Australia-Norway, Wednesday 6 July, Leverkusen, 18.00 CET
World champions in 1995 and having successfully negotiated the group phase on all six of their previous FIFA Women’s World Cup appearances, Norway find themselves in a very delicate position this time around. They are currently level on three points with final Group D opponents Australia, after both teams beat Equatorial Guinea by one-goal margins and lost to Brazil in their opening games.
However, the Norwegians’ heavier defeat against A Seleção, 3-0 compared to 1-0, means that the Aussies will progress with a draw in Leverkusen while only three points will do for coach Eli Landsem’s charges. Should Norway fail to reach the last eight, they will also drop out of contention for a place at the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament London 2012, with Germany 2011 supplying two passages for European nations.
The Matildas, for their part, gave a very good account of themselves in both their previous encounters. That was particularly the case in the narrow loss to Brazil, with coach Tom Sermanni’s team pushing the China 2007 runners-up all the way. “They’re a young side and play a very dynamic brand of football,” Canarinha captain Aline told FIFA.com. “Australia have a great chance of going very far in this competition.”
Norway and Australia also met at the group stage in China four years’ ago, drawing 1-1 in their second Group C game. The sides went on to qualify for the knockout stages as section winners and runners-up respectively, though only one can avoid an early exit here in Germany.
0 – The number of times Norway have lost against Australia, having beaten the Matildas in three friendlies and drawn the aforementioned game on Chinese soil.
“We’ve got a great team, over and above the 11 starters, so we’ll make a few changes for the Norway game. There may be three or four new faces to give us that bit of extra freshness,” Australia coach Tom Sermanni.
“Australia have a very good team. It’ll be an extremely tough game. We’ll have to work really hard in attack and move the ball around a lot. But I still think that, despite everything, we can take some positive lessons from the match against Brazil. We’re confident we can qualify for the quarter-finals,” Norway coach Eli Landsem.