Matildas v Italy guide

A look at the opening match of the Matildas' World Cup campaign: a group stage clash with world No.15s Italy.


AUSTRALIA v ITALY

Women's World Cup - Group C

Stade du Hainaut

Sunday June 9 - 1pm local, 9pm AEST

AUSTRALIA

Australia arrive in France on a two-match winless run but full of confidence they can shake up the tournament. With a world-class attack led by Sam Kerr and an astute tactician in coach Ante Milicic, there's certainly reason to believe. Injuries on the eve of this match haven't helped but the Matildas should find their groove.

Coach: Ante Milicic

Captain: Sam Kerr

Ranking: 6

Best World Cup finish: Quarter-finals (2007, 2011, 2015)

Key player: Emily van Egmond. With Elise Kellond-Knight unlikely to play after calf trouble, much expectation rests upon the Newcastle Jets midfielder to control the tempo and play.

ITALY

A superb qualification run has Italy back in the big time after a 20-year absence. That absence means they are untested at international level but their recent results take them to France on a high; Italy won seven straight qualification matches and have an unbeaten streak dating back a year.

Coach: Milena Bertolini

Captain: Sara Gama

World ranking: 15

Best World Cup finish: Quarter-finalists (1991)

Key player: Barbara Bonansea. The 28-year-old winger and Juventus star will take some stopping and it's on the flanks that Australia has looked most vulnerable. Central to Italy's hopes.

VENUE

Valenciennes is the smallest of France's nine host cities, with the 25,000-capacity Stade du Hainaut nestled within walking distance of the city centre. There are question marks over the pitch, with officials asking teams not to train there the day before the match.

HEAD TO HEAD

Overall: 8 matches - Australia 3 wins, Italy 3 win, 2 draws

Last meeting: Australia 5-2 Italy, 2014 Cyprus Cup - their only meeting in the past decade


AAP