what she can do if fit.
Add in the returning Chloe Logarzo and the growing confidence of Kyra Cooney-Cross and Australia has the tools to trouble Team G.B in a way that their recent opponents have not so far.
Fran Kirby made her return to the field against Canada and it could not be worse timed for Australia.
The Chelsea playmaker had a prolific season, she was responsible for 16 goals and 11 assists over the run to the league title.
If she is fit to start against The Matildas, she will be a very tricky player to contain. She can pop up on either flank, drop deep and be dangerous in the box.
Aside from Kirby, Lucy Bronze has also been in good touch. The Manchester City fullback set up both goals for Ellen White against Chile in the opening game with perfect crosses.
If she is allowed to get forward in space she is damaging. Australia will have to work hard to contain her and if fit Caitlin Foord might be required to do more defensive duties than she has been.
Ellen White is in goal-scoring form. Two in the opening game and another against Japan mean that she cannot be ignored. She is a wonderful finisher but stopping or maintaining supply to her is the key for both sides.
Kerr is the current golden boot holder in England. She was in the 2021 WSL team of the season and will be the main threat to Team G.B.
The Matildas’ captain has scored three times in the Olympic tournament so far and knows that she can deliver against the British opposition.
Kerr showed time and time again that she can out jump, out sprint, and outwork the same defenders she will come up against on Friday. They will be planning around her.
Even if she is not the one to hit the scoreboard. Her presence, if utilized well, will open up space for others. Fowler found room against the U.S.A and Simon had opportunities against New Zealand.
Only Tameka Yallop has been able to take full advantage of the space Kerr can provide. Her goal against The Football Ferns was a perfect example of players running off Kerr instead of relying on her to do it all.
Whether she is the scorer, the one to assist, or being used as an unlikely decoy of sorts, Sam Kerr will be the main player in the quarterfinal.
Australis vs Great Britain, Olympic Quarterfinal
Date: Friday, July 30
Venue: Kashima Stadium