- Australia, China PR and South Africa eye first points at France 2019
- Brazil with a score to settle against their bogey team
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Of the four teams in action on Thursday, only one has any points to their name. The other three - Australia, China PR and South Africa - are therefore feeling the heat ahead of high-stakes showdowns in Paris and Montpellier. Brazil, the exception to the rule, will be aiming to smooth a passage to the last 16 by exacting long-awaited revenge on a troublesome rival.
Australia-Brazil, Group C, Montpellier, 18:00
Team reporter analysis
Pete Smith (AUS)
Australia find themselves with little margin for error after defeat against Italy. As has become customary of late, there were plenty of positives going forward but some areas of real concern in defence. The challenge for new coach Ante Milicic, in just his seventh match, is how best to maximise these attacking strengths while at the same time mitigating his team’s defensive weaknesses. After playing an expansive game with an unusual 4-2-4 formation against Italy, the Matildas may look to revert to a more compact 4-3-3.
Giancarlo Giampietro (BRA)
While the pressure is undoubtedly higher on Australia, Brazil’s players have been openly expressing how much they want a win in this fixture after four straight losses to the Matildas. The win against Jamaica was important for the Seleção to regain their confidence for a clash like this, which has developed into one of the most intriguing rivalries in women’s football.
South Africa-China PR, Group B, Paris, 21:00
Team reporter analysis
Busisiwe Mokwena (RSA)
After the heartbreak of their defeat in the opening match, Banyana Banyana are determined to secure a positive result against China. Although they largely defended well against Spain, they were pushed deep into their own half which led to several mistakes in the box – some of which resulted in goals. Avoiding the same scenario will be vital and South Africa also need to find a solid replacement for the suspended Nothando Vilakazi. Coach Desiree Ellis seems likely to put a strong focus on her wingers and will rely on counter-attacks which have proven fruitful for the team before.
Qian Sun (CHN)
The Steel Roses produced a solid performance against Germany, the world’s second-ranked team. They were especially strong at the back so expect the defensive line-up to remain unchanged. More interesting is what coach Jia Xiuquan will do in attack. China are desperate for all three points in this match but Jia has emphasised how fast and sharp the South Africans can be when they go forward. Finding a balance between attack and defence will be crucial.