England manager Sarina Weigman is about to get an introduction into the nuances of the Australia-England sporting rivalry, according to the English media, as the Lionessess prepare to face the Matildas on Wednesday night.
The Dutch coach expressed an innocence about the rivalry – “I’ll talk to my players and staff and see what the rivalry is,” she said – but will be left in no uncertain terms about it by both her own press pack and the Australians.
“A subtle tonal and linguistic shift began to occur from the moment the final whistle blew at Stadium Australia, and the runes of Wednesday’s blockbuster World Cup semi-final began to take shape,” wrote Jonathan Liew in The Guardian.
” At that point Sarina Wiegman’s team stopped being the familiar faces in the draw, the mother country, the cultural brethren. They are the Poms. And if you’re unclear on the difference then clearly you haven’t watched much international sport between the two countries.
“England is the place you go on holiday. The Poms are the guys whose noses you want to crush into the dirt.”
In The Daily Mail, the obvious comparison was made.
“Today’s issue of The Australian lists some of the great moments between England and Australia — Bodyline, Jonny Bairstow’s stumping, the Gatting ball — which belong to the ‘sporting blood feud’ that has centred on cricket since 1877,” wrote Ian Herbert.
“Its headline encapsulates the national sentiment: ‘An old enemy. A new battle. And an adoring nation holds its breath.’”
The Sun turned the tables, saying Australia had to ‘enter the Lionesses’ den’.
:Australia will have virtually the entirety of the 80,000 fans inside the Sydney Olympic Stadium cheering on the tournament co-hosts,” they wrote.
“And there will be another 26million across the country baying for the Lionesses’ blood, with an electric atmosphere in Sydney in the raucous build-up to the biggest football match in the country’s history.
“Australia have well and truly captured the heart and the imagination of their adoring population.
“That was clear to see with the viral video taken from an aeroplane at the end of their quarter-final showdown with France – which showed everyone but one Lord of the Rings fan watching the finale on their screens.
“But while England may go into the game as underdogs – after all, Wiegman’s only loss as boss came against the Aussies – they will not be overawed despite the hostile reception awaiting them in Sydney.
“This is a team that has learned how to win tough – as demonstrated by coming from behind against Colombia and surviving with ten players against Nigeria in their last two matches to reach the final four.
“And their experiences in going all the way to Euros glory and World Cup heartache in previous tournaments could prove critical against the Matildas competing in their very first World Cup semi-final.”