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Why the Matildas can defy world rankings and beat the U.S.

Sporting News logo Sporting News 6 days ago Josh Thomas

The Matildas have returned to home soil looking to take down world number one the United States.

After beating and drawing with Brazil last month, Australia will face an even sterner test against the USWNT, who will be looking to defend their Women's World Cup crown Down Under in 2023. 

Tony Gustavsson's side have enjoyed a turbulent 2021 but will be desperate to end the year on a high.

Despite currently being ranked 10 places behind the U.S. in the FIFA world rankings, the Matildas are more than capable of pulling off an upset. 

Here's why the Matildas can beat the United States...

Home-ground advantage

After over 18 months, the Matildas played on home soil again in October with 15,000 fans on hand to watch their opening 3-1 win against Brazil

While not quite a sell-out, there was a real energy in the stands from supporters who have fully embraced the squad in recent years. 

Fans will once again need to play their part against the U.S. with an even bigger crowd at Stadium Australia on Saturday the perfect catalyst to an upset. 

A Tuesday night clash in Newcastle could also prove beneficial with a more intimate setting and another healthy turnout likely to give the Matildas a real edge. 

When Australia last played in the Hunter, 12,000 were on hand as the Matildas ran riot in a 5-0 win over Chile - so it's proven to be a happy hunting ground for them. 

Caitlin Foord Matildas © Provided by Sporting News Caitlin Foord Matildas

Returning Matildas stars

Last month the Matildas were without Hayley Raso and Emily Gielnik - two players that bring a lot to Australia's attack. 

Both have overcome minor injuries to return to the squad to face the USWNT and will add a real edge up front. 

Raso links up with the national team after scoring a brace for Manchester City in the Women's Super League last time out, while Gielnik scored against the United States when they faced off in the bronze-medal match earlier this year. 

The Matildas are now close to full strength with the likes of Sam Kerr, Caitlin Foord, Alanna Kennedy and Steph Catley also in this squad. 

A United States team in transition after underwhelming Olympics

While they might still be world number one, the USWNT had to settle for third place at the Toyko Olympics and never looked too likely of leaving Japan with gold. 

They kicked off the tournament with a 3-0 loss against Sweden, were lacklustre in a goalless group stage draw with Australia before losing to Canada 1-0 in the semi-finals. 

While the U.S. have bounced back with a recent 6-0 win over South Korea, the side heads to Australia with one clear eye on building for the future. 

Coach Vlatko Andonovski has named a youthful 22-player squad that is without Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan, Crystal Dunn and Christen Press. 

"We still have a few players out with injuries, so this roster is a mixture of players with a lot of experience in World Cups and Olympics, some who have been a part of the program for a while but who are looking to make their mark in international soccer and a few who are getting a first chance with the national team in an event like this," Andonovski said.

"We've turned the page towards 2023 World Cup qualifying and rarely do we get the chance to test young players in environments filled with adversity, so we need to take advantage of what these two games will offer us."

On paper, this team is more than beatable and there's no reason why the Matildas can't end 2021 with an almighty scalp. 

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