How Lionesses now face epic battle against host country Australia in bid to reach historic World Cup final | The Sun

How Lionesses now face epic battle against host country Australia in bid to reach historic World Cup final | The Sun

August 12, 2023

ENGLAND are just one win away from reaching an historic first Women's World Cup final.

But standing in the way of the Lionesses is an inspired Australian side roared on by their adoring nation.

Sarina Wiegman's European champions secured their place in a third-consecutive World Cup semi-final with a nervy comeback win over Colombia on Saturday.

In 2015, they lost to Japan and four years ago it was the United States who ended England's run.

Now with a load of European champions in the squad – and more watching on from the sidelines ruled out by injury – England will be desperate to go one better and reach next Sunday's final in Sydney.

Can they get the better of the Aussies, though?


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Australia – nicknamed the Matildas – will have virtually the entirety of the 80,000 fans inside the Sydney Olympic Stadium cheering on the tournament co-hosts.

And there will be another 26million across the country baying for the Lionesses' blood, with an electric atmosphere in Sydney in the raucous build-up to the biggest football match in the country's history.

Australia have well and truly captured the heart and the imagination of their adoring population.

That was clear to see with the viral video taken from an aeroplane at the end of their quarter-final showdown with France – which showed everyone but one Lord of the Rings fan watching the finale on their screens.

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A tense 0-0 draw after extra-time meant it went to penalties – and the record-breaking shootout was full of utter drama.

Goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold was one of two Aussie players to squander the chance to seal victory before Cortnee Vine eventually tucked away the 20th spot kick to seal the 7-6 win.

As well as facing the Aussies in their own backyard, England will also be going up against one of the very best footballers in the world.

Australia's talismanic superstar forward Sam Kerr – a four-time WSL winner with Chelsea and her country's record goalscorer – is struggling with injury at the tournament.

The captain came off the bench in the quarter-final win over France but may well be ready to start from the outset against England on Wednesday.

The chaotic win over France, Kerr back to full fitness and the hopes and dreams of a nation will all undoubtedly help spur Australia on.

But while England may go into the game as underdogs – after all, Wiegman's only loss as boss came against the Aussies – they will not be overawed despite the hostile reception awaiting them in Sydney.

This is a team that has learned how to win tough – as demonstrated by coming from behind against Colombia and surviving with ten players against Nigeria in their last two matches to reach the final four.

And their experiences in going all the way to Euros glory and World Cup heartache in previous tournaments could prove critical against the Matildas competing in their very first World Cup semi-final.

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