It’s crunch time. The final game of the group stages and it’s essential for the Matildas to get a win. Meeting Jamaica has an element of the unknown to it. Still it’s a tantalising fixture as any in this World Cup. Don’t let the previous results against Jamaica in this tournament fool you, they’re no push over. So here’s a few things to know about the Reggae girls.
JAMAICA THREE THINGS
There is unlikely to be any tense midfield battle here. Rather Jamaica will be happy to quickly transition to attack when they win the ball out of defence. In turn exposing themselves with a yards and yards of space between the lines if they lose the ball. Shaw will likely be the outlet up front, who will be pressing the defenders on the ball, plus running forward and finding space with the ball.
OPPOSITION CENTRE FORWARDS
Unfortunately Jamaica have a poor record this tournament of dealing with centre forwards. Both Brazil’s and Italy’s in Christiane and Girelli have scored hat tricks. So can Jamaica’s defence be exposed right through the guts? The evidence suggests so.
I know, mentioning a goalkeeper for a side who have conceded 8 goals during the tournament, the second highest of any teams, seems redundant. But trust me, it’s not. Schneider is a quality keeper, who has pulled out some stunning saves. It’s going to take something special to get past her if she’s on her game.
HOW THE MATILDAS SHAPE UP
On a personal level, seeing this Jamiaca side go the full tournament without scoring would be devastating. For the Matildas? Keeping a clean sheet would be a timely boost for a defence that definitely needs it.
The million dollar question is where to play Kellond-Knight if everyone is fit. It pains me to say it more than leaving that MarsBar at the supermarket checkout does, but. There’s a very good argument to keep KK at left back. She shored up the defence. Steph Catley looked stronger in centre back than Polkinghorne did too (like I said, painful truths yeah, let’s just rip off this bandaid). Add on Emily Van Egmond finally had a good game at defensive midfield. EVE can be replicate this form against Jamaica as the pressure in midfield won’t be intense and there will be space to expose in the middle of the field when play gets dragged out.
Or do we change things up, rest some legs and go in with a fresher side? Usually I would say this is the way to go. But this is a knock out game for us. We sure as hell need to treat it as one and only ring in any changes if we have a comfortable 3 or 4 goal lead in the 60th minute. It’s do or death. Why wouldn’t you put out your strongest side? Jamaica will be and they’re a wild card as they’ve literally got nothing to lose by putting their foot on the gas to steal a result.
This is a big game for Sam Kerr potentially. The research should be done, she’s coming up against a side who struggle with keeping centre forwards out of the match. The previous two games where she was marked out of the match. Here is an opportunity for her to find the ball at her feet and be the nightmare we know her to be. Am I suggesting hattrick territory? Probably not. But it would be fantastic to see how the Matildas play a bit more direct, through the guts of the park and feeding the ball to Kerr on the ground, not aiming for her head.
P.S. Logarzo is key again to the Matildas ticking. Long may she remain fit and in the midfield.