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2020 Tokyo Olympics

Creative and attack-minded: How years of evolution redefined Sweden’s style

Brad Smith/ISI Photos

With four wins from four, including a commanding first matchday victory over the United States, Sweden is the team to beat at the Tokyo Olympics. Nearly four years into the Peter Gerhardsson era, Sweden’s success this summer is no happy accident, but something the team has been working towards since he first took over.

Sweden has been one of the European elites of the sport, with a strong production line of talent in keeping the women’s national team in the conversation since its inception in the 1970s. Going through the normal ups and downs of a national team, Blågult rarely fail to make it to the last four of European Championships (they have made eight of 10) and are four for eight at World Cups. An ever-present at the Olympics, 2016 was the first time the Scandinavian nation found itself in the final, the rigors of the prestigious tournament usually having proved too much for them.

Sweden’s passage to the silver medal in Rio started with disappointment in London four years prior; their quarterfinal loss to France prompted then manager, Thomas Dennerby, to step down. Pia Sundhage had just won the 2012 Olympics with the United States, and looking for a new challenge, the stars seemed to align for her and the Swedish FA, with the coach being announced to her new role as the United States’ 2012 victory tour got underway.

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