If we had been told before the tournament that Netherlands vs Sweden would be one of the semi-finals at the Women’s World Cup, we might not have been too surprised. But if we were told that they would have knocked out Japan, Germany and Canada between them on the way to the semi-final, we might have started to wonder what had happened in the competition.
Of course, the Netherlands are current European Champions and Sweden did make it through to the final of the World Cup in 2003 so these two teams are not without their pedigree. But neither side was entirely impressive in the run-up to this year’s tournament.
The Netherlands relied on playoff games against Denmark and Switzerland to cement their place and, although they qualified comfortably, Sweden also slumped to disappointing defeats to both Italy and Portugal – both teams they should have beaten comfortably – within the last year.
The comparisons do not end here. Both Sweden and the Netherlands play similar iterations of a 4-3-3 which can sometimes looks much closer to a 4-2-3-1. This ambiguity is determined by the way the number 10 functions within the system. Read More