Great Britain vs Australia Olympics football preview, team news, kick off time

Team GB topped Group E in the Tokyo 2020 group stages, remaining unbeaten; Great Britain reached the quarter-finals at London 2012; Great Britain face Australia at the Kashima Stadium; kick-off 10am BST; Winner will face either Sweden or Japan on Monday

Caroline Weir (right) scored the Great Britain equaliser against Canada to secure top spot in Group E
Image: Caroline Weir (right) scored Great Britain's equaliser against Canada to secure top spot in Group E

Great Britain will be hoping to go one better than London 2012 and reach the semi-finals of the Olympic women's football tournament as they take on Australia on Friday.

Team GB are unbeaten at Tokyo 2020, winning their opening two matches before drawing their final game 1-1 with Canada. It saw them top Group E and set up a quarter-final showdown with the Matildas.

It matches their only other Olympic appearance in 2012, where Great Britain were knocked out of their home Olympics by Canada in the last eight.

Australia have only competed at three Olympics themselves, but have never been past the quarter-final stage, reaching it at Athens 2004 and Rio 2016.

It seems like the last eight has been a sticking point for the Matildas in other tournaments too. They have never gone past the stage at the World Cup, reaching the quarter-finals three times and being knocked out in the round of 16 in 2019.

However, they have been far more successful in regional tournaments and have finished as runners-up in the last two AFC Women's Asian Cups, losing 1-0 to Japan in both finals.

At Tokyo 2020, they opened with a 2-1 win against New Zealand, before defeat to Sweden in their second game. But they registered a respectable goalless draw against the USA, seeing them finish third in Group G.

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The winner of the quarter-final at Kashima Stadium (kick-off 10am BST) will face either Sweden or Japan in the semi-finals on Monday in Yokohama.

Riise eyeing Australia formation

Hege Riise is enjoying her time as Team GB coach ahead of the quarter-final
Image: Hege Riise is enjoying her time as Team GB coach ahead of the quarter-final

It is all or nothing for Great Britain with just two games to play to reach the final, and coach Hege Riise hopes her side can impose their game on Australia on Friday.

She said: "Now we are in the knockout stages, having rested players helps us going into the last part of the tournament. We want to perform, we want to look at the relationship and decide who we feel will match up best against Australia. We're looking at ourselves and how we can win that game.

"With their formation, they haven't changed that as much. I guess they will be in a 3-4-3, with three attacking players that always run the line, always looking to be in the box for crosses. We will match that and challenge them, hopefully, to play in between in our style where we've been successful.

Great Britain team news

Hege Riise confirmed all of her players were fit and available. Fran Kirby has been cleared to play more minutes after returning from injury against Canada, but Riise and her team are yet to decide if she should start.

"We will not change much of who we are so we will continue to work on our relationship and the quality that we have in the team because we feel like we're good. We have great depth in our squad so we can change the game if needed and we'll go out strong tomorrow.

"I wasn't aware of that [the rivalry between Great Britain and Australia], but I can see that intensity and the passion two big nations want to win that battle. We can handle that, I feel like we are in a good spot right now, the players feel comfortable and we feel like we are doing the right thing. I'm excited for the game tomorrow and it will be us proving that we are enjoying this tournament and this moment."

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It has been a whirlwind 2021 for Riise. She was named as interim manager for England Women in January, before also agreeing to coach the Team GB squad, but it is an experience she has enjoyed.

"It's been a privilege," she added. "When I got this role, working with the staff around me to get the best out of the girls, we have been working on the culture - who are we and how do we want to be seen and perform?

"They know what it will take to go all the way so they all bought into that and I feel like we've done a great job. Now it's how brave we are going into the knockout stage. I think we are brave enough going forward as well."

Little, Daly on co-captaincy and GB-Australia rivalry

Kim Little has been named as Team GB co-captain
Image: Kim Little has been named as Team GB co-captain

Kim Little is one of four players to have also featured at London 2012, and while the teams are hard to compare, she did pick out one difference from nine years ago.

She said: "It's a similar situation in that we topped the group, we were performing well and got the results. The main difference from 2012 is that we played with the same team throughout the group stage, whereas for this tournament, we've got such a depth of talent that we've been able to mix things up, keep players fresh. I hope that will put us in good stead for tomorrow.

"It's always good to know what you're coming up against, to know their strengths and to minimise them as much as possible, but it's also good to have that freeness in your mind. It's another game of football, anything can happen and that's how I personally look at it."

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Little has also been named as one of three co-captains for Tokyo 2020, along with Steph Houghton and Sophie Ingle, but praised the leadership through the Team GB squad.

"It [the co-captaincy] is not something I think about too much," she added. "Obviously it's such a privilege to lead these girls out alongside Steph and Sophie. We're all enjoying it, working with each other and bringing our strengths to help the team. The three of us are named the captains, but I really do feel every single player here is stepping up in their own way."

Great Britain will face Australia in their quarter-final on Friday morning
Image: Great Britain will face Australia in their quarter-final on Friday morning

One interesting theme of Friday's quarter-final is the long sporting rivalry between the countries of Great Britain and Australia, especially in cricket with England and The Ashes, as well as rugby.

Speaking of the sporting history between the two sides, Rachel Daly said: "I think rivalry is a good, healthy competition and all things considered, it's us against them in 90 minutes of football - hopefully - and we get the job done. You've got to take all the context into it, we're quite passionate teams for our countries so it's definitely got something about it.

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"They've got a very good squad and they're here for a reason. We know a lot of them from playing in the English league and the qualities they bring. It's a massive game, it's a big test for us, something different that we haven't faced yet in the group. You've got to really respect them.

"But we've prepared for this all along. We've had three games under out belt, four if you include New Zealand, and we are still trying to learn about each other. We've come such a long way in such a short space of time, but the excitement will build now. It's every man for themselves in terms of the competition… we're just ready and raring to go."

Australia ones to watch

Sweden and Australia met in Group G
Image: Sam Kerr has scored three goals at the Olympics so far and is Australia captain

There is a very well-known name who wears the armband for Australia - striker Sam Kerr. She is a familiar face for Barclays FA Women's Super League fans, and had a stellar 2020/21 season with Chelsea.

She helped the side to a second successive WSL title, as well as a Champions League final. Kerr also won the WSL's Golden Boot (21 goals), and registered seven assists. Friday's game will see her line up against attacking team-mate Fran Kirby, who ended joint-top for assists in the WSL last season (11).

Kerr is key for her country too. She has won 96 caps for Australia, and is second in the all-time scorer list. She needs just two more goals to match Lisa De Vanna (47) at the top, and three to surpass her tally. At the 2019 World Cup, she was the first Australian - man or woman - to score a hat-trick at the tournament as the Matildas beat Jamaica 4-1.

She has scored three of Australia's four Olympic goals so far in Tokyo, although did miss a penalty during a 4-2 defeat to Sweden.

Caitlin Foord is also one to watch for Australia (photo from Icon Sportswire via AP Images)
Image: Caitlin Foord is also one to watch for Australia (photo from Icon Sportswire via AP Images)

Arsenal's Caitlin Foord became the youngest ever Australian to play at a World Cup when she was selected for the 2011 tournament, and continues to be a key player for her country.

She has gone on to feature in both World Cups since, and was part of the Australia squad that was eliminated at the quarter-final stage by Brazil at Rio 2016. Foord has also spent the last two years at Arsenal, scoring ten goals last season - the fourth highest in the league - and registering five assists.

Little and Daly: Incorrect names 'disappointing'

Caroline Weir was one of the players who was incorrectly named against Canada
Image: Caroline Weir was one of the players who was incorrectly named against Canada

During Great Britain's 1-1 draw against Canada, some Olympic television commentary had been calling players by the incorrect names or using inaccurate facts.

"I think there was a Linda Bronze in there as well," said Daly. "And a Catherine Weir? It's frustrating - it's not difficult to get players' names right. It's disappointing, but it's more fuel to add to the fire. We'll keep focusing on us, staying grounded and it is what it is it the end of the day, there's nothing we can do about it."

Little elaborated: "It is disappointing and it has been a common theme in the women's game. As the game has become a professional sport, the things around need to improve too, such as broadcasting and media and the level of expertise when commentating on games.

"The women's game isn't as widely watched yet as the men's game so there's not as many commentators who know the game as well. But hopefully voicing it and the people who are making the mistakes are aware of it so they can continue to improve."

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