Buidling Dreams Together


Women’s World Cup 2023: semi-final match preview: Australia v England

The Women’s World Cup semi finals begin in midweek as co-hosts Australia face European champions England at the Accor Stadium in Sydney on Wednesday.

These sides both came through gruelling quarter finals to reach the last four, as Australia eventually triumphed against France following an epic penalty shootout, whilst their opponents came back from a goal down to beat Colombia 2-1.

Tony Gustavsson’s side collected six points from their three group matches, with a final round victory over Canada rubber-stamping their ticket to the knockouts following a surprise 3-1 reverse to Nigeria in their second match. 

Denmark were comfortably beaten 2-0 in the last-16 before a closely-fought encounter with France on Saturday morning.

Both teams traded presentable openings throughout contest, with Matildas attacker Mary Fowler going closest to breaking the deadline in 180 minutes. The dimunitive forward was thwarted on the goalline by Elisa De Almeida.

Cortnee Vine converted the crucial spot-kick after a marathon series of penalties in which both teams had the chance to emerge victorious.

The 2023 vintage have become the only Austrailian outfit in football history to reach the last four of a World Cup, and the first host nation to progress past the last eight stage in 20 years.

Sarina Wiegman’s England have had an even rockier route to the semi-finals. 

Two unconvincing group stage victories over Haiti and the Danes, were punctuated by a knee injury to key midfield driving force Keira Walsh in the second game.

A 6-1 trouncing of China in the remaining match ensured that they won Group D.

The last-16 saw Nigeria dominate for large periods and go close several times, before England winger Lauren James, so influential against Denmark and China was shown a straight red for standing on an opponent. The Lionesses advanced after another tight shootout.

More adversity awaited in the quarter final meeting with Colombia – the South Americans took a 45th minute lead. 

Lauren Hemp replied via a goalkeeping calamity late in first half stoppage time, before Alessia Russo sealed the win with a neat finish after the break.

Wednesday will be England’s third consecutive major tournament semi-final. Wiegman’s troops will lean on such history to try and secure a maiden World Cup final berth.

Team News

As ever, the name on Australian lips is Sam Kerr. The Chelsea forward appeared from the bench against France and scored in the shootout, so the Matildas’ captain may well play from the off here.

The co-hosts have no other injury concerns so they are likely to lineup in their familiar, disciplined 4-4-2 shape. 

The yellow-ribboned Hayley Raso and Caitlin Foord will provide reliable support from the flanks for a front-pairing of Fowler and Kerr. 

Left-back Steph Catley and goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold represent equally talismanic figures for Australia, and they may both be dependable cast members in any potential penalty shootout drama.

England are at near full strength themselves ahead of Wednesday’s meeting, minus the suspended James.

 Keira Walsh’s minutes will have to be managed, though she should be fit to start alongside Georgia Stanway in central midfield.

Walsh’s Barcelona teammate Lucy Bronze and Aston Villa’s Rachel Daly will be charged with creating the width in Wiegman’s 3-4-1-2 shape.

 Ella Toone will occupy the half-spaces in the no.10 role and load the bullets for Russo and Hemp.

Alex Greenwood will need to be watchful of Kerr on the left side of the Lionesses’ back three.

Likely lineups and prediction

Australia (4-4-2)

Arnold; Carpenter, Hunt, Kennedy, Catley; Raso, Gorney, Cooney-Cross, Foord; Fowler, Kerr

England (3-4-1-2)

Earps; Carter, Bright, Greenwood; Bronze, Stanway, Walsh, Daly; Toone; Russo, Hemp

England are veterans at the business end of tournaments. The European champions may have just enough nous to edge past a burgeoning Matildas’ outfit and a hugely partizan crowd after 120 minutes. An open and highly entertaining second semi-final is likely to be in store for the millions watching.

3-2 to England after extra time