Australia vs Italy : In the months following the Italian men’s national team’s failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, Italy’s women helped redeemed the country by winning seven straight matches in their qualification run to the women’s version of the tournament. That blistering streak of form was enough for Le Azzurre to win their qualification group outright with a game to spare, which also brought an end to Italy’s 20-year Women’s World Cup drought.
Australia will begin their 2019 Women’s World Cup campaign on Sunday, June 9 (9pm AEST) against Italy at the Stade du Hainaut in France.
Sharing space in Group C with Australia, Brazil and Jamaica, Italy project to be the third-best team of the foursome. As such, since most of the third-placed teams qualify for the knockout rounds, they have a great shot at advancing. With Italy’s seemingly unbreakable backline (they only gave up four goals in the eight World Cup qualifying matches, two of which came when Italy had already qualified) and some gifted attackers up front, it will be a disappointment if they don’t.
The Matildas come into the tournament ranked sixth in the world, while Italy currently sit 15th ahead of their first Women’s World Cup appearance since 1999.
These two nations have faced each other eight times previously with their first meeting coming in 1997 and both claiming three wins since.
Australia will be strong favourites to claim a fourth victory however as they appear at their seventh straight World Cup.
But even if Italy fall in the group stage, returning to the World Cup after a two decade absence is enough to count the whole experience as a success on its own. It will also serve as an example to the world of the value of legitimate investment in women’s soccer. Though an even stronger example of how much