Australia commence their 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup campaign against Italy at the Stade du Hainaut in Valenciennes on Sunday (kick off 7:00pm WST).
The Matildas arrived in France on Wednesday and have since been finalising their preparations for the opening match of Group C against world No.16-ranked Le Azzurre.
Australia fine-tuned their World Cup preparations in June with an excellent block of training in Antalya, Turkey, in which fitness and playing style were two of head coach Ante Milicic’s primary focuses.
Those ideals were applied throughout last Sunday’s international friendly hit-out against European champions the Netherlands, a sold-out encounter in Eindhoven which offered Milicic one final opportunity to assess his players in action before the tournament begins.
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However, with the tournament kicking off as hosts France entertain Korea Republic on Saturday morning (3:00am WST), the anticipation and excitement is palpable as Australia enters its seventh World Cup.
Italy – coached by former defender Milena Bertolini – have qualified for the World Cup for the first time in two decades and will provide the Matildas with stern competition to begin their Group C campaign.
Le Azzurre have been one of Europe’s big improvers over the last couple of years, possessing quality at the back in the shape of captain and Juventus star Sara Gama, Elena Linary – who won La Liga Femenina with Alex Chidiac’s Atletico Madrid – and in forward Ilaria Mauro, an experienced operator who played alongside Matildas midfielder Elise Kellond-Knight at German top-flight club 1.FFC Turbine Potsdam in 2015.
But you can be assured that the Matildas – boasting the likes of Sam Kerr, Caitlin Foord, Clare Polkinghorne, Ellie Carpenter and Hayley Raso – will be ready to face the Italians head on when the referee’s whistle blows to get their FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019™ campaign underway.
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Italy captain Sara Gama (left) and goalkeeper Laura Giuliani (right) will be charged with nullifying the Matildas attack
What they said
“It’s a tournament you work four years to get to, but in reality ever since we started playing football this is what we’ve been working towards.
“The World Cup is the pinnacle of our sport, it is something that everyone dreams of playing in and very few get the opportunity to do so.”
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Australia’s last five matches: WWWLL
Italy’s last five matches: WLDWW
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Caitlin Foord (left) and Sam Kerr will be key options for coach Ante Milicic in France
How to watch
Tune in to SBS to cheer on the Matildas on free-to-air TV, with kick-off at 7:00pm WST on Sunday, June 9.
You can also watch on Optus Sport, with the broadcaster showing all 52 games of the tournament live.
You can follow all the build-up and live updates at www.matildas.com.au, or on the Matildas’ Twitter, Facebook and Instagram pages.
It all begins on Sunday night, 7:00pm WST. Can you feel the tension?