Tournament co-hosts Australia are looking to make the last four of the Women’s World Cup for the first time in their history when they take on France in the quarter-finals in Brisbane on Saturday.
The Matildas have taken time to get going in their home tournament, edging Ireland 1-0 in their opener before losing 3-2 to Nigeria to put them on the brink of an early elimination.
However, wins over Canada and Denmark have sparked optimism in the Australia camp and they will be hoping to pull off a shock win against France in front of nearly 50,000 at the Suncorp Stadium this weekend.
Australia’s star player Sam Kerr is set to start her first game for the Matildas at this Women’s World Cup after recovering from a calf injury.
Maelle Lakrar was absent against Morocco but should be fit for France, although she may have to settle for a spot on the bench.
Australia to win @ 5/2
France began their Women’s World Cup campaign with a frustrating 0-0 draw against a plucky Jamaica side in Group F, but they bounced back to beat both Brazil (2-1) and Panama (6-3) to take top spot in their section.
They followed that with a routine 4-0 thrashing of minnows Morocco and look in fine shape ahead of this quarter-final matchup.
However, Les Bleues have only reached the last four of a Women’s World Cup on one occasion themselves and must prepare to face up against what will be essentially a full-house of Australian supporters.
The Brisbane crowd will recognise the importance of getting behind this Australia team and the home advantage element of this match should not be ignored.
With Kerr back, Australia will be even more dangerous and, although it was just a pre-tournament friendly, they got the better of France 1-0 on home soil only last month.
That should work in their favour from a psychological perspective and the tournament co-hosts look overpriced to prevail.
Over 2.5 goals @ 6/5
Australia can win this contest but the French will not go down without a fight and punters should expect goals at the Suncorp Stadium.
Goals have been at a premium at this Women’s World Cup but Australia and France have been involved in a number of high-scoring matches.
While France have racked up 12 goals in their last three contests, Australia have scored at least twice in three of their last four matches, putting four goals past Canada in the group stage.
Kerr’s return enhances Australia’s attacking threat, while France can call on Kadidiatou Diani, who had more goal involvements than any other player at the Women’s World Cup heading into the tournament’s quarter-finals.
Each of France’s last three matches at the Women’s World Cup have featured over 2.5 goals and the same applies to two of Australia’s last three contests, so back this match to also feature at least three goals.