SYDNEY. Australia is gripped by a ‘Matilda Mania’ and the country’s newspapers are relishing the prospect of ‘inflicting triple heartache over the Poms’ in the Women’s World Cup semi-final tomorrow.

Matildas players have downplayed the rivalry with England ahead of their World Cup semi-final clash with the Lionesses, but the country’s newspapers tell a different story.

‘Now for the Poms’ shouts the headline on The Daily Telegraph, which has temporarily changed its masthead to The Daily Tillygraph in a nod to Tony Gustavsson’s team. In his column, Robert Craddock urges the Matildas to complete a stunning hat-trick for Australian sport by getting one over the old enemy for the third time in just over a month.

“Anyone for a triple treat?,” he writes, seemingly forgetting that while Australia beat England in the Netball World Cup final both the men’s and women’s Ashes series were drawn.  There’s only one thing better than beating England in cricket – that’s beating them in soccer … er, sorry, football.” 

Craddock notes England ‘dwarfs’ Australia in terms of resources and that the Matildas reaching the Women’s World Cup final for the first time would be an incredible achievement. 

“England have a prosperous FA Women’s Premier League and six divisions below it which makes Australia’s A League positively chicken nugget sized by comparison to England’s big feast,” he adds.

“The English don’t just play soccer. They ARE soccer. Or at least a huge part of it. And yet, when they stand toe to toe against Australia there is a distinct feeling that, for all their heritage, there is a distinct feeling there will be no discernible gap between them.”

Over on The Australian, the tone is slightly more subdued as Will Swanton notes football has never before featured in the rich tapestry that is the rivalry between Australia and England.

The sporting feud between the two countries has normally dominated the cricket and rugby pitches, with netball courts thrown in for good measures.  Now the beautiful game can be added to the list. “Australia versus England,” he writes. 

“Football has never really been part of the rivalry because we were like the kid saying to a neighbour of a niche sport, ‘I don’t really play.’ 

We do now. It’s a familiar opponent in an unfamiliar sport.”  The Sydney Morning Herald, meanwhile, focuses more on the Matildas’ impact on Australian sports than on their clash with the Lionesses. 

The Herald Sun also picks up on the theme, with the country basking in Matilda Mania. Mailonline.

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