Doesn’t last Tuesday seem a long time ago. It was on day four of these Games that Australia held the USA 0-0 in their final Group G match. Since then, the Americans have beaten quarter-final the Netherlands – in a 2019 World Cup final rematch – on penalties and fallen 1-0 to Canada in a major semi-final upset. Megan Rapinoe yesterday lamented her uncharacteristically flat world No 1 side don’t “have that juice that we normally do”.
The Matildas, conversely have been drinking some sort of special concoction since that nil-nil result nine days ago, undoing Team GB 4-3 in extra-time before coming undone 1-0 against Sweden and narrowly missing out on a shot at gold.
So here they are at Kashima Stadium, with all to play for and nothing to lose. Well, it’s not entirely true there is nothing to lose – fourth place might be the most frustrating place to finish at an Olympics. The USA, used to dominance, would be crestfallen to meet such an end. Australia would be similarly so, having come alive in a manner unexpected based on their form as recently as a month ago. To win would mean a first football medal – men’s or women’s – at an Olympics. Actually, it is the first time since Barcelona 1992 an Australian football team has even made a bronze medal match.
Kick-off is 5pm local time. As ever, hit me up with any questions or comments.