The Matildas want to emulate England’s spectacular home soil Euros triumph in this year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup.
But Lionesses captain Millie Bright has no plans of letting that happen.
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The Matildas’ run to the final four has captivated the imagination of the entire nation, much like England’s home surge last year.
England will meet Australia in tonight’s semi-final at Stadium Australia, with a spot in the decider against Spain on the line.
“From a women’s football perspective, it’s brilliant,” Bright told reporters.
Millie Bright faces the media ahead of England’s clash with Australia. Credit: Offside via Getty Images
“It’s staying with the growth of the game and yet again we’ve gone to another level in the tournament.
“We’ve seen that with the crowds and I can’t speak on their behalf of what they’re feeling in their environment, but from our past experiences it was incredible.
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“But for us it was really important to stay focused as well because obviously with noise attention goes elsewhere.
“As much as you know it’s the home nation, it’s also that it’s a pressured environment.
“But yeah, it’s amazing for the game. You want a semi-final to be this way and be so much noise around it, so much support and the fans.”
How did they get there?
England are in their third consecutive FIFA Women’s World Cup semi-final and were among the pre-tournament favourites.
And they are certainly looking like a worrying proposition after a slow start to the tournament.
They won their first game against at Brisbane Stadium against Haiti 1-0, and then had another 1-0 win over Denmark in Sydney.
They then exploded against China, with a thumping 6-1 victory in Adelaide to end their group stage and power into the round of 16.
Nigeria was a trickier proposition but they won 4-2 on penalties, they then had to dig deep to defeat Colombia 2-1 in the semi.
England’s Alessia Russo celebrates with teammates after scoring her side’s second goal during the clash with Colombia. Credit: Getty Images
Can they handle the Matildas heat?
England are playing the Matildas at the same venue as the one where they defeated Colombia – Stadium Australia.
And in a worrying sign for Australia, England showed their champion qualities in the quarter-final win, becoming the first side at this tournament to come from behind to win a knockout game.
They had to do so against a vocal Colombian crowd, but England are used to noisy environments and will hold no fear when facing tens of thousands of very loud Australian fans bleeding green and gold and out to turn the arena into a hostile cauldron.
“It was a home game for Colombia and we expect a similar similar crowd (for Australia),” said England boss Sarina Wiegman.
“We’re really looking forward to it, we played Australia in April, so we know them and we’re just really happy that we are through.
England won’t be worried by a pro-Australian crowd. Credit: FIFA via Getty Images
“There’s a lot of spirit and togetherness, I’m really proud of the team.”
Asked about the pressure, Bright said: “There’s pressure every day, every game.
“The pressure starts from the very first game not just the semis, but for us I think we will live in that moment.
“We know as an England team there’s always pressure and it’s something that you embrace and deal with. But for us it’s staying focused, staying on task and sticking to the game plan.
“We’ve experienced moments like this. Tense environments, big stadiums, big crowds and we do thrive in those moments – that gives us energy.
“But ultimately it’s about sticking to tasks and executing the game-plan.”
And what is the England game-plan?
Put simply, England owns the ball and they are accurate.
Their passing accuracy is at 81.9 per cent, compared to the Matildas at 70.7 per cent.
That’s a worrying stat for the Matildas, who, with just 1626 passes to their name, are way behind England with 2757.
Matildas will need to use their speed to break the game open and make the most of their opportunities.
A game of chess is expected with both teams knowing each other’s strengths and weaknesses very well.
Who are England danger players?
Fortunately for the Matildas they do not have to worry about England winger Lauren James. The Chelsea star was handed a two- match ban after stamping on the back of Nigeria’s Michelle Alozie. But who else do the Matildas need to keep a close eye on?
Bright is a Chelsea teammate of Sam Kerr and considered one of the best defenders in the game.
In Bright, England could not have a better person to keep Australia’s forwards in control.
She knows their game.
Bronze is 31-year-old veteran defender with a stack of credibility and accolades to her name.
She has played for powerhouse clubs Barcelona, Manchester City and Lyon and competed at national level since the under-17s.
Like Bright, she also finished inside the top 20 of last year’s Ballon d’Or Feminin (best women’s player in the world).
Lucy Bronze will be one to watch during the clash with the Matildas. Credit: Visionhaus via Getty Images
The Arsenal striker is in strong form for England and needs to be watched closely by Australia’s defenders.
Her match-winning goal in the quarter-final was one of the moments of the tournament so far.
Russo is not only scoring goals, but she’s had an impressive total of three shots on target.
Her combination with attacking partner Lauren Hemp – who has also scored – is dangerous.
How do they line up?
England usually takes the pitch with a 3-4-1-2 formation. After the James ban, they made one change to their starting XI and brought in Ella Toone.
Goalkeeper: Mary Earps (Manchester United).
Defenders: Jess Carter (Chelsea), Millie Bright (Chelsea), Alex Greenwood (Manchester City).
Midfielders: Lucy Bronze (Barcelona), Georgia Stanway (Bayern Munich), Keira Walsh (Barcelona), Rachel Daly (Aston Villa).
Forwards: Alessia Russo (Arsenal), Lauren Hemp (Manchester City), Ella Toone (Manchester United).
Bench: Chloe Kelly (Man City), Bethany England (Tottenham), Niamh Charles (Chelsea), Jordan Nobbs (Aston Villa), Hannah Hampton (Chelsea), Lotte Wubben-Moy (Arsenal), Esme Morgan (Man City), Laura Coombs (Man City), Katie Zelem (Man United), Ellie Roebuck (Man City), Katie Robinson (Brighton & Hove Albon).
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– With Cameron Noakes