A 17,000-strong crowd at Penrith’s Pepper Stadium will be pulling for the Matildas but at least a few in the national team set-up believe a few cheers should be saved for a true superstar of the game.
In their two-game series on Australian soil, Brazil will be led by legendary forward Marta, a five-time World Player of the Year.
Such is her dominance of the women’s game, she was voted in the top three for that award for 11 straight years — a run not even Lionel Messi can match.
While there’s debate in the men’s game for the title of the best of all time — Pele, Maradona, Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo among the contenders — coach Alen Stajcic said there was no debate in the women’s game.
“That’s not even an opinion, it’s a fact,” he said. “How many times has she won world player of the year? Anyone who can claim that trophy five times is clearly the greatest of all time.”
Having seen Marta work her magic up close, Matildas defender Steph Catley shares that opinion.
Melbourne City captain Catley counts Marta as a teammate through the U.S. season, at Orlando Pride.
The 23-year-old said Marta was “simply incredible.”
“I’ve played against her a few times at international level and knew how amazing she was — how skilled and how smart,” Catley said.
“Training with her has given me even more of an insight. How passionate she is.
“Every single training she gives 100 percent. She’s so competitive. She wants to get even more out of herself even though she’s done as much as she has.
“She works harder than anyone.
“She’s very inspiring. And at 31, she’s still playing some of her best football. It’s amazing.
“Australians should feel very privileged that they get to watch a player like her on home soil.”