Veteran forward Lisa De Vanna says she was “angry” and “frustrated” after the Matildas’ 2-1 loss to Italy in their World Cup opener.
Australia’s campaign has been put on the back foot by the upset loss, with Ante Milicic’s side now realistically needing three points against Brazil in Montpellier to be in a good position to progress from the group stage.
De Vanna said winning the opening game would have given the team confidence going forward, but they would now have to deliver big-time going forward.
“I’m not happy at the moment, I’m frustrated, angry,” De Vanna told reporters post-match.
“It’s important to get three points but not just the three points, to give us confidence for the rest of the tournament.
“I guess now it’s a big hurdle for us and we have to rise. There’s no bigger team to do that against than Brazil.”
De Vanna is at her fourth World Cup in France, and has been through the experience of losing the opening game before — including in 2015 when Australia copped a loss to eventual champions the USA before making the quarter-finals.
She said the players would simply have to “dig deep” to deliver a result against Brazil.
“When I was doing my ice bath I was thinking about all the games I’ve played at a World Cup, and I think besides Ghana we’ve lost our first games,” she said.
“But you want to finish on top of your group, it’s an easier route to what we want to do. We just have to dig deep and figure out how we can execute our game plan against Brazil.”
Italy steal it in the 95th
The Matildas struggled to find their groove up front at times against Italy, creating chances without producing clear-cut scoring opportunities.
De Vanna said she felt the team was rushing its decision-making and struggling to gel at times.
“I just think we couldn’t keep the ball at times,” she said.
“We rushed our decision at times, and for the strike force we have we’re not quite gelling just yet.
“Once we can get that on the mark we’ll be quite dangerous up front.
“Right now we just can’t seem to find the click.”
Post-match, there was plenty of scrutiny on Ante Milicic’s side, and the FFA’s decision to replace former coach Alen Stajcic five months out from the World Cup.
De Vanna said she tended to avoid social media — and would continue to do so after the loss.
“I try not to go on social media because I’ve always been someone who doesn’t like people judging me when they don’t know me,” De Vanna said.
“So I’m very limited.
“But for the girls, are they going to read this stuff? Is it going to affect them? I don’t go on social media. Especially now, no way.”
Kerr opens Matildas’ account
De Vanna said she felt there hadn’t been a big change in Australia’s system since Milicic’s appointment — it was more a matter of the team finding its confidence and rolling on from there.
“I don’t there’s too much of a change in our system. I think we’re just unsure of it,” she said.
“Going into it and sort of guessing, ‘should I go or shouldn’t I go?’ Once we can find that ‘just go and back yourself’ because we’re a very confident team.
“We’ve got big individuals who can win games, it’s just getting them to feel like they can do it without being unsure.”
Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says he has little sympathy for Manchester City over their ban from European competition, especially as he regularly lost some of his best players to their wealthy Premier League rivals.
“The rules are what they are and people who don’t respect them… have to be punished,” said Wenger at the Laureus World Sports Awards in Berlin.
“If it is proven that this has been done on purpose, you cannot let that go unpunished.”
On Friday, UEFA announced City had been banned from continental competition for two seasons for what the body said were “serious” financial fair-play breaches between 2012 and 2016.
City were also fined 30 million euros (A$48.5m) and are taking the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
But Manchester United great Gary Neville believes the Citizens will win their appeal against UEFA’s decision to ban the club from the Champions League and labelled the governing body “a hopeless organisation”.
“If owners sign up to contracts or allow contracts to be signed under their ownership, they should have money in place to fulfil those contracts and I think Man City’s owners have got that,” Neville told Sky Sports.
“I think City will beat UEFA. UEFA, I have no faith in them whatsoever. I think essentially they are a hopeless organisation who will just apply what would be erratic disciplinary sanctions for different things and I think City will beat them in the courts.”
“The idea that City are not able to invest the money of the ownership I disagree with, I’ve always felt FFP is the wrong way to apply the financial rules. I think City will beat UEFA, they’re a hopeless organisation.”
It wouldn’t have locked the door to the Champions League, but a Chelsea victory over Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday morning certainly would have pulled it to.
Instead Manchester United won 2-0 and, as a result, the door has now been completely blown off its hinges.
Eight teams are now separated by just seven points, with even Arsenal and Burnley in 10th and 11th respectively still in with a – albeit slim – chance of sitting at Europe’s top table.
The European fate of Manchester City, who will almost certainly finish in the top four, is still unresolved, but if their ban is upheld then it is eight teams battling for the two spots alongside Liverpool and Leicester in next season’s Champions League.
Following the controversial victory for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team at Stamford Bridge, we look at the runners and rider and rate their chances of making the Champions League next season.
N.B. For argument’s sake, we are assuming UEFA’s current ruling regarding Manchester City’s two-year European ban WILL be upheld and therefore there are two spots up for grabs.
Next five fixtures: Tottenham (H), Bournemouth (A), Everton (H), Aston Villa (A), Manchester City (H)
Chelsea are still in the driving seat for Champions League foot next season, despite their defeat to Manchester United this morning. The Blues hold a one-point advantage over fifth-placed Spurs but it is the current run of form they find themselves in which will be the biggest cause for concern.
Frank Lampard has seen his side now go four games without a win and have only managed four wins since the start of December which will be a huge cause for concern. They have some tricky fixtures coming up and should results go against them on the weekend they could find themselves all the way down in 7th place.
Chance of Champions League football: 7/10, but decreasing with every passing game.
Current position: 5th
Next five fixtures: Chelsea (A), Wolves (H), Burnley (A), Manchester United (H), West Ham (A)
Only Liverpool, obviously, and Everton are in better form that Jose Mourinho’s side at the moment and that has been shown with their rapid rise to within one point of the top four ahead of a huge clash with Chelsea on the weekend. Their recent form just goes to show that reaching the Champions League could be all about momentum and peaking at the right time, rather than being the best team this season.
Again, it’s not been smooth sailing however. Spurs were very fortunate to get past Aston Villa last time out and have been leaking goals, which is uncharacteristic for a Mourinho team. But since he arrived at the club, only Liverpool have won more points in the league and if they continue that form then they will succeed.
Chance of Champions League football: 8/10, but the next five games will decide it one way or another.
Current position: 6th
Next five fixtures: Brighton (H), Norwich (H), Newcastle (A), Manchester United (A), Tottenham (H)
Who’d have thought Sheffield United would be included in this conversation at the start of this season, let alone so prominently?! Chris Wilder has got his side playing some really good football and the signing of Sander Berge has shown that he is now ready for them to kick on to the next level.
And looking at United’s next few fixtures, there is a good chance they will be in the top four by the time they head to Old Trafford. The Blades will be eyeing at least three wins from their next five games and if they manage to stay undefeated against Man United and Spurs as well then they can start dreaming of Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday night trips on the continent.
Chance of Champions League football: 5/10, but they’ve exceeding all other predictions made for them this season so who really knows?!
Current position: 7th
Next five fixtures: Watford (H), Everton (A), Manchester City (H), Tottenham (A), Sheffield United (H)
Manchester United have been wildly inconsistent all season and failed to take advantage of the momentum they have worked so hard against the big teams to make. Solskjaer has only lost twice against a teams currently in the top half of the table but have so often come unstuck against the so-called smaller sides.
Consistency will be key for United in this run-in but it doesn’t look like they will achieve it, leaving them outsiders in the chase for a Champions League place. They have the potential to stumble against Watford and away to Everton before playing three other contenders on the bounce. It’s a tough run and it may turn out to be too tough.
Chance of Champions League football: 6/10, and expect plenty more unexpected results – both in the form of wins and losses.
Current position: 8th
Next five fixtures: Norwich (H), Tottenham (A), Brighton (H), West Ham (A), Bournemouth (H)
Wolves are probably the exact opposite to Manchester United in terms of consistency and getting what you expect from them. They win the games you think they will, draw the ones they’re predicted to and narrowly lose the ones you think they will put up a fight in. What United would do for that sort of predictability…
Wolves are currently five points adrift of Chelsea in fourth – and four of Spurs, if we’re assuming City remain banned – but looking at their next five fixtures there is no reason they cannot win at least four of them. Do that and we could be looking at the next step in Wolves’ progression in English football.
Chance of Champions League football: 7/10, but only if they keep up their predictability is an increasingly unpredictable season.
Current position: 9th
Next five fixtures: Arsenal (A), Manchester United (H), Chelsea (A), Liverpool (H), Norwich (A)
Not many Evertonians would have thought Champions League would be a possibility this season when they were languishing in the relegation zone under Marco Silva little more than three months ago, but here they are.
Carlo Ancelotti has the Toffees on a decent run on form since the turn of the year but their next five fixtures will be make or break and they will be desperate not to see Liverpool win the title at their own ground. That will bring a fresh air of determination but whether determination alone is enough is another matter.
Chance of Champions League football: 2/10, because right now Europe would be just a surprising bonus.
Current position: 10th
Next five fixtures: Everton (H), West Ham (H), Brighton (A), Southampton (A), Norwich (H)
Arsenal are a further two point back from Everton but because of their fixtures, they are certainly still not out of the race, especially after the 4-0 drubbing of Newcastle in the second half over the weekend.
If they beat Everton at home on the weekend the Gunners have a nice run of fixtures ahead of them against bottom-half teams. Winning them would very much haul Arsenal into real contention but given their patchy form this season, it’s far from a guarantee, especially when they are relying on seven and six points to be dropped by Chelsea and Spurs respectively without any of the other four teams between them picking up points either.
Chance of Champions League football: 3/10, and it looks like the Europa League is more of an achievable target.
Current position: 11th
Next five fixtures: Bournemouth (H), Newcastle (A), Tottenham (H), Manchester City (A), Watford (H)
Burnley are level on points with Arsenal so it would be unfair to include the Gunners in this discussion and leave out Sean Dyche’s side, but it would take some wild results to see the Clarets make the Champions League.
Burnley’s best chance is sneaking a Europa League place, which could go to seventh or eighth in the league at the end of the season, depending on cup winners and Manchester City’s appeal.
Chance of Champions League football: 1/10, it’s basically no chance.