Both teams need to change tack
Australia v Brazil promises to be one of the most fascinating encounters of this World Cup so far. Both teams will probably want to tailor their approach compared to match day one. In their shock defeat to Italy, Australia played with a very high defensive line. After being sliced open by simple through balls on several occasions, the Matildas reverted to a deeper block, but still struggled to deal with Juventus winger Barbara Bonansea.
Meanwhile, Vadão‘s Brazil side went for a very offensive 4-2-4 formation against Jamaica, with Andressa Alves and Debinha playing as wide forwards either side of hat-trick heroine Cristiane and Beatriz. This left Formiga and Thaís very isolated in central midfield and though they were able to adopt this approach against Jamaica, they won’t get away with it against Australia.
Australia look to create numerical superiority in midfield through deep-lying midfielders Emily van Egmond and Tameka Yallop, who like to entice opposing forwards to press with short combination passes. However, with 34-year old Cristiane, 41-year old Formiga and 33-year old Marta in those areas, it’s probably not a trap Brazil will fall into.
Will Marta Be Passed Fit?
For Brazil, much of the attention is on whether Marta will be fit. Their win over Jamaica was their first in 10 games and, frankly, they looked more of a unit without her, even if Cristiane’s hat-trick was an impressive individual feat. Australia looked too beholden to the efforts of super star striker Sam Kerr, who has now scored 24 goals in her last 27 international appearances for her country.
Debinha and Barcelona’s Andressa Alves have a tendency to swap flanks, but either one might fancy a stint on the left-hand side. Australia push right-back Ellie Carpenter very high up the pitch. If Marta is passed fit, she will likely replace Beatriz and start in a number 10 role floating behind Cristiane. But Marta might consider drifting over to the left-hand side where Australia leave a lot of space.
Kerr To Exploit Brazil’s Lack of Pace
That said, Brazil have suffered a few injuries in defence and their back-line is both unfamiliar and lacking in pace, which is bad news when facing the speed and poise of Sam Kerr, who is arguably the finest forward in the world at the moment. Brazil will be slightly more enterprising than Italy who, the Matildas might reason, scored from two preventable errors. Australia are better set up to play a team like Brazil and create swift transitions.
With the likes of Kerr, Marta and Cristiane on show and neither side convincing in defence, it would be a brave punter toBrazil are slow in transition and Australia have lots of running in the final third. I expect Australia’s mobility to be too much for the Seleção Feminina.
When Marta plays, Vadão is often too tempted to funnel all of their attacking game through her and Brazil become slow and predictable, which Ante Milicic‘s team are well placed to exploit.Australia to win and over 2.5 goals at 11/5 looks attractive for the same reason. These sides boast some of the best attacking talent in the world but both have suspect defences.
Expect This To Be A Shootout Between Two Star Studded Attacks
Exactly two goals at half-time at 11/4 also looks interesting- whether it be tied at 1-1 or because Australia have taken a two-goal lead. However,the Matildas were even clearer favourites against Italy on match day one and lost. I expect this game to become a bit of a shootout, so if Brazil are to prosper, backing them to win and over 3.5 goals at 7/1 is as good a tip as any.
In my opinion, Brazil will have a better chance if they aren’t tempted to rush a half-fit Marta back into the fray. Were I Vadão, I would drop Beatriz for another central midfielder and rely on the pace and energy of Debinha and Andressa either side of Cristiane upfront, transitioning between a 451 and a 433. I don’t think that is what Vadão will do, so I think Australia will get off the mark with three points.
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