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The Good, the Bad & the Ugly: Matildas v Italy

by Ben Somerford on Jun 10, 2019

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The Matildas’ 2019 Women’s World Cup got off to a poor start on Sunday going down 2-1 after a 95th minute winner against Italy in Valenciennes.

It was a game that sixth-ranked Australia expected much better, minimum a draw, which seemed likely entering into second-half stoppage-time.

And with the Matildas opening the scoring through Sam Kerr, the second-half turnaround left everyone scratching their heads and wondering if Australia can progress to the knockout stage.

Next up the Matildas play 10th ranked Brazil on Thursday. Before then, GGArmy’s Ben Somerford looks at the good, the bad and the ugly from the Italy loss.

The Good
Ellie Carpenter was a shining light at right-back, offering an extra layer of threat to the Matildas’ attack. Australia weren’t short on opportunities, with 17 attempts including seven on target.

Arguably, Australia were wasteful in attack, with Kerr not pulling the trigger enough. There were long periods in this match where the Matildas were on top, particularly late in the first half. The next step is converting that dominance into a significant lead.

Caitlin Foord, Emily van Egmond and Chloe Logarzo all had excellent chances to score during the contest and they may feel next time they would’ve done better. The good news is, they were creating those opportunities.

The Bad
Australia’s high defensive line was caught out on numerous occasions trying to catch Italy offside. On numerous occasions, the assistant referee belatedly raised her flag but it was a worrying sign, with Italy finding space in behind the Australian defence.

It is clear that coach Ante Milicic wants to persist with a high line but it isn’t quite embedding cohesively among the back four. And now isn’t the time to be having teething problems with a new defensive system but that’s the nature of his February appointment after the controversial Alen Stajcic dismissal.

Italy had two goals disallowed for offside. It’s easy to wave this off given the goals weren’t legal but allowing so much space in behind the defence is a major risk moving forward and better teams might time their runs just that little bit better.

The Ugly
Italy’s equalizer was a disaster. Milicic and the Matildas’ persistence on playing out from the back is beginning to irk some supporters and it was in this act that Clare Polkinghorne’s poor first touch allowed Barbara Bonansea a sniff.

But the ensuing events hardly helped with Polkinghorne initially not realizing her mistake and creating a 50-50 with Bonansea which she lost before Alanna Kennedy, as can be her tendency, over-committed. The Italian cruised past her before a fortuitous strike, slipping as she struck the ball, which nutmegged the onrushing van Egmond and into the corner of the net. Dear oh dear.