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Preview: Australia Women vs. USA Women - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Australia Women vs. USA Women - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Thursday's Olympic Games Women's Football clash between Australia Women and USA Women, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

Reigning world champions USA Women will face Australia Women on Thursday in the bronze-medal match at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Both sides fell to 1-0 defeats in the semi-finals and have left themselves with one last chance to secure a medal this summer, which would be Australia's first medal at an Olympics while USA have bettered their performance from Rio 2016.

Match preview

Australia's previous best at an Olympics came in 2004 and 2016 when they were quarter-finalists, but in Japan the nation have surpassed that stage which is a positive platform to build upon heading into their home World Cup tournament in 2023.

Tony Gustafsson's side recorded mixed results in the group stages, starting the competition well with a 2-1 win over rivals New Zealand, but they could not follow that up with another victory in Group G.

After a defeat to Sweden and a point against USA, Australia scraped through to the knockout stages as one of the two best third-placed teams, and that set up a quarter-final against Great Britain.

Against Team GB, Australia had to rely on an 89th-minute strike from Samantha Kerr to keep the Aussies' Olympic dream alive and send the game into extra time, and then Gustafsson's side secured their place in the semi-final with a 4-3 win.

However, Australia fell short against Sweden in the semi-final after Fridolina Rolfo's strike was enough to send Sweden into the final and leave Australia fighting for bronze in Japan.

USA's Tokyo Olympics did not get off to a good start, suffering a 3-0 defeat against Sweden in the opening round of fixtures, but the four-time gold medallists bounced back in their next game with a 6-1 win over New Zealand.

A draw against Australia in the final group game was enough to secure second place in Group G for USA and Vlatko Andonovski's side would then go on to face the Netherlands in the quarter-final.

Goals from Sam Mewis and Lynn Williams gave USA a 2-1 lead at half time, but Vivianne Miedema completed her brace in the second half to send the game to extra time and eventually penalties.

Rose Lavelle, Alex Morgan, Christen Press and Megan Rapinoe all converted from the spot after being substituted onto the field during the second half, and Andonovski's inspired decisions paid off as they won the penalty shootout 4-2.

The semi-final against Canada started with disappointment for goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher, who had to be replaced by Adrianna Franch just 30 minutes into the game.

Canada's Jessie Fleming settled the game 16 minutes from time by converting a penalty kick, despite USA dominating the majority of the game in terms of shots on goal.

After three consecutive gold medals between 2004 and 2012, USA have now gone two Olympic Games without featuring in the final and even if they win bronze on Thursday, the Tokyo Games may well feel like defeat to a side which has so much experience of winning major international tournaments.

Australia Women Olympic Games Women's Football form:
  • W
  • L
  • D
  • W
  • L

Australia Women form (all competitions):
  • D
  • W
  • L
  • D
  • W
  • L

USA Women Olympic Games Women's Football form:
  • L
  • W
  • D
  • D
  • L

USA Women form (all competitions):
  • W
  • L
  • W
  • D
  • D
  • L

Team News

Australia centre-back Ellie Carpenter received a straight red card in the final moments of the semi-final against Sweden and will now be unavailable for the bronze-medal match on Thursday. Aivi Luik is likely to come into the starting 11 in Carpenter's absence.

Gustafsson has played a 3-4-3 formation throughout this summer's Olympics, and Chelsea striker Kerr has been a key figure at the top of the pitch for Australia, chipping in with five goals in Japan.

Goalkeeper Teagan Micah has conceded nine goals up to this point in the competition, but she will be hoping to replicate her performance when Australia faced USA in the group stages when she kept a clean sheet.

USA shot stopper Naeher is expected to be sidelined on Thursday following the injury she picked up against Canada, and Franch will start between the posts for Andonovski's side.

The USA starting lineup has altered throughout the tournament but the defensive back four of Crystal Dunn, Tierna Davidson, Becky Sauerbrunn and Kelley O'Hara has been the most consistently picked unit in the team.

USA's only victory within 90 minutes came against New Zealand and with Thursday's clash being a must-win fixture, Andonovski is likely to opt for a similar starting 11 to the one that defeated New Zealand 6-1.

Australia Women possible starting lineup:
Micah; Catley, Kennedy, Luik; Yallop, Logarzo, Van Egmond, Raso; Foord, Kerr, Simon

USA Women possible starting lineup:
Franch; Dunn, Davidson, Sauerbrunn, O'Hara; Horan, Ertz, Lavelle; Rapinoe, Lloyd, Heath

We say: Australia Women 1-2 USA Women

Australia will perhaps be the more satisfied of the two sides with their performance at this summer's Olympics, considering the pressure USA are under to win gold given their recent success as world champions.

However, USA will be determined to not leave Japan without a medal and they have shown this Olympics that they can bounce back from disappointment, just like they did after their opening defeat to Sweden, and their experience of games in the latter stages of major tournaments should help them to victory on Thursday.

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