Matildas v England Ultimate Guide

The Matildas will look to achieve Australian sporting history and become the first senior national team reach a FIFA World Cup final when they take on England at Stadium Australia in the semi finals.

Australia vs England for a spot in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup Final. It just had to be.

Two nations with a storied sporting rivalry, which stems back over a century, will finally face off at a World Cup, where the winner will play for the chance to take home the greatest prize in women’s football on Sunday evening.

The Matildas have captured the minds and hearts of the entire nation en route to the semi final, securing their place in the final four with a dramatic penalty shootout victory over France.

Standing in their way of a spot in the final are the Lionesses. The European Champions battled back from a goal behind to defeat Colombia 2-1 last Saturday night, keeping their hopes of a first-ever trip to the final alive.

Over 75,000 fans are expected to pour into Stadium Australia, and thousands more will be willing the Matildas on at live sites sprinkled across the country, while millions tune in from across the globe – setting the scene for one of the biggest matches in the nation’s sporting history.

Ahead of Wednesday night’s semi final, KEEPUP provides a lowdown on everything you need to know about the contest.


Australia v England
 Wednesday, August 16
Venue: Stadium Australia, Sydney
Kick-Off: 8 PM (AEST)
Broadcast: Optus Sport and Channel 7 


Wednesday’s night’s game between Australia and England kicks off at 8pm AEST and will be available live and free on Network Seven, and available to stream for Optus Sport subscribers.


There are no available tickets to purchase – but FIFA resale Platform for tickets is your place to go to check for any already-purchased tickets put back on the market.


Sydney: CommBank Stadium, Allianz Stadium, North Sydney Oval, Mackey Park, outside Stadium Australia, Tumbalong Park (FIFA Fan Festival), Leichhardt Oval, Coachmans Park, Rouse Hill Town Centre, Warrick Lane, The Concourse (Chatswood), Bondi Pavilion, Heffron Park, Mackey Park, Green Square Plaza

Melbourne: Federation Square (FIFA Fan Festival), AAMI Park, Harmony Square, 3 Grace Park Avenue, Springvale (Community Hub)

Brisbane: Riverside Green, South Bank (FIFA Fan Festival)

Far North Queensland: Strand Park

Adelaide: Festival Plaza (FIFA Fan Festival), Memorial Drive

Perth: Forrest Place (FIFA Fan Festival)


Keira Walsh

The heart and soul of the Lionesses, Walsh looms as one of England’s most important players on Wednesday evening.

The Barcelona midfielder became the most expensive player in women’s football when she joined the Catalan giants from Manchester City in 2022 for a record transfer fee of around £350,000.

Walsh has been integral to England’s success over the last few years, playing as a deep lying midfielder and acting as the side’s metronome in the middle of the park.

She’s gone on to play an important role for the Lionesses’ at this tournament, either side of a knee injury against Denmark, which at the time had fans fearing for the worst after Walsh said herself in the immediate aftermath that she thought she “had done her knee”.

The 25-year-old fortunately escaped serious injury, and remarkably returned just over a week later for their Round of 16 penalty shootout victory over Nigeria – starting the clash against the Super Falcons and then, the quarter final win against Colombia.

England coach Sarina Wiegman drastically altered the England formation in wake of her injury against the Danes, going from a 4-3-3 to a 3-4-1-2 in order to cover the star’s absence, but have stuck with said formation since her return – slotting in her alongside fellow midfield gun Georgia Stanway.

KEEPUP’s Teo Pellizzeri believes the combination of Walsh and Stanway is their “greatest strength” and should be a source of concern for the Matildas going into the contest.

“England are going to be incredibly reliant on Stanway and Walsh, tapping into what they tapped into at the Euros,” he said on the latest episode of Dub at the Cup.

“Which is the longer the game goes, the faster they look because their endurance is the best in the world and I think back to Stanway beating Spain in the quarterfinals of the Euros. I think back to Walsh and how she times her efforts in a game in order to exert the right amount.

“There are some players who have amazing GPS numbers, but it’s because they do a lot of meaningless running, whereas Keira Walsh is at the other end of the scale in terms of the intelligence of economy of movement, that’s what concerns me as far as England’s greatest strength. I think it’s Stanway and Walsh against (Katrina) Gorry and (Kyra) Cooney-Cross.”

Alessia Russo

Russo looms as one of England’s most potent attacking threats for the Aussie defence on Wednesday night.

The 24-year-old – who recently signed for Arsenal from Manchester United – has come into her own as the World Cup has progressed, scoring the opening goal in their 6-1 win over China and then the winner against Colombia to book their place in the semi finals.

Russo is expected to lead the line again alongside Lauren Hemp, with Ella Toone sitting in behind the front two as their attacking midfielder, replacing suspended star Lauren James in the XI.

Australia haven’t conceded in their last three games and have kept clean sheets in four of the five games this tournament, setting up a fascinating duel between Russo and co against the Matildas back-line.

Pellizzeri explained: “Russo did score against Colombia and had some good chances in the air, but I feel as though the battle is going to be between Alanna Kennedy and Clare Hunt for who gets to put Russo in their pocket.

“I know she’s signed for Arsenal… but I think the gap between (former Sydney FC star) Remy Siemsen and Alessia Russo is not as big as people might think and in terms of being able to train against a striker that plays in that fashion, I think Kennedy and Hunt will be incredibly well prepared.”

KEEPUP’s Pokuah Frimpong added: “The battle between Russo and Clare Hunt and Alanna Kennedy, I think it’s pretty even there.

“Kennedy and Hunt can certainly shut Russo down because I think Russo at times can fade in games and can sometimes just go a little bit too early or just not make the run.”

Pellizzeri: “They’ve come off shutting down a marginally better striker in (Kadidiatou) Diani in the previous game.

Frimpong: “Certainly, and a more physical player as well and I think that Diani has certainly shown more in her career at this point than Russo, but Russo is still quite young.

“But in saying that Alessia Russo, I think as the tournament has gone on, she has got better.”

Lucy Bronze

There haven’t been many better players in the history of women’s football than Lucy Bronze.

The 31-year-old right-back shapes as another key to victory for England on Wednesday night, given her strong two-way running ability, which is set to cause both the Matildas defence and attack plenty of headaches.

Bronze is tasked with the enormous task of facing one of the great one-two punches this tournament in Steph Catley, and more than likely Caitlin Foord – should she be deployed on the left-wing for a fourth consecutive match.

The Barcelona star became the first English footballer to win the UEFA Women’s Player of the Year in 2019 and was named The Best FIFA Women’s Player the following year.

Bronze has put in tireless shifts in each of England’s five games this tournament, playing all but 20 minutes this World Cup after she was substituted from the field at the end of their 6-1 victory against China.

However, despite her accolades, Pellizzeri believes the Aussie duo will have the better of Bronze on Wednesday night.

In his eyes, if Walsh and Stanway are England’s greatest threat then the right-flank could be the Lionesses’ greatest weakness.

“Do you want my hot take? Australia’s left side of Foord and Catley is going to feast on Lucy Bronze,” he said.

“This is reputation versus reality, and Australia is in the corner of reality. We are seeing Steph Catley in the best form of her career. We’re seeing Caitlin Foord in the best form of her career.

“Lucy Bronze has got a great engine and is physical but I don’t think is the technician that is going to be able to defend that flank.

“If Australia can exploit the white areas, particularly England’s right, Australia’s left, I think (it could be their greatest strength).”


Matildas defence vs England attack

The aforementioned battle between the Australian back-line and England attack looks set to define Wednesday night’s clash.

Despite concerns coming into the tournament, the Matildas’ defence has settled brilliantly, keeping four clean sheets in five games, only conceding three goals against Nigeria in their defeat in Brisbane.

Australia have done well defending as a team in games they’ve won, being able to frustrate opposition sides with their 4-4-2 block and hit on the counter. They’ve been especially hard to break down in games they’ve been able to take the lead early in, particularly against Canada and Denmark.

England will need to find a way through a defence which hasn’t conceded in 318 minutes without the services of James who serves the final game of her two-match suspension – with the onus largely falling to Russo, Hemp and Toone, along with Rachel Daly to break Australia down.

Pellizzeri is confident Australia will be able to hold out, especially coming off a buoyant performance against the French who he believes were a greater challenge for the Matildas defence.

“Australia’s defence has gone to a level that none of us saw coming,” he said.

“They’ve conceded for three games. One of those games went for 120 minutes.

“In terms of the challenges that France were posing with (Vicki) Becho and (Sakina) Karchaoui and the diagonal runs and the intelligence that they played with, I’m not sure that Beth England and Chloe Kelly and Ella Toone and maybe Lauren Hemp is sort of at that same level of ability.

“But I don’t think they pose as consistent a threat to Australia and Australia will be so galvanised by the fact that they beat a French team that is better than this English team to get here and… held a clean sheet against them.”


  • This will be the first ever meeting between Australia and England at the FIFA Women’s World Cup. In their most recent encounter in April 2023, Australia won 2-0 in a friendly, England’s only defeat under Sarina Wiegman so far (P37 W29 D7).
  • England have reached the semi-finals of the FIFA Women’s World Cup for the third consecutive tournament, doing so in 2015 and 2019. The Lionesses however have lost on both previous occasions, losing 2-1 to both Japan and USA.
  • Australia have reached the FIFA Women’s World Cup semi final for the very first time, becoming just the third hosts to reach the final four of the competition after USA did so in both 1999 and 2003.
  • England have faced the hosts of a FIFA Women’s World Cup only once before, beating Canda 2-1 in the quarter-finals in 2015, with current defender Lucy Bronze scoring the winner.
  • Australia have kept a clean sheet in four of their five matches at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup (also a 2-3 loss to Nigeria), with only Germany (6 in 2007), USA (5 in 2015) and Norway (5 in 1995) keeping more shutouts at a single edition.
  • England have scored 10 goals at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, only netting more in a single edition of the tournament in 2019 (13). Of the four remaining teams at this year’s tournament, the Lionesses have the lowest xG total of 8.9.
  • Of the remaining four sides left in this year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup, Australia have averaged both the lowest possession figure (51.4%) and passing accuracy (72.5%), however only Spain have had more shots (132) and touches in the opposition’s box (267) than the Matildas (76 and 138).
  • Against France in the quarter-finals, Australia’s Mary Fowler completed seven of her nine dribbles, only Spain’s Mariona Caldentey against Netherlands (9) and Argentina’s Estefanía Banini against Italy (8) have completed more in a single game this tournament. Among players with 20+ dribbles attempted this tournament, only Spain’s Jenni Hermoso (15/23 – 65.2%) has a higher success rate than Fowler (13/20 – 65%).
  • England’s Georgia Stanway has created 10 chances from open play at the FIFA Women’s World Cup so far, no player has more. Of the three to do so however – Colombia’s Leicy Santos and Spain’s Jenni Hermoso – she is the only player yet to record an assist.
  • Both Lauren Hemp and Alessia Russo scored their second goals of the FIFA Women’s World Cup against Colombia – with Lauren James already on three, England have never had two different players score 3+ goals at a single edition of the tournament before.


All eyes will be on the team sheets once more as Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson juggles with the idea of whether to start, or not start Sam Kerr.

Kerr ramped up her minutes in the quarter final victory over France, coming on for Emily Van Egmond in the second half and getting through her 55 minutes on the pitch unscathed.

The star striker said the plan has always been to ramp up her minutes since returning from a calf injury against Denmark, declaring post game that she is ready to start if her number is called.

Now, it’s just a matter of whether Gustavsson looks to change a winning formula, as the Matildas have won three straight games with the same starting lineup.

Kyah Simon was available against France, but wasn’t brought on despite being branded a game changer and primed for penalty shootout situations by Gustavsson.

Simon hasn’t seen any minutes since tearing her ACL in October, but could be turned to this time around if Wednesday’s contest goes the distance once more.