SBS will be showing the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup round of 16 classic match between Brazil and the Matildas at 3pm (AEST) on Sunday. Samantha Lewis explains why you shouldn't miss out on this historical match.
Following our Brazil v Australia 2015 classic game, WATCH the next of our FIFA World World Cup classic matches - Uruguay v Ghana 2010 - Thursday June 18 at 2:30pm (AEST) on SBS and streamed via The World Game website / app and SBS On Demand.
1. The Rivalry
Australia’s two-decade long rivalry with Brazil has become one of women’s football’s greatest storylines.
Coming into the 2015 Women’s World Cup in Canada, the Matildas had never won a match against the South American heavyweights.
It was as lopsided a rivalry as you can get: four major tournament clashes over the course of fifteen years ending in heartbreak for just one team.
But all that was about to change on a chilly, rainy afternoon in Moncton.
Brazil qualified for the round of 16 in Canada without having lost a game.
In fact, they hadn’t conceded a single goal against group-stage opponents South Korea, Spain, and Costa Rica.
Meanwhile, Australia had scraped through their own ‘group of death’, recording a win, a draw, and a loss against Nigeria, Sweden, and the USA respectively; conceding as many goals as they had scored.
But this rough road seemed to work in the Matildas’ psychological favour. They were battle-hardened.
They knew what was required to match it with the world’s best.
Even though some players were nursing injuries the day before, there was a quiet confidence to the underdog Aussies; a galvanised energy that comes with proving your doubters wrong.
And they did.
The game itself was finely-poised as both sides poked and probed, shuffled the pieces around the board and searched for a rare glimpse at goal. Then, with just 10 minutes to go, it happened.
Goalkeeper Luciana’s famous fumble and Kyah Simon’s finish is one of those football moments that you can point to and say, “here was where it all changed.”
Australia’s 1-0 win would be a turning point for both sides.
Although Brazil would have their revenge the following year, defeating Australia on penalties at the Rio Olympics, this 2015 Women’s World Cup win was the beginning of a new era for the Matildas.
The next five years saw them cement their spot as a top 10 team – overtaking Brazil in the process – and bringing balance to that once-lopsided rivalry.
This is the Matildas’ sliding-doors moment.
2. A tale of two goalkeepers
Goalkeeping is a thankless task. The things you do right aren’t remembered nearly as much as the things you do wrong.
Some of the most memorable goalkeeping performances in World Cup history are those that were decided by inches – a half-step to the left or the right, a split-second decision, a strong set of fingers.
Gordon Banks v Brazil in 1970. Gianluigi Buffon in 2006. Tim Howard v Belgium, 2014. Oliver Kahn in 2002.
While neither goalkeeper in Moncton had an especially busy game, the moments where they were called into action were pivotal.
For Lydia Williams, it was two key saves that kept the Matildas’ hopes alive.
In the 27th minute, Brazilian legend Formiga picked up the ball in midfield and drove towards the top of the box, unleashing an absolute rocket that was destined for the roof of the net.
But Williams sprang to life, producing the save of the match to tip the ball over the crossbar.
She was called into action once again just after the hour-mark when Marta found a rare metre of space in behind full-back Caitlin Foord and fizzed her shot low and hard at the front post.
Williams, diving down to her right, pawed the ball out for a corner.
Twenty minutes later, this game of inches would finally be decided.
Matildas captain Lisa De Vanna, who’d looked threatening all game, nipped in behind her defender to latch onto a Katrina Gorry through-ball.
Her shot was fairly tame, though, and looked destined for the arms of Brazil’s glovewoman.
However, in a moment of slow-motion horror that all goalkeepers still have nightmares about, Luciana miscontrolled her parry – the ball hitting her glove at an odd angle and spinning off to the right.
It fell, as though the universe had plucked and placed it down, directly onto the foot of substitute Simon.
As the full-time whistle rang out, the reactions of both goalkeepers illustrated just how crucial those split-second moments can be in football.
While Williams sprinted to join her screaming teammates, Luciana burst into tears and buried her face in her gloves – the two faces of this exhilarating, tragic sport.
3. 'The Big Three'
The rise of Brazil on the world stage, especially between 2004 and 2011, was due in no small part to the rise of three specific players within it: Cristiane, Formiga, and Marta.
Together, this triumvirate anchored the Brazil side that won silver in back-to-back Olympic Games and reached the 2007 Women’s World Cup final.
They ranked as high as second in the world in 2009 – when the “big three” were at their peak.
Centre-forward Cristiane made a name for herself as the top-scorer at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, and was also voted the third-best player at the 2007 World Cup.
Miraildes Maciel Mota (commonly known as Formiga which means “ant” in Portugese – a reflection of her playing style) broke the record for most World Cups ever played, taking to the field in Canada for her sixth consecutive tournament.
And Marta – well, what more is there to say? It’s Marta.
The Big Three, then, had played in plenty of games bigger than this. History, as we’ve seen, was in their favour.
But the Matildas weren’t naive, and despite the reputations of The Big Three, the plucky Aussies weren’t fazed.
At the pre-match press conference, Elise Kellond-Knight was asked about defending the best player in the world.
“We’re Australian; we love a challenge,” she said.
“We’ve faced many big names so far in this tournament and this is just another one to tick off the list, really. We know what she’s capable of: she’s extremely talented, very dangerous. But with that, we know her strengths and her weaknesses. She’s a well-known player so hopefully we can use that to our advantage.”
Her response foreshadowed what would be one of Kellond-Knight’s best ever World Cup performances – she was voted Player of the Match afterwards – working with her teammates to keep Marta largely quiet across the 90 minutes.
It was Formiga, though – at 37 years old – who was Brazil’s greatest threat that day. True to her nickname, she was Brazil’s midfield machine: controlling the tempo, connecting defence with attack, unleashing shots, delivering inch-perfect slicing passes.
And even though Marta and Cristiane didn’t have as much of an impact as they had in the past, the chemistry between The Big Three remains something to behold.
4. Future stars emerge
Sam Kerr, Caitlin Foord, Steph Catley, Alanna Kennedy, and Emily van Egmond were all under the age of 23 when they took to the field in Canada.
Some had been to World Cups and Olympic Games before but weren’t yet fully woven into the fabric of the team.
All five of these young Matildas started against Brazil in Moncton, just as all five would start against Brazil four years later in what would become known as the “Miracle of Montpellier” - a comeback the likes of which Australian football has rarely seen.
We got a glimpse into the future during this 2015 knockout game.
Kerr, now a superstar of the sport and captain of the Matildas, was mostly played on the wing in Canada.
Even though she hadn’t found her attacking groove yet, we see her speed and aerial abilities beginning to shine.
Foord, now one of the Matildas’ most dangerous forwards, was deployed at right-back to help shepherd Marta.
While she didn’t have many opportunities to go forward, she showed flashes of the dazzling footwork and clever feinting she’s become known for.
Catley, currently one of the world’s best full-backs, hadn’t yet fully embraced those forward runs and crosses that are now her trademark.
Kennedy, Australia’s first-choice centre-back, was still developing her long passing game.
Van Egmond was still growing into her role as a puppet-master in the number 10 role.
This was the tournament where those players cemented themselves as the next generation of Matildas.
While their football was still developing, these young players showed the same fight and spirit that have seen them become Australia’s most-loved sporting team; ripping up the “underdog” label to instead become a genuine contender on the world stage.
5. Australian football history is made
While the setting wasn’t particularly memorable – a modest stadium on a grey day in the south-east of Canada – what happened in Moncton almost exactly five years ago today will be forever etched into Australian footballing history.
It was, of course, the first time that an Australian football team had defeated Brazil in a competitive game – men or women.
In just over 15 years of match-ups, and for the fourth time of asking at a World Cup, the Matildas did what no Australian side before them had done.
This was also the first time an Australian player had scored – and an Australian team had won – a knockout match at this particular tournament.
Most notably, though, and as part of the history that we are all reckoning with lately, Kyah Simon’s goal against Brazil made her the first indigenous Australian to score at a World Cup.
In front of just 12,054 people – including a family who’d hired a van and drove 4,500km from Edmonton to Moncton in the space of five days to watch their daughter score the winner – Simon’s goal against Brazil made her one of the most important athletes in the history of Australian football.
The game is worth watching, if anything, for that.