Australia and Brazil to meet at a fourth Women’s World Cup in a row
Brazil have the historical edge, but Australia have dominated recently
FIFA.com looks at the history and central figures of this always-entertaining contest
Women’s football has seen some long-running rivalries down the years: be it USA-Canada, Sweden-Norway or China PR-Korea DPR. But a less-likely competition has developed between Australia and Brazil, with the latest chapter set to be played out on Thursday in a match brimming with historical and contemporary sub-plots.
Incredibly, the match in Montpellier will be the fourth successive FIFA Women’s World Cup™ in which the two nations have met. Then there is the most recent Women’s Olympic Football Tournament in Rio, when a heaving Estadio Mineirao witnessed the home side edge victory after a tense penalty shoot-out which sent the locals' anxiety levels into overdrive.
Since then, Australia have dominated their opponent, winning the past four matches and scoring an eye-watering 14 goals in the process. But with Brazil ending a losing streak in a 3-0 win over Jamaica and Australia suffering a painful 2-1 defeat against Italy, the form book is proving erratic at best.
Aside from USA and New Zealand, Australia have met Brazil more than any other nation outside Asia. It is a rivalry stretching back to 1988.
Australia v Brazil
Matches played: 18 Australia wins: 9 Draws: 1 Brazil wins: 8 Australia’s biggest win: 6-1 Brazil’s biggest win: 3-0
FIFA.com takes a look at three previous Women’s World Cup meetings and hears from some of the protagonists who are still around.
Brazil 3-2 Australia – 2007 quarter-final, Tianjin
An on-song, Marta-led Brazil collected a 3-2 victory over Australia to set-up a famed semi-final contest against USA. But, in a taste of things to come, the Brazilians found the Aussies a tough nut to crack. In their maiden knockout-stage match, the Matildas twice came from behind to draw level, including a typically dynamic goal from Lisa De Vanna – who remains Green and Gold’s only survivor from that match. There are five Brazilian survivors from 12 years ago, including the three goalscorers - Marta, Cristiane and Formiga.
“No doubt about it. That is a 'little big' rivalry with Australia, and they also know it. Our matches against Australia are always very competitive and physical with players running hard everywhere, every time. This time won’t be any different,” said Brazil forward Cristiane.
Brazil 1-0 Australia – 2011 group match, Monchengladbach
The two nations' opening match at Germany 2011 was a supremely tight affair, ultimately decided by a clinical moment in front of goal from Rosana. Seven Australians are still around from that match in a tournament which marked a new generation of players for the Matildas. It was a contest that had its own quirky individual battle, with Marta up against 16-year-old fullback Caitlin Foord and - between that pairing - honours ending even. The Aussie teenager was eventually named Young Player of the Tournament.
“Brazil are one of my favourite countries to play against. It’s an open game, it’s a fast game, it’s full of flair. I think it will be a great game to watch,” said Australia midfielder Elise Kellond-Knight.
Australia 1-0 Brazil – 2015 Round of 16, Moncton
The recent trend of results was kick-started by this contest played out in drizzly and windy conditions. The Aussies rode their luck on occasions, with Lydia Williams pulling off one highly memorable save. But as the contest swung from end to end, it was Kyah Simon who swept home the winner. The victory was Australia’s first in the knockout stage of the Women’s World Cup and arguably their best-ever at the tournament.
"We know how they like to play, and now it's a matter to try to block the actions in which they are more dangerous. In terms of revenge, however, we need to be smart. We were eliminated by them in 2015, and this served to teach us some lessons. Now it's a matter of using this knowledge to make things right,” said Brazil midfielder Formiga.