The all-important lesson Milicic will take into France

Whoever lifts the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France will likely have to overcome the considerable powers of the United States.

The reigning champions and world No.1, the USA – who edged the Westfield Matildas 5-3 in an engrossing April friendly – have long been regarded as standard bearers for the women’s game.

That Colorado friendly gave head coach Ante Milicic some valuable insights into which areas his side needed to work on in order to make an impression when the tournament commences in June.

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“One thing that really stood out for me was physically, the capabilities of the US team,” Milicic said.

“The US have been together for a long time. They have a very experienced coach and players that can play a few different formations.

“I look at their depth: they can take off an Alex Morgan and bring on a Carli Lloyd who has 100 caps.

"But at the same time, I’m pleased with what we got out of that game. With the amount of games we have leading up into the tournament and also during the tournament. 

I’d really like to get another opportunity to play the US.”

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Apart from going down 3-1 to tournament hosts France in January, the US have not lost since the Westfield Matildas beat them 1-0 in the 2017 Tournament of Nations.

“A lot of teams can match them, but they just can’t seem to do it for 90 minutes,” Milicic said.

“That’s where I believe the US get on top of teams.

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“That’s an area we’ve worked on, particularly in the last six weeks after that game, so by the time the girls come into [their pre-World Cup camp in] Turkey our focus can be on more technical and tactical things.

“To go into such a tournament – to travel, to play, to recover – you really need the conditioning.”

Westfield Matildas training in the US
Conditioning the key: The Westfield Matildas go through their paces in the US in April