Pre-gaming is different for everyone. Mine tends to be thinking out tactically the team I would select if I was the one in charge. Disclaimer, this is me having fun and picking a team based on what I think would work in each game of the Olympics. This is in no way a prediction of what the line up will actually be, as I’m usually wrong.
It’s time for the Tokyo Olympics to start… finally. We’ve been waiting a lot longer than we thought we would be. Round one brings our friends New Zealand.
We will be sticking with the 3-4-3 that has been played for much of Gustavvson’s reign so far. The only real difference here compared to the norm is that the Matildas NEED to score goals. This means still having a solid defence, but making sure the other elements are there to spring forward to.
If there’s any chance of reaching the next stage, a clean sheet is important but goals with the three points are more so. It’s not guaranteed, but doesn’t take away the necessity for a good win.
Micah takes the job as the most in-form keeper in the squad. It’ll be an opportunity for the Matildas keeper to dip her toe into the world of starting a match in a major international tournament. Confidence is key in goalkeeping, Micah has it right now. So she is my choice.
Probably the most controversial bit in my mind is Luik slotting back into defence. But this is for a reason. It releases both Catley and Carpenter onto the flanks, where they are the most dangerous. Moving the CCs to their natural fullback positions, with the support of three centre backs, means they’ll be able to bomb forward and create opportunities for Kerr and co up top.
Back to the centre backs and it’s relatively simple once Luik is established back there too. Polkinghorne and Kennedy are no-brainers. Sure Kennedy has been enjoying club life in midfield, and Polkinghorne doesn’t seem to ever get a rest. But the other options are restrained by lack of experience or lack of pace.
With the CCs on either flank, that leaves two more spots in the middle. It feels a little like putting pineapple on pizza, but van Egmond gets the vital holding midfield role. With Luik in support behind, there’s a bit of cover on the defensive side of things for van Egmond compared with a 4-3-3.
There’s an argument for Kellond-Knight to start to gain some match fitness. Most of the time I would agree. However, remaining in a defensive formation, that creative flair van Egmond has in attack just knocks Kellond-Knight off for a spot.
The other position is almost a throw up between Yallop and Cooney-Cross. And I kept changing my mind. With a flip of the coin, it landed on the youngster. Yallop’s experience will come in handy further down the track. While a game against our neighbour NZ will give Cooney-Cross some sea legs on the Olympic stage. This is the Victory midfielder’s first major international tournament after all.
Kerr is the first name on any team sheet. The forward will be heavily marked and the physicality of Erceg in the air will match Kerr’s, however the creativity and deadliness in front of goal is why Kerr is Kerr.
Logarzo is a little bit of a gamble, but my idea would be to gage where she is at more than anything. If she can start the tournament in fine form, then she is vital to plans against Sweden and USA. A sour start and there’s other players capable of jumping in. What makes her vital is she creates the flexibility of moving comfortably deeper and centrally, and has a fight and physicality that matches up with the group opponents well.
Starting most of the friendlies at fullback, Raso starting up top against New Zealand just pips Foord. A bit of form has come into play, with Foord struggling to find her feet with the Matildas lately. Raso has looked fiery in the friendlies and could translate that into her more natural position as a forward. Hopefully that leads to goals.
Australia v New Zealand – Wednesday July 21, 9.30pm AEST available on 7HD, 7mate,7plus app.