Nothing can prepare players for the feeling of despair following a World Cup defeat | Joey Peters

The Matildas’ shock opening loss to Italy will have left them in a dark hole but they can emerge from it

There is no bigger game in tournament football than the first. After a four-year wait, the opener can be quite overwhelming; it’s the game everyone is talking about for weeks, even months beforehand. “Don’t look any further ahead,” they say, but even that makes it difficult not to play the game in your head before you’ve even taken to the field.

Four years is a long time in football, especially so given the comparatively short history of the Women’s World Cup; this is just the eighth edition, and the most widely anticipated one to date.

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