The Cup of Nations is a four-team friendly tournament that started in 2019 as various national associations tried to create more activity in FIFA’s non-competition international windows throughout the year.

The Matildas won the inaugural tournament after sweeping past New Zealand, Argentina, and South Korea, but the whole thing screeched to a stand-still due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is the first Cup of Nations since the world pressed the ‘pause’ button, so technically the Matildas are reigning champions and are back to retain their crown.

But this tournament is also important for another reason.

As I wrote in my preview this morning, this three-game series is being used as one of the final “dress rehearsals” ahead of the 2023 Women’s World Cup group stage.

Their three opponents this time around – Czechia, Spain, and Jamaica – were all chosen deliberately to replicate the three different playing styles Australia expect to face in July against the Republic of Ireland, Canada, and Nigeria, while playing three tough games in a short space of time will mean the coaches also need to learn to rotate players and solve problems if/when fatigue, niggles, or major injuries arise.

Tonight’s game against Czechia will be a great first test. They’re known for being a defensively very solid and structurally organised team, quite similar to Canada. While they may not have the superstar names, they are a solid team with several experienced players, including some who are currently signed for top clubs in England and Italy.

The Matildas have often struggled against defensively-minded teams – just look at what happened when they played Canada last year!

What would you like to see from tonight’s game, team? Who do you reckon will be key?

#Live #Matildas #face #Czechia #Cup #Nations #match

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