ABBA, Euros and the Matildas

I’m buzzing. Simple as. I could shut down most of those feelings while I was working but hitting the third hour after knock-off time and the realisation is sinking in.

Football is f****** home.

Chloe Kelly sends football home. Picture: Twitter @Lionesses

All there is to do is listen to ABBA’s Does Your Mother Know between random outbursts of Sweet Caroline while wishing I could’ve been in that crowd at Wembley.

There’s many things to take from the game. The gritty nature of it. The brilliant displays from both defensive midfielders. A magnificent goal apiece coming undone by the scrappiest of winners. The fans… oh the fans that feed my soul with wonder and imagination of what will happen in 11 months in Australia/New Zealand.

And England’s first trophy in my lifetime. Finally I have memories and stories to compete with my dad’s of 1966.

Where do the Matildas fit?

One common thread arose from most of the Euros games from the last month, attack, attack, farken attack.

Countries from across the continent landed in England in the intent to attack, create and dazzle crowds. It captured the imagination with the same swell the Lionesses did as they pounced on the trophy.

Look at where the strengths of the Matildas are and we should be throwing down the gauntlet to produce eye-catching, attacking displays. Sam Kerr, Mary Fowler, Hayley Raso and Caitlin Foord (when in form), alongside some other young guns coming through, the injured Holly McNamara comes to mind.

Throw in Steph Catley and Charlotte Grant in the absence of Ellie Carpenter and there is the bombing fullbacks adding to our width and ability to whip a ball into the mixer.

Take away goals, winning or losing and consider Austria’s heartbreak against Germany where Austria hounded the eventual runner-ups with waves of attack. That’s the type of way I want the Matildas to play.

Win or lose be damned. Inspire a nation by creating special moments from players who dare to dream to create highlight reels to spark the imagination of the next generation.

It’s the gall to take on a defender, the nerve to run the ball to the line before sending in a cross and the awareness to be in and around the mixer as play builds around them.

The crux of it comes from direct play.

‘Take a chance’ – probably ABBA in half of their songs

Picture: Football Australia

There’s lots being said about our Matildas. The trust in our coach, while seemingly fickle for having dragged us to a major tournament’s semi-final only last year, is low. It’s difficult to provide any further, fair analysis until the Matildas are at full strength and not playing in draining Indian conditions at the Asian Cup.

Some things I do know, the World Cup is creeping up on us.

We have players capable of mixing it with the best in the world. Players who are finally being treated as professional athletes over in Europe, where – from what’s been on display over the Euros – the standard is high. Perhaps the highest in the world.

The biggest chance to take is the Matildas don’t need to win the World Cup.

I don’t want to go into whether it’s realistic, what might be realistic and what’s a pipedream. What I do want to get into is the moment that captures a nation. 

It’s when the chips are down, you watch a team willing to put everything on the line to win, even when all the options are exhausted and it leaves heartache as we’ve experienced previously against Norway, Brazil and South Korea.

We could go conservative. We could look at building two blocks of four or five players, sitting deep and sending long ball after long ball to an isolated Kerr.

Or… Dare to inspire, play direct and push bodies into the attacking half, all while being bold enough to blood some young players against the world’s best. This should be especially true in the lead up friendlies, such as against Spain.

I know the one I’m keen on. Give me the highs and lows rather than the dribble of the grey alternative.

After all, what would we prefer? Playing to attack and inspire, or playing not to lose.

I know what I would rather.

Time to back in our golden generation of attacking players.

Time to take a chance.

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