Brazil-Sweden preview: Can Sweden use U.S. blueprint to win again?

Ray Curren August 16, 2016 184
Pia Sundhage' game plan for the United States worked. (Photo Copyright Harjeet Johal for The Equalizer)

Pia Sundhage’ game plan for the United States worked. (Photo Copyright Harjeet Johal for The Equalizer)

Being called a “coward” is not quite the same as being dubbed a “chicken”, but even if Brazil spends the hours between now and Tuesday’s Olympic semifinal clucking outside their hotel, I don’t think Pia Sundhage and Sweden will change their tactics that pulled off the fairly monumental upset of the United States in the quarterfinals Friday.

Even Hope Solo realizes by now that her comments were almost completely inaccurate. Sweden played the game it felt it needed to against the reigning world champions (and three-time defending Olympic champions) and it’s really, really hard to argue with the final results, as frustrating as they are for the vanquished. Sundhage is obviously not the first one in soccer history to put 10 players behind the ball, concede possession and look to counterattack. They also aren’t the first one to do it successfully, even this summer. Iceland – deservedly so – became the darlings of the soccer world by doing a lot of it in the European championships, and they were hailed almost exclusively, with no one calling them “cowards.” Well, almost no one.

Yes, the Sweden women are not the Iceland men, complete with a proud tradition that dates back all the way to 1973 (which might as well be B.C. in women’s soccer history), and have gotten plenty of results in their history without such tactics. But the last time Sweden was in a knockout game it was destroyed by Germany 4-1 and were throttled worse by Brazil 5-1 just last week in game where the scoreline could have been much worse.

Sundhage also pretty much telegraphed what the approach she was going to take to the game against the U.S., so it wasn’t some shock. And she’ll do it again on Wednesday, with the previous paragraph giving you plenty enough cause to do so.

Will it work again? It just might, you know.

BRAZIL vs. SWEDEN, Noon EDT (NBCSN)

PREVIOUS HISTORY:

Brazil 5-3-1

THE MATCHUP:

Brazil looks even more susceptible to a counterattacking team than the U.S. did, and probably won’t have their best goal scorer in Cristiane again with a hamstring injury (a huge loss that wasn’t talked about much in Brazil’s game with Australia). Vadao adjusted by putting Marta in her place as lone striker and she was excellent, running at the Matilda defense at every opportunity, but didn’t quite have the support to get the job done in the end.

The two central midfielders Brazil has employed – Debinha and Beatriz – are both very talented players, but will be in a tough spot. They want to help break Sweden down and will likely be needed to do so, but don’t want to leave the center open for a counter. Formiga, at 38, has been excellent at these Olympics, but also does not want to abandon the middle. Sweden handled the U.S. set pieces very well and will have to do the same on Wednesday.

So what is Brazil to do? Well, score, of course. Easier said than done, but that’s how they routed Sweden in the group stage game last week, getting two relatively early and forcing the Swedes to come out and play. It’s tough to see a scenario where Sweden can come back from a couple of goals down. Without Cristiane, though, getting that lead may prove difficult and with every minute that passes, the expected 65,000 in Rio will get more and more tense.

BEST PRIOR OLYMPIC FINISH:

Brazil – Silver (2004, 2008)

Sweden – 4th place (2004, assured at least 4th in 2016)

PLAYERS TO WATCH:

Brazil: Debinha – Other than Marta and Cristiane, Debinha has seemed the most likely to break down defenses. At 24, she’s relatively inexperienced (although this will likely be her 50th cap) and there will be plenty of pressure on her in front of basically her entire country. But that may be the inspiration some people need to break through.

Sweden: Stina Blackstenius – Like Debinha, Blackstenius has been thrown into the fire a bit due to injury (this one to Fridolino Rolfo, who has been ruled out of the rest of the Olympics), but she obviously showed the ability against the U.S., and also had plenty of energy, all the way through extra time. That energy will be key as she is forced to likely chase a lot and wait for a Brazilian mistake.

UNDER THE RADAR:

Brazil: Formiga – It’s game five of a tournament that features a lot of travel and not much rest time. Formiga has not shown any signs of slowing down yet in this tournament, but might this be the time that things catch up to her? She’ll play a key role (as she has for most of the last two decades) in what Brazil does.

Sweden: Elin Rubensson – She hopes it doesn’t happen too often, but she might be the one staring at Marta running at her with the ball Tuesday. She’ll obviously need some help, but with the attacking talent (Andressa Alves, Thaisa) Brazil has to offer, their defenders will have to do a solid job in 1v1 situations, as they did for the most part against the United States.

Brazil: Home cooking – It will be the atmosphere that Brazilian (and South American) women’s soccer has been waiting for, well, forever. A sellout crowd should await and it should be awesome for women’s soccer. But will it raise the nerves of the Brazilian players a little too much?

OVERVIEW:

Brazil does seem pretty ripe for a disciplined team willing to sit in and wait for their chances. However, it is not an easy style to win with consistently and pulling it off two matches in a row might be a bit too difficult to pull off.

PREDICTION:

Brazil 1-0

  • Steglitz49

    Brazil can dribble. Marta seems to be on song. Their team is playing sparkling soccer.

    It is home grass in one of the holy of holies of soccer.

    Nevertheless, Rio 1950, Bern 1954 and Frankfurt 2011 tell their stories and strike dread into the hearts of coaches and managers.

    • guest

      So what’s your prediction of the match, Steg? Brazil too good for the Swedes?

      • Steglitz49

        Most likely, yes. Probably not 5-1 again but Brazil ought to win this one. Not least if they studied the video of last Friday’s match!

  • ARED

    Most likely Sweden will be physical and foul a lot, and the referee will allow it. Brazil may get caught in a negative reaction which they must avoid if the match is close….but it seems almost inevitable that the referee will have a big impact, which is never ideal.

    Sweden will be encouraged in knowing they do not need to score (and by the fact that this approach just beat the USA). They know they can defend for 90 minutes, and after that anything can happen. Brazil would love an early goal to force Sweden out -we’ll see if they can get it. If the game remains even into the second half or they fall behind, the pressure will be very high.

    • Steglitz49

      Let’s trust that the refereeing is up to scratch.

      Sweden almost had the last match stolen from them by inept refereeing. Insteady of a win in regulation time they faced extra time. Instead of a win in extra time, Sweden had to prevail penalties.

      I gather that some American players already have gone home instead of staying on in Rio and enjoying the spirit of the Olympics. Zika, zika.

    • Williegsandidge4

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    • Craigaroo

      I just noticed the referees for both semifinals will be the same referees as the group stage matches between the same teams…! Lucila Venegas (Mexico) will be the referee for Brazil/Sweden, just as she was for their group stage game. And Hwang Ok Ri will be referee for Germany/Canada again. Since the refereeing didn’t seem a matter of controversy in either group stage game, let’s hope it bodes well for the semifinals. In both cases, the teams should have some confidence in their referees and they’ll know what to expect.

    • Frode

      I have a feeling Tamirez will make a major contribution this game. She is one of the most under-rated wing backs in the game. Very skillful. Tough as nails. Cold as ice (loved her PK in the quarterfinal).

      • ARED

        Yes, a great player. I feel all of Brazil’s defenders have been ignored/underrated a lot by outside parties. I thought Tamires was one of the better players at the World Cup last year and specifically this year I thought she, Monica, and Fabiana were quite good. I think losing Fabiana hurt Brazil a lot, and maybe could have helped breaking down Sweden. Poliana was good in her place of course, but maybe not so effective in creating things.

        I don’t know it’s funny…I just posted somewhere else about how it seemed odd how much everyone loved Buchanon and she got the FIFPro Best XI (despite some big flaws I believe), yet a quality defender like Tamires gets almost no mention from anyone. (So I’m glad you did!).

  • MurderOnZidanesFloor

    This article has a few errors, and I’m not talking about the grammatical and spelling ones most people complain about. Debinha and Beatriz have both been playing in Brazil’s front 4, so its a bit of stretch to call them central midfielders. Likewise I wouldn’t consider Thaisa an important part of Brazil’s attacking talent as she’s been playing as a holding midfield player allowing Formiga to roam wherever she is needed.

    If Cristiane was fit I’d totally back Brazil to break through Sweden, but without her its going to be a tough task. Debinha, Beatriz and Andressa Alves are all good players but don’t seem to be particularly free scoring, which is putting all the pressure on Marta. Its also worth considering how tired these sides are likely to be, considering they’ve just played all the way through to penalties a few days ago. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this ends up a boring 0-0 with neither side able to commit much going forward.

    • Steglitz49

      The question will soon be answered. Have Sweden learnt from their 5-1 drubbing and their victory against the US? Iow, will we see a repeat of WC-54?

      The safe money is on Brazil winning but then the safe money was on Biles taking yet another gold with Hernandez second and Cate Campbell and Hossu winning their races.

    • Bruce

      Can’t see how Sweden beats Brazil. If they open it up again they’ll get slaughtered. If they pack it in, I trust Marta and Co. will show more patience than the US in picking them apart.

      • Steglitz49

        Only an hour to go till the start.

        • Bruce

          Lycka till!

    • ForeverLOST108

      Another error in the article – Equalizer is saying that Brazil probably wont have Cristiane but a quick search shows that Cristiane is “fit” according to Vadao. There were reports of it yesterday that she is in full training and he wouldn’t give his lineup decision until an hour before game time. Now seeing the starting lineup, she is listed as a sub and will/wont be used depending on the game – but it was pretty easy for me to find info on whether she would be fit enough for at least the bench (and she is).

      • Peter

        Cristiane may be “fit”, whatever that means. But she is not playing. If she were ready to play she would be in the game (given that she is the second best offensive Brazilian player). Unfortunately, she isn’t.

  • newsouth

    who you think got this game?

  • Bruce

    I missed the first half of BRA-AUS, but caught the final 45 + 30. Marta played on the flank the entire time. Did she really play lone striker for an extended period?

    • Steglitz49

      The author has previously revealed himself as an ignorant peasant and this article is no different. He is high on name recognition and low on substance.

    • CED

      Marta plays wide right, so when she cuts in she is on her left foot. She also tries to play the diagonal ball ..a la Messi to the other wing or overlapping left back

  • Gary Diver

    NOT LOSING IS EVERYTHING

    If the only thing that counts are results and Sweden successfully uses rope-a-dope soccer against Brazil, ugly soccer will become a common strategy in WoSo. Mark Parsons recently successfully used that strategy against Seattle.

    Any coach of an inferior team can hedge his/her odds by using this strategy. It is always easier to defend than attack and most importantly, a rope-a-dope strategy will nearly always reduce the goal difference against a talented, superior team. Think about it. If the probibility of losing by at least 3-1 is 80% by playing positive, straight-up soccer and the probability of obtaining a 0-0, 1-0 (win or loss) or 1-1 result is 40%, the coach should play negative soccer if results are what matter.

    Rope-a-dope soccer aims for either a tie or a win if the team has counter-attacking capabilities. It is negative soccer and ugly soccer. It is negative soccer in sense that it’s goal is to negate the talents and learned skills of superior players.

    Portland used 5 defenders against Seattle. If a team uses 5 or 6 defenders, it is extremely difficult to penetrate the penalty box. Eventually frustration will set in as it did in the Portland/Seattle and USWNT/Sweden games.

    In the men’s game, you would see long direct shot on goal as a way to counteract a rope-a-dope style defense. That does not work with women because rarely have the accuracy and/or strength to pinpoint long-range shots.

    USWNT failed against Sweden for two reasons beyond the obvious of not scoring two goals. First, USWNT used essentially two defenders when it was obvious they were very susceptible to counter-attacks. Second, Ellis’ slow, methodically ball movement played into the hand of tbe Swedes in that it allowed them to form their defense form.

    “The perfect is the enemy of the good.” USWNT needed to attack quickly before Sweden had time to set up their defended. I believe USWNT would have won the QF match if they had as many quick counter-attacks as Sweden. USWNT was too slow in its transition game.

    Normally one would hope that set pieces could be used to break a bunker siege but USWNT’s corner kicks were unimpressive and there were few header opportunities that were serious.

    At this point, the bigger question is “what has Jill Ellis learned from the Swedish QF?”

    • Hans Castorp

      The US just has to bribe Fifa and the IOC and make sure they’re unlikely to face Sweden in tournaments. Problem solved.

      • Steglitz49

        I think we can safely say that WC-15 will be the last tournament when the US gets gifts from Zurich. There is a new chap in charge now.

    • #1Fan

      how is this new?

      • Gary Diver

        It is new in two ways.

        1. In the past, bunker soccer was associated with very weak teams.

        2. In the past, bunker soccer was thought to be a strategy of last resort.

        For ANY team who has less than a 30% of winning, a version of bunker soccer should be considered for a game plan. Even if you lose, it will reduce the goal difference. If you have strong defenders, you’ll greatly increase the probability of a draw. And if you have counter-attack abilities, you could eke out a 1-0 victory.

        USWNT should be facing rope-a-dope soccer from every opponent except the top 4-6 teams and they (aka Ellis) find a way to counter it (such as using quick counter-attacks instead of slow ball movement).

        • #1Fan

          This has existed forever. Chelsea did it under Mourinho. It’s a valid tactic for any team at a usage of a game. People are acting like its new simply because it has been successful vs a high profile US Team

    • #1Fan

      You need discipline to do it well . It is by no means easy.

    • Steglitz49

      The thin blue line held firm. It takes organization and concentration.

      Lindahl-Dahlkvist forever in their hearts.

  • Bruce

    Markgraf is actually providing some good insight for this game. Makes her auto-filtering when calling USWNT games really stand out.

  • Ethan

    Mishandled a cross late in extra time, but I see why Lindahl’s starting for Sweden on the basis of her last two matches. Guessed right on every penalty; that was Cech-esque in the 2012 Champions League final.

    • CED

      Actually, Lindahl doesn’t guess on PK’s. She waits and thus always goes the right way and is banking on 1 or 2 people not to hit it well. 2 did not hit it well and she got a hand on another. IMO, this is the best strategy b/c many players do not hit PK’s side netting, they go a little safer thus making 1 or 2 of 5 saveable

      • Ethan

        Maybe. She definitely didn’t guess on Cristiane’s; she waited for that. However, I thought she guessed on other ones. She definitely didn’t wait on Horan’s and Press’; she went the wrong way on those.

    • Steglitz49

      Plays for Chelsea too.

  • Frode

    For WWC19, the successful team will need to have a bunker-buster lineup.

    • Steglitz49

      Practicing against tomato cans to beat all sorts of meaningless records comes home to roost eventually.

    • Chak Khan

      Or they themselves will be the bunkers. What would happen if both teams bunkered?

  • Frode

    Loved seeing Lindahl and Marta hugging after that shootout. Class.

    • John

      Marta & Schelin hugging before the shootout as well. That’s what the Olympics is about.

      • AlexH

        But taking hugs out of context and lacing it with innuendo is what the internet is about! Let the rumors begin!

        • John

          Well they both play for the same club team now so…….

  • Miami66

    Damn wanted to see Brazil in the final. Guess I’ll pull for Canada.

    How was the match overall? Only saw first 15mins and the PK shootout. Similar to USA-Sweden with Brazil dominating shots?

    • Ethan

      To be frank, I didn’t think Brazil created better than the US in the minutes I saw (30th minute to half time and 54th minute to the end). The US had the almost own goal and Lloyd and Pugh had clear shooting opportunities; Brazil didn’t do any more than that.

      I know people will talk about Sweden being lucky and ruining the game with their defensive strategy and that they didn’t come to play. However, I’d say Brazil are somewhat lucky that Blackstenius and Schelin spent too much time on the ball on Sweden’s two good breaks.

      • AlexH

        Those people would be idiots. You don’t get to the gold medal game without “coming to play”

      • rkmid71

        I started watching at about 25′ in first half. During last 20′, Brazil had 5-6 quality shots/chances on goal. The US had 6 shots on goal for the game. We have to wait for official stats, but I think Brazil had quite a few more shots and shots on goal than the US. Nevertheless, they scored ZERO goals versus the U.S. scoring 1. I thought Brazil got frustrated and lost patience towards the end. Sweden sure has bought into that way of playing … it’s got to be exhausting to be on the back foot for 90 or 120′. To their credit though, they stay strong and their goalie is very solid. I suspect they’ll play a bit more in the final. I agree, Sweden had a couple golden chances in regular time that they squandered. Against the US they converted.

        • Ethan

          5-6 quality shots/chances on goal? I guess I watched a different game. Are you talking about those shots that professional goalkeepers should comfortably save? My recollection could very likely be wrong though.

          • rkmid71

            I’m talking about a solid header off a cross that could just have easily been a foot to the right or higher or lower, Marta making a great move and missing just wide on the toe poke shot, the corner kick that bounced right in front of the goal and nearly went in back post. And some others.

          • Ethan

            The toe poke shot? Quality dribbling (which Marta showed on another shot later), but not a quality chance for me. I never really thought that corner kicks factor in these conversations about chance creation because people focus their praise on creation in the run of play. I do remember one or two headers that Brazil could have done better on though. (Let’s not forget that ridiculous offside call on Dunn following Pugh’s nutmeg pass, and while she was incorrectly judged as offside, Lloyd’s shot at the end of the first half was a better chance than any Brazil opportunity I saw.)

        • Steglitz49

          The US’s goal came off a foul. An observant ref would have given Sweden a freekick.

          • rkmid71

            Noted. Nonetheless, the record book shows Alex Morgan scored an important equalizing goal. Sometimes I think the refs just fall asleep and stop paying attention.

  • Peter

    Steg, what’s Swedish for catenaccio ?
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catenaccio

  • Guest

    If Canada win the gold medal match is going to be unbearably boring. It feels like we’re destined for another Portugal type winner.

  • BGH123

    I feel like to beat the Swedish bunker you are going to have to hit a great long range shot. They collapse on the ball in the box

    • BGH123

      Or send numbers wide once you get in the box

      • AlexH

        Or not waste your time playing “modern soccer” and focus on physicality, opportunism, and marksmanship.

        • BGH123

          I think we were doomed by not having playmakers in the middle. This game just solidified it. If you have someone who can hold up play in the center and then spread it wide near the box, you can at least stretch their bunker

          • AlexH

            We were doomed by a lack of finishing. Tobin reached the end line about a dozen times and put in dangerous balls. Pugh and Dunn rounded their defender and made good attacks in the PK area. The problem was that we couldn’t put anything on target.

          • BGH123

            I think Pia knew we relied on Tobin and co going endline and crossing it in. If we had a central playmaker we could have diversified

          • Steglitz49

            Maybe Germany will have?

        • CED

          Clueless.

          • AlexH

            Winning.

          • Steglitz49

            Whining?

          • CED

            Yes, you’re winning like Charlie Sheen. When are you going to rehab?

        • brdn08

          Why can’t the US do both?

          • AlexH

            They can. It’s just a matter of priority. I think that strong physical players playing directly should be the steak while technically gifted players should provide the sizzle.

          • Steglitz49

            You can go through the Swedish team and apply your labels of “steak” and “sizzle” to each one of them. Just start now. the floor is yours.

          • AlexH

            Oh no. That is a job for the Segmeister.

          • brdn08

            The system is rigged to give way too much job security amd once a player is comfortable further development tends to be an afterthought

          • Steglitz49

            Overpaid?

          • brdn08

            No accountability.

          • Steglitz49

            Indeed. Your comment is spot on.

    • Steglitz49

      You need proper players who can play soccer.

    • Frode

      I takes dedicated tactics and the right players. For example, against a team like Sweden, you need to get the ball forward (centrally, or along the wings) then get numbers around the ball, shifting the attacking players to the strong side to maintain possession in tight spaces. This tears apart a bunker. Endless crosses into thick coverage doesn’t usually work. It’s important that the holding mid stays deep and central and the weak-side outside back drops into a three back formation (like Brazil did against Sweden). You need technical players to do this, not necessarily fast or big ones, but technical ones. Of course, I may have no actual idea what I’m talking about…

      • rkmid71

        I think it’s about movement and quick passing — and some creativity. Doing something unexpected. Teamwork and patience, force them to defend for long periods. Change pace.Slow then fast. Players that work together, communicate. Go inside, then out wide — spread them out and keep the ball moving for the defense to constantly adjust. I thought Brazil was moving the ball more quickly than the US did.

        • BGH123

          Yeah we possess in the back way too much, which is not surprising or fast paced

        • Frode

          When you have 9 players behind the ball in two solid ranks across the field, spraying it wide doesn’t spread the bunker out much and leaves the central defenders in place. Teams that have a striker who’s dominant in the air (e.g., Popp) may try this, but otherwise it’s close to futile. The key is tight possession and numbers pull the central defenders up, left or right, then get behind for quick on-the-ground crosses, or drop back for long shots.

          • rkmid71

            Yes, but good dribblers like Pugh and Dunn require 2-3 defenders and for those defenders to condense the space or gang tackle. Opening space out wide. I remember Dunn doing that a couple times. Dribbling across the top of the box and dropping it out wide — and we got quality chances or shots from Pugh, etc. but as others have said the finishing was off. When players like that are dribbling others need to be moving and looking to give them options either on the ground or in the air.

          • Frode

            Bunkers invite teams to take it out wide and cross (witness USA vs. SWE, BRA vs. SWE). Those balls are easily headed away (unless you have a player like Popp or Wambach sitting in the box). To bust a bunker from out wide, you need numbers around the ball to pull the center defenders out of position. Otherwise they camp out. I bet Nilla Fisher ran no more than 1/8th of a mile in the whole game today.

          • rkmid71

            Not looking to cross by taking it out wide necessarily. If a wide player beats somebody endline you’re drawing the central defenders and opening space. Pugh and Dunn both did it a couple times, but no one got on the end of it. It’s like the other players were standing around watching. They got to time it correctly and go HARD to meet the pass.

  • Miami66

    I hope women/girls playing soccer in Brazil get more of an opportunity. Brazil making the final really would’ve helped, but maybe winning a Bronze will?

  • AlexH

    It seems that modern, sophisticated, skill based soccer only works against tomato cans. To win when it counts you gotta be tough, physical and ruthlessly practical. Here’s hoping that the powers that be in the USA take note of this. We got the toughest, fittest, fastest bad asses on the planet. It’s time for them to sharpen their elbows and get the job done for 2019.

    • Guest

      I am very ready to see rule changes to hurt the effectiveness of teams who only park the bus. The alternative is to have no 3rd place teams go through ingroup stages.

      • AlexH

        I think that would be a good rule change whatever opinion you have on parking the bus. Knockout rounds are for winners.

        • Steglitz49

          If the USA-Sweden match had been correctly refereed Sweden should have won in regulation and also in the unnecessary extra time.

          The US has benefitted from inept refereeing. The way forward for WoSo is to fix female refereeing too.

          • AlexH

            Well why not cure cancer and bring about peace in the Middle East while you are at it.

            Changing a tournament format is a lot easier then fixing refereeing.

          • Steglitz49

            There is no need to change a format which benefitted the USA 4 times out of 5 — 6 now granted.

          • AlexH

            When did the USA ever advance from 3rd place?

      • AlexH

        Another rule change that would penalize parking the buss and would make for more aggressive soccer is to change the PK area from 18 x 44 to 22 x 36. Same area but it makes the dangerous part in front of the goal part of the penalty area. Defenders couldn’t maul people as they tried to play through the center which would reward good passing teams.

      • Steglitz49

        Soccer only changes rules when they have to. Drogba forever in their hearts will now be Lindahl-Dahlkvist in all Swedish hearts and on their flags.

    • Steglitz49

      The thin blue line held firm.

    • CED

      Yes, that’s b/c Barca and Bayern never win trophies…LOL. Your theory is silly.

      • AlexH

        Woso and broso are different sports. What works for 1 doesn’t necessarily work for the other and there are lots of broso teams that do extremely well winning ugly.

        • Steglitz49

          Japan’s and USA’s men have not yet been world champions.

      • John

        Mourinho’s Inter played Catenaccio against Peps Barca back in 2010 and beat them.

        It takes iron discipline to pull it off. Tomato Cans don’t have that discipline. Stronger teams do.

        • CED

          So considering Barca wins all but a few games a yr the entire world of club fball are tomato cans….LOL. Btw, Barca won the tie but a absolute ridiculous call taking away a goal.

          • John

            In Spain at the time yes. Do you watch La Liga much? I watch it every week and most teams, bar Atletico Madrid, Valencia (sometimes) and Real Madrid, bunker down against Barca.

            And Barca were well beaten at the Guiseppe Meazza the week before.

          • CED

            I watch every Barca game. I have been a Barca fan for 30+ years. How successful is bunkering against Barca in La liga? In C-league? Not much b/c Barca knows how to break it down. Btw, even Atletico has just won 1 of their last 8 against Barca and they are deemed the best defensive team possibly in all of Europe.

      • Steglitz49

        Lindahl-Dahlkvist forever in their hearts, like it says Drogba on Chelsea’s.

  • Steglitz49

    “Lindahl-Dahlkvist for ever in our hearts”, should be the text on Swedish flags to follow Chelsea’s example. Sweden should follow

  • Steglitz49

    Their blue strip must be Sweden’s lucky strip like the English consider playing in red lucky.

  • Steglitz49

    Nilla Fischer, Linda Sembrandt and Hedvig Lindahl, the core to a strong defense.

  • Miami66

    Sweden wouldn’t even be in Rio if Wales, Scotland & Northern Ireland allowed England to put on the Great Britain jersey and play. Regardless of how they got there and whether its fun to watch or not, funny how they’re now in the final.

    • Steglitz49

      Thank you. Indeed. Sweden are in Rio. They are in the final. They got to Rio by winning the 4 team play-off for that place that the British Isles vacated.

      Lindahl-Dahlkvist forever in the hearts of all Swedes.

    • CED

      There is no GBR soccer team normally so it would nonsensical to let England playing under it. Any team would have to have players from the other countries which would be get into political nonsense on who and who many players from other countries.

      • AlexH

        What they could do is have a mini tournament and let the winner represent GBR at the Olympics. That way the ladies from Britain have at least a chance to be Olympians.

        • Hans Castorp

          Or they should send a team representing their country like everybody else. Maybe we should send 50 teams.

        • CED

          GBR is political obsolete conglomeration, that was really formed by force of England imposing itself on countries who didn’t want to be part of it. The only good of Brexit maybe the end of this archaic nonsense of GBR

      • Steglitz49

        Gbr were offered to let England but only English players play in Rio PROVIDED that the other 3 Home Unions agreed. They did not, for obvious reasons.

        • CED

          That is always the rule. 2012 there was an exception made b/c they were host. It won’t happen again unless England hosts again. The other countries while part of UK take extreme pride in being separate in some ways, especially international football

          • Steglitz49

            Because their officials benefit from it. Not just players but refs and administrators, not least the administrators.

            When Wales reach the SF of Euro-16 and Northern Ireland advance from their group while England is knocked out by a country with 330,000 inhabitants, why should they unite?

  • Frode

    What a PK strike by Behringer! Wow.

    • BGH123

      God canada has no discipline. How many times are they going to be punished for stupid fouls before someone teaches them how to tackle

      • ARED

        And as usual, only about half of the fouls are actually called/carded. Buchanon’s tackle was an obvious yellow, possibly red even without regarding whether it was a goal scoring chance. I assume she was just too excited going into that challenge, because she never should have gone at all. Perhaps Herdman’s battle mindset comes back to hurt them in the end.

        Giving away the first goal essentially gave away the match. Unlike Sweden, who held the USA and Brazil off until the pressure and fatigue grew making later stages more even (and obviously the penalties are the great equalizer).

  • John

    I only saw the second half and extra time & penalties, but I thought Marta had a bit of a shocker.

    Full credit to Sweden. Parkera bussen worked. I’d like to see Schelin win a Gold so I hope they do win it now.

  • Steglitz49

    “Miracle on the Maracana” is a headline in Sweden.

    • rkmid71

      Belief is a powerful thing! One to go.

      • Steglitz49

        Germany will be harder than Canada. Canada would be better for Sweden. It does not look lilkely, however.

        • FlyingSquirrel42

          Sweden vs. Canada would be a real Cinderella match for the ages. I’m not sure who I’d root for. I’m more familiar with the Canadian players, and as a Washington Spirit fan I’m happy for DMath and Labbe, but not always too fond of Herdman or their style of play. And both teams have one historically exceptional goal-scorer (Sinclair and Schelin) who probably deserve to retire with a championship to their name.

          • Steglitz49

            It looks like Germany have found their grove and fouling has caught up with Canada.

  • Guest

    Did Sweden even attempt to score once? Such a bullshit medal if they do win. Totally undeserved.

    • CED

      You clearly didn’t watch the game.

    • Steglitz49

      They did. They also lost 3 corners they should have had, so the could not maintain pressure in attack.

      It was the same lineswoman, who now needs to run to the opticians. To get one corner wrong is unfortunate. To get two wrong, seems like carelessness. To get three wrong, all against the same team is decidedly odd.

    • Paul Klee

      330+ minutes without scoring, certainly does not deserve a medal.

      • Ethan

        I was hoping someone would make this comment. Regardless of Brazil’s play in the first two games and Sweden’s defensive play, that is not an impressive stat.

        • Steglitz49

          1-0 against USA followed by 2-1 disallowed by dreadful refs.

      • Steglitz49

        Sweden scored 1-0 against USA. They also scored 2-1 but that goal was erroneously disallowed by incompetent refs.

        • Ethan

          Steglitz49, we’re talking about Brazil. 0-0 against South Africa followed by 240+ scoreless minutes.

          • Steglitz49

            Who cares?

            The Miracle in the Maracana is what tonight is about.

            Brazil trounced Sweden 5-1 in that group game. Then Brazil drew and Sweden drew because they did not need to win. No need to pick up needless injuries.

          • Ethan

            I made my comment because you replied to Paul Klee and me with what Sweden did. We weren’t talking about Sweden at all.

          • Steglitz49

            Today is today and tomorrow is tomorrow. We are not selling yesterday’s news to yesterday’s teams.

          • Guest

            He is not speaking about yesterday’s news. He is not speaking about Sweden. Shut up.

          • Steglitz49

            The thread starts with –“Did Sweden even …” — no other country is mentioned except Sweden by myself (and USA). What is your point?

          • Guest

            My point is that do not respond with off-topic points to people. That had nothing to do with the point that was being made. It was about Brazil not deserving a spot after being scoreless since group play.

          • Steglitz49

            Brazil was not mentioned till long after I commented.

            Please apply Healey’s first law of politics asap.

          • Guest

            The 330+ minutes without scoring comment obviously was in reference to Brazil and not Sweden, since it applies to them and not Sweden.

            Please apply common sense.

        • Paul Klee

          I was talking about Brasil

          • Steglitz49

            Far from clear. Brazil had won the group so did not care about South-Africa and wanted to avoid needless injuries.

          • Paul Klee

            330+ in addition to stoppage time is the equivalent to 4 matches, frankly that sucks.

      • Miami66

        Hope they turn it back on in the Bronze match. Women’s soccer would do well to have a final big moment in Brazil with them winning something.

    • Guest

      Lmao the most pathetic thing is that sweden scored 2 goals on our horrible defense. We deserved that loss. And sweden has a stone cold goalie and strong minded, composed players. Pia did her job.

      • Steglitz49

        Forsooth.

  • Chak Khan

    Did not see the game. SWE outed Brazil on PK. Did the former used the bunker tactic on the latter?

    • David K Anderson

      Very much so. Bunker and foul a lot, counting on the ref being unwilling to call most of them or give persistent infringement bookings. It’s ugly, ugly football…but it’s effective if the opposing team cant beat it with well-coordinated, patient attacking play (you know, the kind of play the US team is so NOT built to do). Brazil did a bit better, but like the US, couldn’t finish their chances.

      The US won’t beat this tactic if they keep to the same tactical approach they’ve been using. They’ve been moving in the right direction in terms of philosophy of play…but it’s a slow process, largely because the old guard players (who don’t have the technical chops to play the right style to defeat bunkering) have so much political power.

      • Steglitz49

        Brazil had picked up 3 yellow cars before Sweden picked up its first. Sweden only got 2 so Brazil won the yellow card battle.

      • Miami66

        Well they have players capable of handling it. (Heath, Rapinoe, Dunn, Pugh), but they need to make it a team focus going forward.

        • David K Anderson

          Exactly. Those four (and Horan, Lavelle, etc.) are the sorts of players that will allow the US to remain a power. Our reversion to Abbyball in this tournament was a bad, bad sign…

          • Steglitz49

            Colombia 2, USA 2 tells a worse tale than the match against sweden.

        • Frode

          Pugh and Heath, yes, Dunn, no. Not unless she can improve her ball control. I’m a big fan of Dunn, but she is not currently bunker-buster material. You need highly technical and creative attacking players like Klingenberg, Brian, Horan, Press, Pugh and Morgan. I am certain there are college players who fit the profile as well.

          • David K Anderson

            I think that’s what she’s (mostly) done, myself. Her touch has noticeably improved, and I think she took some of the criticism of that part of her game to heart and put in a lot of work. Nobody’s going to mistake her for Heath of Vero on the ball, but I think she’s definitely improved.

          • Frode

            I agree. I’ve noticed a marked improvement in her technical game, and if she continues on this path, she will be awesome.

          • Steglitz49

            The US now has 3 years to get it right.

          • rkmid71

            Despite her size, Dunn is very hard to push off the ball, good balance and she’s very quick. Low center of gravity. Defenders really have focus on containment more than anything. And I think her decision making has improved a lot.

          • Guest

            Dunn’s biggest asset is her ability to accelerate and quickly change directions. I still think she has trouble picking out passes in the final third but if you get her the ball against an isolated defender she is going to make life very difficult for them. Her touch is good enough to be a very successful dribbler 1v1 but probably not good enough to beat the help after. Her crossing has improved enormously.

      • Peter

        David, the halftime stats shown on my tv screen (I watched a BBC broadcast) showed that Sweden committed 0 fouls in the first half (Brazil had 4 called against them). I think the first time a Swedish player was called for a foul was no earlier than the 65th minute.

  • Hmm

    Jill Ellis looking better right now

    • CED

      Not al all!

    • Steglitz49

      How?

      • Guest

        Another far superior team fell to this bullshit tactic/cointoss

        • Frode

          They didn’t play superior soccer today. In the first half, the Brazilian attack was tepid, in the second, impatient.

          • Steglitz49

            Verily.

        • CED

          Playing on the counter attacking and sitting back has been around forever. People please stop this whining. You sound like you just discovered the game. Good teams know how to break it down literally 90% of the time. The US hadn’t a clue, Brazil was doing okay the first 30 minutes and then lost their patience

        • Miami66

          I’m not crazy about that style but its not BS. Men’s teams do it all the time against superior attacking teams. Its just that there are women’s teams now who are able to pull it off, like Sweden and sometimes China.

          It used to be teams like the US would face the bunker against weaker teams like Haiti, Guatemala, etc. But those teams don’t have nearly the defensive power of Sweden or China, so they failed big time. Teams like the USA, Japan, Brazil, France now have to adjust and work on finishing against tough defenses. They were all taken down by it (Japan in Qualifying – falling 3rd behind China).

          • Steglitz49

            Thank you.

          • Miami66

            Yeah, but we can all be honest that watching games like USA-France and Brazil-Australia, USA-Japan, etc are much more exciting. But you just can’t get that all the time. Its not Sweden’s strength, but they have a mean counter so defense works.

          • Steglitz49

            You play with the players you have.

            Germany will be too hard a nut for Sweden. Canada would have been easier.

          • Frode

            Sweden produces tall, fast strikers who can win the ball in space and bury it (L8, Jakobsson, Ibrahimovic, Blackstenius). Respect.

          • Steglitz49

            Thank you.

            It is a pity for the MLS but a relief for NWSL that Zlatan did not chose the US but preferred Manchester! For a free man voluntarily to chose to live in Manchester is incomprehensible.

          • CED

            A great attacking team vs a counter team, sitting back can be exciting. Barca/Atletico and Bayern/Atletico last year in C-league were good games.

          • Steglitz49

            Poor lambs. They can’t cope with the US losing and then the conqueresses of the US reaching in the final.

          • FlyingSquirrel42

            Honestly, if people don’t like the tactic, they should lobby to change the rules and get rid of penalty kicks or make them less likely somehow. It’s not as if it’s cheating or something, any more so than when a baseball team intentionally walks a power hitter or a football quarterback spikes the ball to stop the clock.

            And I wouldn’t mind seeing an alternative to PKs, and I’m not just saying that because the U.S. lost. But the rules are the rules, and Sweden or any other team is well within its rights to maximize its chances for winning according to the rules.

          • Steglitz49

            Verily and forsooth. You play with the players you have not the one’s you would like to have.

        • Chak Khan

          If Germany falls into the same trap, Ellis’ future will definitely looks bright!

  • Steglitz49

    Where is HOFCToDi when we need him?

    Where for that matter are NYRick, Reality and the Pressoni?

    This is too boring.

    • Frode

      I’m a huge Press fan, but alas, she didn’t play in the game today.

      • Steglitz49

        Press and Hope played for Göteborg and Barabra played in Sweden and Marta plays there again. Debinha plays in Norway.

      • Peter

        You just have to argue that if Press had played beside Marta Brazil would have won. (But Jill Ellis would not allow that.)

        • Frode

          They were a pretty good duo at Tyreso

          • Steglitz49

            Most players look good alongside Marta.

        • Guest

          I dont know about that but she would have sent at least 5 more balls into orbit.

    • Guest

      We never need him.

  • Guest

    Hope solo always tells the truth

    • Steglitz49

      Oh Solo mio?

  • Anony

    I hate PKs but they aren’t a total coin toss either. Sweden is playing to what strengths they have. Pia about to go out in a blaze of glory.

    • Guest

      They are very composed I will say that.

  • Bunker and counter. Leicester taught us the way for 9 months, I guess. To be fair, I didn’t watch so I’m not sure how much countering Sweden even did. Doesn’t sound like a lot though.