England schedules friendlies against Socceroos, Matildas in London

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Manchester United and England goalkeeper Mary Earps gives ESPN FC's Ralph Karumazondo a masterclass in the art of goalkeeping. (2:41)

England and Australia have locked in an agreement that will see the Matildas and Socceroos head to London for friendly meetings in April and October, respectively.

The Matildas will travel to the capital to continue their preparations for the 2023 Women's World Cup with a fixture against the Lionesses on April 11 at Brentford Community Stadium, while the Socceroos will head to Wembley Stadium on October 13.

For Australia's women, it will mark the first meeting with their English counterparts since a 1-1 draw in 2018 and represents one of the final and perhaps most crucial tune-up fixtures for Tony Gustavsson's side ahead of this July's home World Cup.

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England are considered one of that tournament's favourites under coach Sarina Wiegman and looms as a likely Round of 16 opponent should the Matildas fail to top their group.

Though they have faced off seven times previously, most recently a 2016 friendly in Sunderland in which the hosts won 2-1, Australia's men's clash with England later this year will represent the first time they have ever met at the home of football in London.

The Socceroos famously defeated England in 2003, when they secured a stunning 3-1 upset at Upton Park thanks to goals from Tony Popovic, Harry Kewell, and Brett Emerton. Sven-Goran Eriksson in the English dugout, the English side downed that night counted Rio Ferdinand, Michael Owen, and David Beckham amongst their starters.

Loaded with players plying their trade across Europe's top leagues, that side would subsequently break Australia's 32-year World Cup drought by qualifying for Germany 2006.

Current coach Graham Arnold serving as an assistant to Frank Farina that day, it remains the only time Australia's men have tasted victory over the Three Lions, with the European powers leading the overall record with four wins and two draws.

"That night brings back some amazing memories for Australian football and football fans," Arnold said. "While we had a very talented Australian team, we were taking on an England outfit stacked with superstars, and the result made the players believe that they could take on anyone and qualify for the World Cup in 2006. It is a memory the boys will never forget."

Whereas the connection may be tenuous, the Matildas will be hoping that a positive result against England can likewise bode well for their World Cup campaign -- the contest yet another test against top European opposition that has been prioritised by Gustavsson since his ascension.

Though bad results and sometimes worse performances at the beginning of his tenure against this calibre of opponent threatened his job security, recent wins over a Sweden side ranked second in the world and a rising Spanish outfit has fostered a sense of momentum around the team heading into the World Cup.

"We are delighted to have secured a high calibre side in the Women's Euro Champions, England, as part of the final phase of our preparations for the FIFA Women's World Cup," Gustavsson said.

"As one of the best teams in the world, it's a chance for us to continue to gather crucial information on our style, our play and what we will need to continue evolving ahead of July's kick-off."

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According to Football Australia CEO James Johnson, the strategy of securing high-profile and high-powered opponents for the Matildas will be ported over to the men's program for the 2026 World Cup cycle.

The nation's expectations raised after the Socceroos' surprise run to the Round of 16 in Qatar and the re-emergence of Australians across European leagues, the side will play a yet-to-be-announced opponent at home during the men's March window as preparations begin for an Asian Cup likely to be delayed until January 2024.

"Over the last two years, Football Australia has been dedicated to creating the right environment for national team success," said Johnson. "This means replicating tournament football by playing higher-ranked opponents on a more regular basis to ensure the best preparation and that our teams are peaking come tournament time.

"For the Matildas, this has seen us playing against more top 10 ranked nations plus European and South American opponents. We will be replicating that strategy for the Socceroos in the upcoming FIFA World Cup cycle.

"These two international matches in the same calendar year mark an important moment for Australian football, especially since there is a re-emergence of Australian footballers playing for clubs in the United Kingdom.

"Australian football is slowly re-establishing itself in English and European football again which is pleasing to see. The fact we have been able to secure this double fixture against England at a time when they are two of the best teams in world football is a sign of the drawing power of our national teams."