Sweden get revenge on Germany, book a spot in the semi-finals

3 Jul

What. Happened. Here? I mean, I know what happened but what happened. I’ve followed Sweden throughout this whole tournament this far and I’m still a bit stunned by what transpired. Twenty-four years of never winning v Germany and Sweden pull off a decisive victory in the quarter-finals of a World Cup. RESPECT.

Germany was the last team in this tournament to have not allowed a goal. What a lofty yet pressure-filled position to be in.

Make sure you go through the whole thread above for some amusement. Btw, did you know FIFA had a designated reporter for each team at the tournament? I did. Some are better than others (see above) but all are worth a look. You can find them via ‘@FIFAWWC_xxx’ with the ‘xxx’ being the three letter country code.

And in lieu of any tournament news (sorry, was super busy with life this past weekend), here’s some hot dirt instead:

Pre-match festivities

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Match overview

Germany
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Sweden
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Location: Roazhon Park, Rennes
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Referee: Stéphanie Frappart (France)
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Match details

No Dzsenifer Marozsán to start but she was on the bench. Yaasss! Sweden unchanged from their match v Canada. Why would they? We didn’t exactly wear them out. ☺️

Theme for the day –

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I really hope France has a kick-ass recycling program.

Reports were saying the temperature was around 31°C or 88°F and that there would be cooling breaks in the match. Remember when FIFA refused to allow cooling breaks during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil? I do. Eventually they did but it took some doing.

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Germany got things started to a relatively quiet crowd. Or maybe it just seemed quiet to me after enduring the noise fest that was USA v France.

It took about four minutes for the first action to hit. Hey, just like in the USA v France match! Sara Däbritz sought Carolin Simon with a pass that turned into the first corner.

The corner ball went in to meet Alexandra Popp at the far corner and she “popped” it into Hedvig Lindahl’s awaiting arms. Hehehe. I’d love to ride the crest of confidence Lindahl must be enjoying after that fierce penalty kick save v Canada for just a minute.

Linda Dallmann went in on Caroline Seger and passed the won ball forward to Lina Magull who laid it off to Däbritz who was body checked. Free kick? Free kick!

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Not much came of it though. Germany were quick to get on everything at this point but it was only seven minutes into the match. I’d be hanging back a bit too if I was Sweden. Come to think of it, I was always hang back whether I’m Sweden or not. A little personal tidbit for you.

Somehow Däbritz managed to take a shot and fall backwards at the same time. Too much power? Slippery shoes? I’d probably only manage the fall. Actually, forget the ‘probably’ part.

Germany showing some creative moves with Simon pushing out a great diagonal pass to Svenja Huth who turned out a couple Swedish players. Hanna Glas wasn’t as easy though and Huth was forced to turn back.

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Ten minutes in and the Swedish twosome of Kosavare Asllani and Sofia Jakobbson combined to give Sweden their first attacking threat. Asllani’s cross was fumbled a bit by keeper Almuth Schult but no other blue shirts were around to take advantage. Have I mentioned yet how much I like Sweden’s shiny blue away jerseys? Adidas did good.

A couple minutes later and Asllani released Jakobsson on the left. Schult picked up on the play and blocked the angle. Thankfully.

Sloppy play by Magdalena Erikkson at 16′ gave Däbritz all she needed to power down the right. She moved infield, pulling away two defenders to leave Lina Magull open in acres of space to swivel around and send a bicycle kick kabooming into the net. 1-0 Germany.

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OH LA LA! I’d call this a prestige goal.

Sweden went for the immediate response with Jakobsson trying out the left only for her cross to meet Schult. Germany headed back the other way via Huth on the right. Schüller met her pass but sent it straight at Lindahl.

Minute 22 and a clearance error by Linda Sembrant sent Jakobsson down the middle where she beat Schult with a shot to the bottom corner. Equalizer! 1-1.

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OH LA LA! I’d call that an avenging goal.

Germany made another error via Popp who gifted Stina Blackstenius but she wasted the ball.

Nilla Fischer’s turn to be sloppy now, allowing a ball to slide past her to a pouncing Huth. She tried to get in a shot but thankfully for Fischer her teammates had her back.

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Giulia Gwinn got into the play about 25 minutes in. She was released on the right and sent in a ball to Däbritz who couldn’t get a shot away from her offside position. Yes, you read that right.

A couple of near chances to break for both Germany and Sweden and then it was cooling break time.

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Fridolina Rolfö rolled a pass through to release Blackstenius. Her resulting shot forced Schult into a successful tip-over-the-crossbar situation.

Not sure what happened but Simon was hurt and had to leave the field for treatment on her knee. She was okay to continue and returned to the match.

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By this point, it was clear to me Sweden’s game plan was to release Blackstenius whenever and wherever possible. Or maybe I was projecting. Germany seemed to have picked up on this, with Sara Doorsoun breaking up yet another Swedish play involving her.

This break-up play led to a bunch of ping pong in the box before Germany managed to clear. Not that this helped as Blackstenius ended up with the ball not long after and hooked a shot over the bar. She was going to score in this match if she had to melt away trying.

Spoke too soon about Simon. She was not okay to continue and was substituted for Leonie Maier. Pretty good substitution.

Half-time: Germany 1 – Sweden 1

If you were thinking – how have Germany managed to not allow a goal until this match, you were not alone. A rather unimpressive display from the Germans in their own third.

But don’t worry – Dzsenifer Marozsán was arriving! Not that she’s part of the defense! Substituted in for Linda Dallman at the half, you could almost feel the optimism of the German fans rising. Look at how affectionately Sweden welcomed her too –

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But not for long. Jakobbson powered down the right and sent in a cross for Rolfö who aimed for the top corner. Schult managed to get her hand to it but Blackstenius was waiting for the free ball and she banged it in. 2-1 Sweden.

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Per mygypsyspirit –

the Blackstenius goal needs to be used to teach children positioning. THAT’S. WHERE. YOU’RE. SUPPOSED. TO. BE.

OMG, Sweden were on their way to not only breaking the curse of “who scores first wins the match” but also that 24-year-old losing streak. Was it possible?! This was the most I’d been excited for Sweden the whole tournament and I’ve been covering them!

This was the point where the commentator started lamenting on the Olympic qualifiers and horrible it would be for Germany to not be in attendance. Look, it’s a screwed up system but regardless someone has to be left behind. Let me remind you all England couldn’t go in 2016 because the archaic white males running the UK football associations couldn’t reach an agreement for a Great Britain team. That seems more hard-luck-ish to me than losing out on a spot because you don’t place in the top three of European teams during the World Cup. Come at me.

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Popp drove forward looking for an equalizer but Schuller couldn’t get to it. Huth gained back possession and forced Sembrant into conceding a corner. Nothing happened.

56 minutes in and Rolfö received a yellow card for impeding Magull with her leg. This meant she wouldn’t be able to play in the semi-final should Sweden hold on to their lead. Chagrin was probably what she was feeling at this moment but I editorialize.

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Lindahl came out to clear a ball and cleared it right to Däbritz who, sadly, sent her effort wide of the open net. Ooof.

I have to say it’s still a bit odd not seeing a German coach on the byline. Or maybe it’s still odd to me not to see Silvia Neid there. I know it’s been three years but grief takes time, okay?

Back to the match which was now in turns scrappy and un-eventful.

Panic in the Swedish box as Sweden were unable to clear a searching cross from Maier. Fischer eventually cleared it but suffered a leg issue as a result. Down she went and on came the medical team. It looked like a cramp which given this heat would make sense. She wanted to continue but was substituted for Amanda Ilestedt.

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Germany won a free kick and went all loaded baked potato in the box. Marozsán, who had been relatively quiet thus far, stepped up and looped the ball to Popp but it was intercepted by Sembrant and cleared.

70′ and Germany made their last substitution bringing on 17yo midfielder Lena Oberdorf for forward Schuller.

It had been a hot minute but Blackstenius was still on the hunt. Sara Doorsoun opened up acres of space on the left and Blackstenius ran through it towards the goal but Hegering wouldn’t let her pass. That was a nice move by Hegering.

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Two corners in succession for Germany but Marozsán delivered both poorly. Perhaps her toe was still causing her issues.

Another cooling break with 15 minutes left to go. And Germany sure needed it to try and regroup.

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This in from mygypsyspirit –

Fox Sports, everyone.
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Jakobsson found her way easily past Hegering and sent a shot towards the top corner. Schult was able to parry it away.

I was liking Sweden’s chances for a third goal better than Germany’s for an equalizer. I can’t believe I just wrote that.

Eight minutes left in the half and Marozsán went marauding down the left and crossed a brilliant ball into Popp who was about 10 yards out. She was flagged for offside except Lindahl smashed into her. VAR!

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After a review Popp’s offside stood and on with play we went.

Sweden made their second substitution, bringing on defender Nathalie Björn for midfielder Elin Rubensson.

An open net once again, this time with Sweden at fault. Marozsán curled a free kick to Oberdorf at the far post. Lindahl came out for it, missed, and Oberdorf sent her header wide. AAAHHHHHHH!

Blackstenius agreed with me that Sweden had a good chance for third and sent a screamer towards and then over the net.

Six minutes of additional time. Plenty of time for an equalizer, I thought silently to myself.

Three minutes in and Huth powered down the right and sent a cross to Hegering at the far post. Glas was there to cause some issues and Hegering’s header went high and wide. High. And wide.

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Final substitution with a one minute left. Sweden brought on Lina Hurtig for Rolfö. There was no point to this other than a time waster.

Final whistle.

Final score: Germany 1 – Sweden 2
HB & HB Player of the Match: Sara Däbritz GER
VISA Player of the Match: Sofia Jakobossen SWE


Final thoughts

While I collect my thoughts, here are a few from ForzaSusan:

I initially was surprised by the result when I heard about it before watching the match. How foolish of me to not take into consideration the long history of the women’s game in Sweden.

Watching the match confirmed this for me. Underestimating Sweden is foolish. I appreciated their solid and consistent play — one commentator suggested that they were slowly squeezing the Germans. It may not be flashy but it was effective.

I was surprised by the German performance, which I’ve said throughout this tournament. Even their body language seemed off this match. While I was happy to see Marozsán back, she didn’t have too much of an impact.

I had hoped this would have been a spirited match. The high temperatures clearly made this unrealistic but it was pretty surprising that the Germans had few answers in this fairly unremarkable match.

What sucks is that this result, similar to the France result, eliminates Germany from the Olympics. There really has to be a way for qualification for one tournament not to be dependent on results of another. It feels like double jeopardy.

Maybe, but I say ‘meh’. Scroll up for my comments on this.

Sweden. Oh Sweden. If not for your mighty attacking trio would you be where you are right now? I don’t know and I don’t care. You’re bringing the unexpected to this tournament and I AM HERE FOR IT. And not just because you’re part of my team assignments.

Asllani wasn’t as much of a force in this match but no matter as Jakobsson was there to carry on. Blackstenius remained as Blackstenius as ever. Overall, I thought Sweden played this game rather defensively, or more defensively I should say, which turned out to be the right strategy in the end. They didn’t seem rushed, even when they went down by a goal. I don’t know where their calm came from but it paid off in spades. Twenty-four years worth of spades.

Can they carry forward the momentum from the last two matches into a semi-final v Netherlands? They’ll need to as the Netherlands know no brakes when it comes to pouncing on every available opportunity.

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As for Germany, it felt like they were playing with one foot on the gas and one on the brake. There was no elegance to their play, no fluid rhythm. Sweden’s equalizer seemed to set them too far back on their heels, and the go ahead goal left them there. They had lots of possession in the midfield with the wonderful Däbritz and Popp combination but not much conversion.

Had Germany won, I know I would have been partying like it was 1999 … err … 2007. I remember the devastated faces when they lost the bronze medal match v England back in 2015. They were right there mere feet away from me. This would have felt like the perfect eraser to that heartbreak.

But you know who Germany needed? Melanie Behringer (or the like) but she retired from the national team 3 years ago. Bummer. Marozsán is great, no doubt, but Germany needed that extra heft of movement in the midfield to really strike fear in the hearts of opponents. Especially in this match, as Marozsán wasn’t all that impactful. But perhaps I’m romanticizing too much of the Germany that once was rather than looking forward to the Germany that can be.

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During the tournament previews I wrote, “Germany comes into the tournament with minimal pressure to win but maximum pressure to perform.” It was a rather audacious thing to say about the #2 ranked team in women’s football but I think this proved to be true in the end.

Most people I read or listened to believed they would get out of their group but there were no high expectations they would dominate. Or at least not as high of expectations as in the Neid era. They were favourites in this match because they’re Germany and this status was their reward for vaulting over those lower expectations to reach the quarter-finals.

I have zero doubt Germany will build on this and use it going forward in the Euro qualifiers. Martina Voss-Tecklenburg just started with the team this year, and a quarter-final slot was an excellent first showing. Germany will be back to being a smoothly running engine soon enough, mark my words.

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– Teri

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