DON’T COUNT THEM OUT — Down a player due to a dubious red card in the consolation match at last year’s Women’s World Cup, Sweden found a way to scoring a go-ahead goal and hold onto the lead to claim third place. This year, Sweden finds itself without several key players due to injuries. But, among the healthy is their star forward, Lotta Schelin. And, that is cause of concern for any defense.
- How They Qualified: One of top two UEFA teams in the 2011 Women’s World Cup
- FIFA Rank: #4
- Previous Olympics: 2008 (quarterfinals), 2004 (4th place), 2000 (group stage), 1996 (group stage)
- 2011 WWC Performance: Third Place
- Key Players: Lotta Schelin (forward), Caroline Seger (midfielder), Hedvig Lindahl (goalkeeper)
- Head Coach: Thomas Dennerby (Sweden)
- Team Captain: Nilla Fischer
- Recent Form: T, L, L, W
- Group Finish Probabilities: 1st, 33%; 2nd, 45%; 3rd, 17%; 4th, 5%
- Medal Chances: Decent
THE BANE OF WOMEN’S SOCCER – Four starters from the 2011 Women’s World Cup are unavailable due to an assortment of knee-related injuries. Among them is the team’s normal centerback pair, Sara Larrsson (bursitis) and Charlotte Rohlin (ACL). Also affected is veteran midfielder Therese Sjogran (ACL). Midfielder/forward Linda Forsberg retired last fall at just age 26, after having gone through five knee operations during her injury-shortened career.
COVER MODEL TURNED SOCCER MOM — Another player not available is Josefine Oqvist, who posed for a Swedish men’s magazine in 2004, has effectively been on maternity leave from soccer since late last year. In early July, she gave birth to a daughter whose father is a Danish hockey player (www.aftonbladet.se).
RECENT MATCHES — The results of Sweden’s tune-up friendlies are not encouraging. The team started out well in late May, defeating Scotland 4:1. Then, Sweden lost 1:3 to the United States and 0:1 to Japan in June. The last tune-up was an uninspiring 0:0 draw with Great Britain on the 20th, although Sweden was without its best player, forward Lotta Schelin.
GROUP CHANCES — In all likelihood, Sweden will get out of the group rather easily. However, where it finishes, no one knows… yet. Sweden opens against South Africa and should win that match fairly comfortably. After that, they will face Japan, which will be an uphill battle for Sweden to win. The final group match is against Canada, who will probably be fighting for their lives to get to the quarterfinals, so that match has the potential to be difficult, thus lessening the possibility that Sweden can win the group either outright on points or via goal differential.
PROBABLE STARTERS — Sweden’s line-up this year will be much different compared to the 2011 Women’s World Cup, not just because they are missing half of their starting field players, but also because Dennerby has switched the teams primary formation from a 4-4-2 to a 4-2-3-1.
Sweden’s only official match after it announced its Olympic roster was the tune-up against Great Britain on July 20th. In that match, Schelin did not play due to a minor injury. Dennerby elected to put Sofia Jakobsson up top in Schelin’s place and put in Marie Hammarström as a wide midfielder. (SvFF write-up on the line-up, in Swedish). Taking that into account, the probable line-up is as follows:
Svensson (RB) — Berglund (CB) — Sembrant (CB) — Thunebro (LB)
Fischer (HM) — Dahlkvist (HM)
Asllani (WM) — Seger (AM)– Jakobsson (WM)
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