In the last contest of the day, Brazil and Australia will square off at 9:00 pm ET. The game will take place at Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte. Last summer, the Aussies sent Brazil packing from the World Cup early with a 1-0 victory in the Round of 16 of that tournament courtesy of a late Kyah Simon goal. Brazil obviously would love to get revenge from that shocking defeat, but more importantly, the hosts want to earn a medal on home soil. The Australians, meanwhile, want to show that they’re over their slow start to the Olympics and back to their World Cup form.
BEST PRIOR OLYMPIC FINISH
Brazil- Silver Medal in 2004 & 2008
Australia- Quarterfinals in 2004
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Brazil – It might be an unimaginative pick, but the player to watch for the hosts is certainly Marta. Undoubtedly, she can single-handedly dismantle a team. With fans swapping Neymar’s name for hers on their jerseys, this is Marta’s moment.
Australia -When healthy, Sam Kerr is easily one of the best forwards in the world. Lately, however, staying healthy has been the issue for the 22-year-old, who’s already in her fourth season in the NWSL. As Kerr continues to build fitness throughout the tournament, she’ll only get more dangerous. She gave Canada fits in the opener and bagged a goal against Germany.
UNDER THE RADAR
Brazil- Young, confident, with the ankle-breaking skills, it could be Andressa Alves who plays the hero for Brazil Friday. As Australia tries to contain the ever dangerous Marta, that may open space for the Andressa Alves to operate.
Australia- If the Matildas are to move onto the semifinals, it’s going to take a massive performance by the back line to deny Brazil again. Enter: Alanna Kennedy and Laura Alleway. The pair got caught out of sorts when Canada’s Janine Beckie scored the quickest goal in Olympic history, though. If Australia equals its feat from last year’s World Cup, their center backs will have to put in a solid shift.
OVERVIEW: Two things seem certain heading into Friday’s Quarterfinal, between hosts Brazil and Australia: 1) there will be a lot of green and gold in the stadium; and 2) fans will be feeling a bit of deja vu as the game is a rematch of last summer’s World Cup Round of 16 in which the Aussies shockingly sent Brazil packing.
Both Brazil and Australia have very talented attacks. The two sides, however, are talented in different ways. Australia, relies on a high-octane offense orchestrated through pacy forwards like Sam Kerr and Lisa De Vanna, who leave even the best defenders yearning for the final whistle. After a disappointing 2-2 draw against Germany, though, the Matildas still need to work on finishing. The hosts, meanwhile, dazzle with their attacking flair and technical brilliance, led by the one and only Marta.
The key to Friday’s matchup will be, which side is able to stay organized and keep their shape defensively. Brazil, in part, due to a lack of time together as a squad, are prone to breakdowns defensively. Brazil’s opponents in Friday’s contest, meanwhile, let a two-goal lead against Germany disappear during the second game in the group.
Of course, another possible factor is the atmosphere. With the Brazilian men’s lackluster results frustrating the soccer mad country, many in the host nation are pinning their hopes for a medal on the women. Unlike their male counterparts, the women are not wilting, but flourishing with the new and overdue support of their compatriots. The Matildas for their part, seem to embrace the underdog role. Last summer, Australia gave the United States one of their biggest challenges en route to their World Cup victory, in front of a very pro-American crowd.
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