Group stage matches are rounding up in the ongoing 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. While many teams are already aware of their elimination and are looking to achieve a form of respectability in their last matches, some others know their fate is in other hands, as they will need to perform solidly in their final group stage matches and hope that the other teams do them a favour. One of such matches is going down at the Waikato Stadium in New Zealand, where Sweden will be facing Argentina in what is sure to be an interesting encounter.
Sweden, who have already secured a spot in the knockout rounds, will be looking to make it three wins out of three and take the top spot in Group G when they face Argentina in Hamilton. Argentina know how good Sweden is, but the need for a win should overshadow whatever fear they have in their minds in playing the third-best team in the world.
After conceding early in the second half against South Africa, Sweden managed to eke out a win at the death, scoring through Fridolina Rolfo in the sixty-fifth minute and Ilestedt powering in a header from a corner just before the full-time whistle. Five-foot ten-inch Ilestedt continued her set-piece scoring form against Italy, scoring two headers in a comfortable five-nil win. Everyone knows how dangerous Sweden can be from set-pieces, as four of their seven goals at the World Cup have been scored from set-pieces, and will be looking to find a way to prevent them from scoring in this manner going forward.
Argentina played to Lady Luck in their first match, only losing to a well-taken Italian header in the eighty-seventh minute. Their second match against South Africa looked to be heading for the same result after conceding twice until goals from Sophia Braun and Romina Nunez in the last twenty minutes earned them a precious point. They will be looking to earn their first World Cup win against Sweden and, hopefully, qualify for the knockout rounds for the first time ever. Even with the good number of shock wins so far in the tournament, not many people will bet on Argentina beating Sweden. Nevertheless, there is always a chance for surprises, so the match will be a good one to watch.
Sweden are surely favorites heading into this fixture, but if Peter Gerhardsson sees a need to rotate his squad to keep his main charges fresh for the knockout rounds, then Argentina might just have a chance at sneaking a win.
See you in the knockout rounds!