Australia are not the ‘underdog’ in their Women’s World Cup semi-final clash with England, according to Lionesses manager Sarina Wiegman.
England enter Wednesday’s highly anticipated encounter with many people favorites to progress to a first Women’s World Cup final, but Wiegman does not believe her side have an advantage.
“I don’t think Australia are the underdog, they are playing at home and the stadium will be packed,” Wiegman told a news conference on Tuesday.
“There are two teams that are very strong and have grown in the tournament, it’s going to be very tight and competitive.
“We approach the game like any other game, we prepare the way we want to play and analyze our opponent very well so that we can hopefully expose some weaknesses.”
Sam Kerr is set to start on the bench after making a long-awaited appearance at the tournament – after recovering from a calf injury – as a substitute in Australia’s 2-0 win over Denmark.
Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson has hinted she will be used off the bench in a bid to maintain “consistency and chemistry” in the Australian squad.
Wiegman doesn’t think Australia’s chances at the World Cup depend on the Chelsea striker.
“Australia is not just Sam Kerr,” she said. “Yes, we have a plan.
“She can play and she can start on the bench, so that’s the situation.”
Wiegman has led the Netherlands and England in home tournaments and will use his experience to counter the Matildas’ home advantage.
“We trained a bit because we also played against Colombia and it felt like an away game, which really inspired us,” she said. “Tomorrow there will be a bigger crowd from Australia.
“In the end, it’s a game. We want to play good football and we want to win the game. This is mainly what we focus on.
The Dutch coach has a near-flawless record as England boss, with his only defeat coming in a 2-0 loss to Australia in a friendly in April.
Wiegman believes his England team can take positives from this game ahead of their final four games.
“It gives us additional information,” Wiegman said. “Of course there were other players on the pitch, a different game, a different situation – and it was a friendly game.
“It’s the highest stage in the world, it’s a semi-final. I think it’s exciting for everyone, but we got a lot of information playing them in April, but also, of course, we saw and analyzed them in all the games.
“I think we are very well prepared and hopefully it will be to our advantage.”
England overcame injuries, red cards and penalty shootouts en route to the semi-final, and face one final hurdle in a hostile Australian atmosphere if they are to reach Saturday’s final.
Wiegman believes his side are more than capable of coming through the draw in a bid to make history.
“They impressed me a lot,” she says. “We already knew that this team was really committed, really wanted to do well and really wanted to learn. But they are also very adaptive, and we showed that a few times.
“We had many, many moments where we had to adapt and change quickly in a new situation, in a new form or with other players on the pitch. But everyone was prepared and ready.
“We know what our plan A is and what our plan B is, and we know everything about players who can replace other players and are ready to play.
“It was great, we showed a lot of resilience and adaptability. We are ready for tomorrow.
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