2021 was a very interesting year for sports all across the globe. However, despite the difficulties, both domestic and international competitions found a way to move forward and deliver top-quality action to fans.
That’s also the case for Australia’s women’s national soccer team, AKA the Matildas. They played no less than 16 games in 2021 combining friendlies with the Olympics for an unforgettable season. Join us as we analyze the Matildas’ performances in the previous year, as well as trying to predict what 2022 and the 2023 World Cup will bring, according to the lines.
2021 in Numbers for the Matildas
Out of the 16 matches played in 2021, Australia only won three. And while that may sound quite disappointing at a first glance, things aren’t quite like that. Sure, the year started with defeats against Germany and the Netherlands. The Matildas lost 5-2 in Germany and just three days later, the Netherlands claimed a 5-0 victory as well. June came with another defeat against Denmark and a draw in Sweden as the last friendlies before the Olympics.
The Summer Olympics
Luckily though, the Matildas came back to winning ways in what was called “the Group of Death” at the Olympics. Faced against New Zealand, Sweden, and the United States, the girls had to put on their best performances to progress to the knockout phase. And so they did!
After a 2-1 win in the opening match, Australia lost against Sweden and got a goalless draw in front of the USA to qualify for the quarterfinals where they faced United Kingdom’s team. It was 2-2 after 90 minutes thanks to a 89th minute goal from captain Sam Kerr. Then, in the extra time, Australia scored twice to make it 4-2 while the UK got one back through Ellen White to set the final score 4-3.
Making it to the semi-finals marked a historic moment in Matildas’ history and the match against Sweden broke all women’s sports TV viewing records in the country. Over 2.32 million viewers watched to cheer for their team but unfortunately, Sweden got a 1-0 victory.
In the game for the bronze medal, the Matildas played the United States again with high hopes after the group stage draw. After an excellent match with 7 goals scored, the United States managed to win it 4-3 and denied the Matildas the third position.
Despite not winning the bronze medal, fourth place meant the most successful performance at the Olympics, and the Matildas were welcomed as heroes in Australia. Furthermore, the team occupies the 11th spot in the FIFA Women’s World Rankings, very close to the likes of Spain, England, or Brazil.
After the Olympics, the Matildas played a friendly against the Republic of Ireland, in Dublin. Unable to shake off the disappointment of losing to the United States, Australia lost the game in Dublin 3-2. However, things started to pick up again in October then they won 3-1 against Brazil (7th in FIFA rankings) and got a 2-2 just three days later.
The Last Friendlies of 2021 Against the USA
In an attempt to avenge the failed attempt to win the Olympic bronze medal after being defeated by the USA, the Matildas scheduled two final friendlies for 2021 against the American team.
The first match took place on the 27th of November and the USA got a quite comfortable 3-0 win. It seemed like the world number one was simply too tough of an opponent, no matter how hard the Matildas tried. However, a second game was scheduled just three days later and there was no time to soak in disbelief.
So, the Matildas showed a great mobilization for the second game. Despite the early goal from Ashley Hatch in the 5th minute, Australia clearly corrected some of the defensive mistakes that allowed the USA to score three goals in the first game. Slowly, they got back into it, improving their possession and passing accuracy. With the same determination that took them to the Olympics semi-finals, the Matildas kept on pressing and creating chances to finally get the equalizer through Kyah Simon in the 88th minute. The draw was celebrated as a win by the fans and ended the year on a less-negative note for the Matildas.
As Brad King, soccer specialist at Australia-Casino put it: “ It was a crazy final game against the United States. Never before have we seen the Australian public so involved in a friendly soccer match. It’s difficult to predict the outcome of a game like this and even more difficult to give betting tips when your team just lost in the bronze medal match and won 3-0 beforehand. However, I did hope for a comeback as there was nothing left to lose and the girls proved that not giving up and always believing in your chance pays off!”
As Brad King, soccer specialist at Australia-Casino put it: “ It was a crazy final game against the United States. Never before have we seen the Australian public so involved in a friendly soccer match. Of course, after the defeat in the Olympic bronze medal match and the 3-0 win just three days before, it was almost impossible for me to predict what was going to happen for the weekly betting tips I offer on Australia-Casino. However, I did hope for a comeback as there was nothing left to lose. And the girls proved that not giving up and always believing in your chance pays off!”
Looking Forward to Competing in 2022
The first competition for the 2022 season is the Women’s Asian Cup where the Matildas already played the opening game of Group B. It looked like they wanted to forget all the bad moments of 2021 as they trashed Indonesia in an 18-0 win. Captain Samantha Kerr scored no less than four of the goals, while Emily van Egmond also added four to the tally. After this ecstatic start, they’ll face the Philippines and Thailand with great momentum to qualify for the quarter quarter-final and even win the trophy.
February bring the 28th edition of the Algarve Cup where Australia will play compete against Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Italy, and Portugal. All these games are a perfect opportunity for the team to find its best form and perhaps advance in the FIFA rankings before the 2023 FIFA World Cup.
Already qualified as one of the two hosting nations, the Matildas need to get in their best possible shape to impress fans on their turf.