Hot on the heels of a blockbuster Ashes series, England fans are in for another high stakes sporting clash with Australia as the Lionesses take on the Matildas in the Women’s World Cup semi-final.
The old rivalry has already been ignited in the build up to the match at Sydney’s Stadium Australia, with tickets allocated to England being snapped up by Aussie fans and a helicopter funded by the Australian Daily Telegraph spying on an England training session.
The newspaper’s stunt culminated in a piece with the title “11 Poms against a nation: Welcome to the Jungle, Lionesses”.
According to the article, manager Sarina Wiegman and co were in for a “rude shock” if they thought they could quietly prepare for the game.
England booked their place in the semi-finals alongside the host nation over the weekend following a 2-1 win against Colombia.
Australia, meanwhile, saw off France in a penalty shootout after the match remained goalless after extra time.
The Lionesses will be without Lauren James who is completing her two-match ban for stamping on Michelle Alozie during the round of 16 match against Nigeria.
But captain Millie Bright says her team will “thrive” under the pressure of playing against the hosts.
“That is what we expect now – for us to thrive in those moments,” she said.
“It is a proud moment for the women’s game back home when they see what an atmosphere there is.
“It’s about turning up, showing up, performing and enjoying the game.
“It is important to adapt to the game whatever they give to us. We have faced many different challenges and we have adapted really well.”
Wiegman has also said she expects the match to be “very tight and very competitive”.
However, Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson has said that while England may be favourites on paper, they don’t have the “support” his players do.
He said: “If you look at all that and you look at resources, financially, obviously they are massive favourites going into this game.
“But the one thing that we have that they don’t have is the support and belief from the fans.”
Rishi Sunak has sent a good luck message to the team ahead of the tie – telling The Sun newspaper the “nation’s hopes of beating the Aussies now rest on our Lionesses”.
His comments follow the Ashes series which ended in a 2-2 draw after five matches replete with epic performances, controversial dismissals and numerous rain delays.
As well as the words exchanged between supporters of both sides, the FA said it was “disappointed” to hear reports of tickets specifically allocated to England fans being bought by Australians.
The additional 1,970 tickets were released at the weekend, and about 8,000 England fans were expected to be in attendance at the Australia Stadium.
The FA said it was working with FIFA to review its ticketing processes going forwards.
A unique supporter code was reportedly leaked on social media – with a number of Australian fans claiming to have purchased tickets.
Back in England, fans have put out flags and bunting ahead of the fixture and pubs and fan parks have prepared to welcome supporters for the 11am UK kick-off time.
According to Sky Bet at the time of writing, England were 5/4 to win in normal time, compared to 5/2 for Australia.