FIFA Women's World Cup 2019 Tactical Analysis: Australia vs Brazil
Artwork by @chapulana

As we reach match-day two of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019, we have a very interesting matchup ahead of us. Australia face Brazil in what promises to be a very entertaining match in which both teams play attacking football. In one of the toughest groups of this competition, teams from group C look to get one step closer to getting past the group stage. The Stade de la Mosson in Montpellier looks set to witness a great matchup. Let us take a look and do an analysis at what we should keep an eye out for in this tactical preview using analysis.

Background: Australia

This is a very important game for Australia as they lost their opener to Italy in a match where they were just not up to the mark in a 2-1 defeat. Ranked 6th by FIFA, they have made it to the finals in six of the seven Women’s World Cups. However, the quarterfinals are the farthest they have been in this tournament so far. Ante Milicic’s team will look to make the most of their attacking-prowess against an equally capable Brazilian team.

Background: Brazil

Brazil have won their last match against Jamaica. In a 3-0 victory where Rozeria scored a hat-trick, Brazil were simply dominant in their attack. They have reached all seven finals of the seven worlds cups they have played. In the Copa America Femenina, Brazil showed exactly how much of a threat they were. Scoring 31 goals and conceding just twice, it was an intimidating display by Vadao’s team who now looks to defeat Australia.

Individuals of importance

Australia will look to make the maximum use of star player Sam Kerr. The striker will play as a target woman looking to catch the opposition off-guard. She will always be making runs in, forcing Brazil’s defence to have perfect communication and marking to contain her. In the case that Australia are not able to penetrate the Brazilian defense, Kerr will drop a bit to facilitate the play between the midfield and attack. Her first touch and excellent positional play is an important aspect of this.

Brazil will also have to be very aware when playing the ball out from the back. Kerr is an absolute nightmare for defenders. Throughout the game, she will press without any hesitation and look to gain possession in the opposition’s half. With her pressing, either the ball will have to be played from the back or it will have to be lobbed forward which won’t guarantee keeping possession.

Brazil’s star player is their captain Marta. Five-time world player of the year, Marta is one of the best and most consistent players in the competition. The 33-year-old striker is an absolute menace. Her quick feet, great positioning, accurate and powerful shots together combine for a deadly array of skills. She is equally capable with both feet and can also play on the right-wing and deliver excellent balls into the box. This presents a dilemma for the Australians as they look to push the opposition wide. However, their full-backs are joined by a midfielder to prevent the opposition being in a 1v1 situation.

The systems

The Matildas are an unforgivingly attacking team. Their 4-3-3 formation is a flexible one where each player has a role in the attack. Apart from the usual attacking players, the full-backs do drift forwards which is not uncommon to see. However, using tactical analysis an interesting point to note is that one of the two central-defenders will also look to move up the pitch with the defensive midfielder taking her place.

FIFA Women's World Cup 2019 Tactical Analysis: Australia vs Brazil
Australia will switch from a 4-3-3 to a 3-4-3 with the defensive midfielder dropping back.

Australia are particularly vulnerable to quick passing which is to the Brazilian’s advantage. But due to the high-energy pressing by the Australian’s they look to regain possession very quickly. This pressing often causes a very good attacking chance to be created as the same pressing also means a lot of players are available to pass to once possession is gained. But apart from this, Australia are very quick in attack with their full-backs overlapping whenever possible.

Brazil will be a handful for the Matildas with their short and quick passes, direct attacking play and overloading tendencies. When attacking, they will play short quick passes with players constantly making forwards runs. This forces the marker to run a lot and the overall opposition team to work hard to intercept the ball or dispossess a player. This simple yet effective passing of the Brazilians will be a threat to the Matildas, especially in the final third. They will also look to make the most use of Andressa’s pace down the left.

FIFA Women's World Cup 2019 Tactical Analysis: Australia vs Brazil
Brazil’s players will look to pass and make attacking runs on and off-the-ball to create overloads.

Many times, the Brazilians will look to execute a basic strategy which has low risk involved. They will look to pass and move as mentioned earlier. Now, near the edge of the box, they will look to achieve numerical superiority. Then the wingers will cross the ball into the box with players looking to make the most out of it. What this does is it forces the opposition to get players back to defend. If the ball is headed out of the box, Brazil will still have a player looking to get the second-ball in a 1v1 situation as far as possible.

This player will then look to recycle possession and pass the ball towards the wings or into the box. This makes sure that the attack is sustained. However, to counter this, Sam Kerr is the ideal player. She will be available to be passed to as a striker. Her previously mentioned first-touch will then prove useful to get her away from her marker and score. If she is in a 1v2 situation, she will either drive forward and hold-up the ball or pass into areas of the pitch where the condition is favourable.

FIFA Women's World Cup 2019 Tactical Analysis: Australia vs Brazil
Brazil will look to sustain their attacking play with a player on the edge of the box and another on the wings looking to lob the ball into the box.

One of Brazil’s most useful and recurring systems is where the ball is played up the field by the full-back. Their midfielders rarely drop back to collect the ball but look to increase chances of winning the second-ball with numerical superiority. This is a threat to Australia because as mentioned before, they press aggressively and can be caught on the break.

Tactical Analysis

Throughout this analysis, we can observe that these two teams are very, very well matched. For example, Australia’s aggressive pressing might be countered by Brazil’s quick passes, Brazil’s sustained attacking play and Australia’s quick transitional play etc. The match looks to be a very energetic one with two teams that have attacking philosophies. Both teams are world-class in their own right. However, in the end, the team that will win will be the one that doesn’t necessarily start out strong but adapts to the opposition.