The business end of this gruelling Women’s World Cup 2019 is upon us, with the quarter-finals up next. Germany vs Sweden sees two European heavyweights meet at Roazhon Park on Saturday to decide who will face Italy or Netherlands in the semi-final.
While both teams have looked good in possession and scored a lot of goals, it’s the Germans who look unbeatable at the back, having yet to concede a goal in this tournament. The Swedes have been good, but have shipped three thus far.
Hence this tie could boil down to how Sweden’s attackers break down a resilient German defence. If they fail in that, then Germany would have a very good chance as they haven’t failed to score in a single game yet.
Germans have been effectively good
The two-time champions have a good mixture of youth and experience in their squad this time around. They have played some attractive football and look like a team to beat.
Die Nationalelf were dominant in the first group game against China and deserved the victory through Giulia Gwinn’s goal. They had to be defensively strong against Spain to grind out another 1-0 win, with star player Sara Dabritz scoring. The Germans then comprehensively defeated South Africa in the final group game (4-0) and managed to do the same in the last-16 tie against Nigeria (3-0).
Having yet to concede a goal in this tournament, the centre-back duo of Marina Hegering and Sara Doorsoun deserve a lot of credit. Coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg has made changes in fullback positions, but Gwinn seems settled at right-back and experienced Verena Shweers would do well on the other side.
Sara Dabritz has scored three goals so far and controlled things in midfield. Her place at the summit of the Twelve leader board for the team is fully merited. Striker Alexandra Popp has bagged a couple of goals, including the opener against Nigeria. She would be expected to score on Saturday, if the Germans are to win.
Swedes have made good progress
Sweden have always been a good team in the women’s game and have shown that in this tournament. They won their opening two group matches against China and Thailand, before losing a close one against the favourites, USA.
Star attacking midfielder Kosovare Asllani has been good, scoring two goals and supplying an important assist against Canada in the round of 16. She deserves to lead the Twelve rankings for the Swedes, followed by Caroline Seger, who has pulled the strings in midfield.
Experienced centre-back Linda Sembrant has been dominant at the back, while goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl was the star in the last round after saving a penalty from Canada’s Janine Beckie.
Fridolina Rolfo’s pace in wide areas could be pivotal in the game against Germany, where apart from guile and precision, runners in behind the back-line will be crucial.
On paper and on the evidence of what has happened thus far, Germany are favourites to beat Sweden and go through to another semi-final at the Women’s World Cup. However, the Swedes are expected to give it their all to make it ultra difficult for the Germans.
So we can expect an enticing encounter. It remains to be seen whether Die Nationalelf will remain unbeaten at the back in this tournament.