The Matildas’ often-maligned defence will receive a stern and welcome test against Spain in Sunday night’s Cup of Nations clash at CommBank Stadium.
Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson has never apologised for his attacking philosophy – often at the expense of defending – since the start of his tenure two years ago.
Spain been of the teams to have exposed Australia’s defensive deficiencies in that time, having thrashed the an under-strength Matildas outfit 7-0 in Huelva in June last year.
Gustavsson said that heavy defeat “sits by itself”, and predicted a similarly difficult assignment on Sunday night in the Matildas’ ongoing preparations for this year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup.
“The one thing that Spain gives us now is an opportunity to test our defence against the best team in the world because that has to be done if you look at what side of the draw we’re on (at the World Cup),” Gustavsson said.
“We can face similar opposition that can break us down … so in that sense Spain gives us a fantastic opportunity to test our defending.
“If you defend individually against the top teams, they break you down. You need to do it collectively.
“The only way to get exposed is against the top opposition. We need to get exposed and feel that now so we can fix it before the World Cup.”
The Matildas kept a clean sheet in thrashing Czechia 4-0 on Thursday night, while the Spaniards also started their Cup of Nations campaign on a winning note, downing Jamaica 3-0.
“There’s much more availability (for Sunday) than the last game, which means there’s competition for spots,” Gustavsson said.
“It’s going to be a long discussion among coaches, not just about the starting line-up, but how we play the game after 90 minutes.”
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