Sweden and the art of the middle ground

Undefeated since the start of the Women’s Football Euro, the players of the Swedish coach Peter Gerhardsson have not shown their best faces in England where the competition will take place (from July 6 to 31).

In the group stage, their game plan was first neutralized by the Netherlands (1-1). Then, against Switzerland, their victory proved difficult (2-1), before reassuring themselves by giving a lesson to Portugal (5-0).

These performances, of course, are enough to get the first place in Group C, but they are far from the usual level of the first European country in the FIFA ranking. In the quarter-finals against Belgium on July 22, Blagult (Blue and Yellow, in Swedish) once again suffered, grabbed the victory in extra time (1-0).

Tuesday, July 26, they will face England in the semi-finals. “The Swedes must break every one of the dangerous English offensivesanalyzes Lasse Mannheimer, reporter of the Swedish press agency TT Nyhetsbyran. But the English have the task of reversing the collective resilience of our players, their biggest challenge since the start of the Euros. »

Also read: Women’s Euro 2022 football: tired, Swedes pass Belgian obstacle to qualify for semi-finals

Strength, resistance or strength are the terms often used to describe a Scandinavian team, whose average age, relatively high (28.5 years), reflects experience. One player embodies it all: Caroline Seger, the veteran midfielder (37 years old) with 232 caps. “His importance on the pitch is most felt without him”, summarizes Lasse Mannheimer. Surrounded by Filippa Angeldahl and Kosovare Asllanni, Caroline Seger leads the middle trio, whose different profiles complement each other.

Offensive Injuries and Gaps

But the reason must be made. Almost seventeen years after her first national selection, Caroline Seger can no longer trust her body and her importance in the game of the Blue and Yellow must disappear, under the penalty of seeing the Swedes suffer even a little in his absence.

Coach Peter Gerhardsson realized this by watching his team’s difficulty in passing the Belgian defense, his number 17, touched by the heel, not participating in the quarter-finals. The hole left by the captain, it is his replacement in two games that best speaks about it: “Caroline is a fantastic footballerNathalie Björn was sent off at the end of the match against Belgium. I don’t think anyone can reach his level. »

Also read: Football Euro 2022: the English dream of an end and enthusiasm

Feverish, because he was unbalanced by his absence, the Swedish midfielder tried to open the game forward, but the attackers were almost unsuccessful. This figure proves it: of the nine Scandinavian achievements, only one was finished by an attacker, which was Stina Blackstenius against Portugal.

New generation and need of the trophy

Under his wind the historic juggernaut of women’s football, European champion in 1984, Olympic vice-champion in 2016 and 2021, Sweden is a team that struggles to change itself and that may suffer it in several years.

“This Tuesday, we will need all the necessary experience against Englandlaunched Robert Laul, sports journalist of Gothenburg-Posten. The biggest countries invest in their young generation faster than us and, in the future, the gap between them and us will be bigger and bigger. Maybe this tournament will be our last chance to get a trophy. »

Hanna Bennison (left) scored her first goal for Sweden against Switzerland (2-1) on July 13 in Sheffield.

With an old workforce, Peter Gerhardsson is still looking forward to the arrival of new faces, especially Hanna Bennison, midfielder who plays for Everton in the English championship. At just 19 years old, the youngest of the Swedish group already has 26 selections.

“Hanna Bennison is incredibly talented, said Lasse Mannheimer. And he could be, in the future, the future great player of Sweden. » From there to take the torch of the indefatigable Caroline Seger, and continue the traditional Swedish balance? The answer will come in the next few years.

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