England’s Women’s World Cup semi-final against Australia is set to be the most watched sporting event Down Under since the Sydney Olympics 23 years ago.
Australia beat France on penalties in their quarter-final and interest levels will soar higher in the coming days, with the fact that the Matildas will face the “old enemy” adding spice to an already tasty occasion.
The Lionesses, who beat Colombia in the quarter-final, will be taking on an entire nation, with the game already a sellout. There are no resale tickets available on the Fifa website with demand far outstripping supply at the 75,000-capacity stadium that hosted the 2000 Olympics.
The Matildas’ quarter-final win over France has already attracted Australia’s highest television audience for a sporting event for a decade, with an estimated average during the game of 4.17 million, and it was the most streamed event in Australian sporting history, with 472,000 watching on 7Plus.
The peak audience watching the game live on Channel 7 was 7.2 million, making it the biggest television audience since Cathy Freeman’s 400-metre final at the Sydney Olympics. That event reportedly attracted 8.8 million viewers and this week’s semi-final could push that record close again.
What and when is it?
Kick-off is at 11am UK time on Wednesday August 16 (8pm Sydney local time).
The other semi-final, between Spain and Sweden, is on Tuesday at 9am UK time. There will be a new name on the World Cup trophy when the final is played on Sunday at 11am UK time.
View the full fixtures and results here.
Where is the match being played?
England’s semi-final against Australia will be at Stadium Australia in Sydney, which is also where the final will be on Sunday August 20.
How to watch
Broadcasting rights for the Women’s World Cup are being shared between BBC and ITV. It was ITV who broadcast England’s quarter-final win but the BBC have rights to broadcast both semi-finals .
What are England saying?
By Luke Edwards, in Sydney
Lauren Hemp has warned England’s historic rivals that the Lionesses are “unstoppable” at their best.
Hemp is well aware of the sporting tradition between the two nations and England’s players would love to be able to ruin the tournament for their hosts in Sydney.
Interestingly, in both the last-16 game against Nigeria in Brisbane and again in the quarter-final against Colombia, most of the Australians in the crowd appeared to be cheering for England’s opponents. That has spurred England’s players on and they will need to show all of their strength of character to deprive the home team of a place in the final.
“We are all feeling really confident, Australia – bring it on,” Hemp told ITV after the game. “It’s going to be a packed out stadium with so many Australian fans, but we know if we play at our best we are unstoppable, so hopefully we’ll be able to bring that.”
Those sentiments were echoed by captain Millie Bright, who insisted England would thrive playing in front of a partisan home crowd.
“The atmosphere was incredible but as players we want that, we want sold-out stadiums, we want it to be tense out there,” said Bright. “As a player you thrive off of that and for me that’s adrenaline.
“For me, no matter who the fans are, you’re actually quite proud of it as well. We want that in a World Cup, we want it to be people turning on the TV and saying, ‘God, look at the crowd, it’s incredible’.
“As a player you feel that and you use it to your advantage as well, it’s not a disadvantage that there might be a lot of Australia fans there.”
Lucy Bronze expects the partisan support to affect Australia, for better or for worse.
“There are positives and negatives for being that home nation and for being the team against them,” Bronze said.
“It can be a lot of pressure to put on teams. I remember playing Canada [who were hosts] in 2015 and there was a lot of pressure put on that team and it gave them a lot of fight.
“It was the same thing for us in the Euros last year. The 12th man as they say – it really helped us. It was a key part to us winning and I think that’s been a key part for Australia when they’re backs have been against the wall this tournament. It will be another feisty occasion and we are looking forward to it.”
Who is in England’s squad?
Goalkeepers: Mary Earps (Manchester United), Hannah Hampton (Aston Villa), Ellie Roebuck (Manchester City)
Defenders: Millie Bright (Chelsea), Lucy Bronze (Barcelona), Jess Carter (Chelsea), Niamh Charles (Chelsea), Alex Greenwood (Manchester City), Esme Morgan (Manchester City), Lotte Wubben-Moy (Arsenal)
Midfielders: Laura Coombs (Manchester City), Jordan Nobbs (Aston Villa), Georgia Stanway (Bayern Munich), Ella Toone (Manchester United), Keira Walsh (Barcelona), Katie Zelem (Manchester United)
Forwards: Rachel Daly (Aston Villa), Bethany England (Tottenham Hotspur), Lauren Hemp (Manchester City), Lauren James (Chelsea), Chloe Kelly (Manchester City), Katie Robinson (Brighton & Hove Albion), Alessia Russo (Manchester United)
What are Australians saying?
Australia have been enthusiastic co-hosts of the tournament, with ticket sales making this the most attended Women’s World Cup of all time. But the fact the Matildas have progressed so far in the competition, having needed to win their final group game against Canada to qualify for the knockout rounds, has captured the imagination of a sport-mad nation like never before.
Prominent Australian sportswriter Robert Craddock said of the Matilda’s dramatic penalty shoot-out win over France in the quarter-final: “Even before it was finished, it stood in all of its nerve-jangling glory, as one of the greatest Australian sporting events of all time.”
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has even promised to grant a national public holiday if the Matildas beat England and go on to lift the trophy in next Sunday’s final.
What are the odds?
Back England to win the World Cup with these Women’s World Cup betting offers and free bets.
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