Ahead of the Women’s World Cup 2023, BestofBets profiles host nation Australia, AKA the Matildas, and examines how they are set to break new ground at the tournament.
The phrase ‘golden generation’ with regard to a certain country’s much-heralded batch of players can often end in anti-climax.
Think England’s vaunted men’s side of the 2000s; David Beckham, Paul Scholes and company. Think Belgium’s recent underperformers under Roberto Martinez.
However, might it be the Matildas to buck that trend in their home World Cup?
It’s finally time. 23 different paths led to this… 🛣️
— CommBank Matildas (@TheMatildas) July 3, 2023
Under pressure to finally deliver, manager Tony Gustavsson is tasked with getting the best from a talent pool that is among the strongest in the tournament.
Previous efforts at the Tokyo 2020 and the 2022 Asia Cup saw Australia fall short.
“Sometimes you’re not as bad as people say you are when you lose, but you’re not as good as people say you are when you win, either,” Gustavsson said after his side broke England’s incredible 30-game unbeaten run in April.
It reflected his phlegmatic approach, but that won’t hold muster if Gustavsson’s side don’t reach at least a semi-final this summer (or winter, as it is down under).
That 2-0 win over the Lionesses, and recent sparkling form, has proven the Matildas are as good as anyone on their day.
In recent weeks, Gustavsson has been keen to move away from an approach that basically amounts to ‘give it to Sam Kerr’.
The Chelsea player might be the Matildas’ best player – she’s certainly the most recognisable and widely acclaimed – but they have quality elsewhere.
The emphasis must be on the team rather than basing their philosophy around the striker.
Kerr does, however, hold the Australian record for international goals and is coming off a sensational individual and team season in the WSL with Chelsea.
How many goals will Sam Kerr score at the World Cup? 🇦🇺 pic.twitter.com/amEkhh5lwU
— 90min (@90min_Football) July 17, 2023
“Even more valuable to this team is what she gives as a person and how she carries them,” Gustavsson said of Kerr’s off-field impact, which he says is “amazing”.
If Kerr leads Australian glory on home soil, world fame as a sportsperson beckons.
Having been former finalists but never hosts, the Matildas, in 2023, could be on the verge of something very special.
Women’s World Cup 2023 betting odds
So, can the Matildas actually win the World Cup?
The bookies don’t believe so.
Australia are down as fifth or sixth favourites with most bookmakers, at 10/1 to win the tournament outright.
Three-peat-chasing USA are leading the pack (inevitably) at 5/2 with most bookies, with England, Spain and Germany considered the greatest threats to American dominance.