Unless you've been living under a rock these past few weeks, you'll be well aware of the fact that Australia and New Zealand are currently playing host to this year's FIFA Women's World Cup™ matches, and that the global sporting event has taken hold of our two nations and rocketed our fever and passion for the world game to new heights.
In particular, national support for our home team – the Matildas – seems to be at an all-time high. Their quarter-final game on Saturday night breaking records to pull the biggest TV audience for a sporting event since Cathy Freeman's race win at the 2000 Olympics.
If you're one of the few that haven't been paying attention so far, we thought we'd do you a favour and wrap up all the highlights from this year's FIFA Women's World Cup™ competition so far, so you can keep up with the water cooler chats at work, or otherwise look to boost the image of your football literacy.
How are the Matilda's doing so far?
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As of Saturday night, the mighty Matildas are on their way through to the semi-finals to play off against England for a spot in the grand final. Their next game will be played in Sydney on Wednesday night, and is shaping up to be one of the country's biggest sporting events of the last few decades.
If you didn't watch the Matildas' quarter-final match against France on the weekend, let's just say that you missed one of the greatest matches in the competition so far. From a nil-all finish at full-time, to a sustained stalemate after half an hour of overtime, France and Australia went head-to-head in a penalty shoot out to decide who would be moving on. But not just any penalty shoot out – this was the longest penalty shoot out in FIFA Women's World Cup™ history, with a whopping 20 shots being taken!
With more than four million Australians on the edges of their seats, and after several near-misses at glory, Australia's Cortnee Vine stepped up to clinch victory for the Matildas. Goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold rightfully received player of the match.
The Matildas graduated in the top spot of their pool after a nail-biting game against Canada that was a make-or-break moment for both teams. Luckily, the Tillies pulled themselves up by their bootstraps to demolish with a 4-0 win.
Best goals and on-field moments
There have been some cracker goals scored so far in the tournament, so we thought we'd round up our top three – just so you can also appreciate the level of skill on display. First up is Ireland's captain Katie McCabe, who defied physics to score her country's first goal of the competition...direct from a corner!
Panama's Marta Cox also scored her country's first goal of the competition – a screamer of a free kick from the 30-yard line against France, curling the ball into the top-right corner.
PANAMA HAVE JUST SCORED THE BEST GOAL OF THE FIFA WOMEN’S WORLD CUP 2023™ 🤯🤯🤯
Marta Cox, take a bow!⁰⁰A truly phenomenal free-kick rocks Sydney Football Stadium and shocks France in the process.
— Optus Sport (@OptusSport) August 2, 2023
And of course, how could we not talk about this moment from the Brazilian women's team that showed off their one-touch finesse and field awareness.
Biggest upsets and who's tipped to win
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World number one team, the USA, were knocked out by Sweden in Melbourne, the Swedish team scraping into the quarter finals by the skin of their teeth – a nil-all draw forcing the teams into an extra half hour of overtime and an eventual neck-in-neck penalty shoot-out. Sweden's victory came in the form of a final penalty kick that appeared at first to be saved by USA's keeper. But after a quick intermission to check the tech, the whistle was blown after it was confirmed that the ball had crept millimeters into the goal's airspace.
Another fan favourite to win, Japan, were knocked out by Sweden as well last week, following a host of other top teams unceremoniously knocked out this tournament – like Germany, South Korea and Brazil.
As for who's tipped to win? It's anyone's guess at this point, but we'll be draped in our green-and-gold finery on Wednesday for when the Matildas face off against our English counterparts.