Any match featuring the United States is sure to make for an interesting watch, especially when it is on the grand World Cup stage, as they have won the tournament a record four times and are on track to win their third consecutive title and fifth overall. However, as the top female team in the world, they will be playing against Sweden, who are the third-best team in the world at the moment. Nevertheless, both teams will be looking to bring the trophy home, although they will need to win this match first.
While both teams comfortably qualified for the knockout stages (Sweden were more comfortable) both teams have had rather contrasting starts to the tournament. Sweden started a bit weakly, leaving it late to win against South Africa on the first matchday, after conceding minutes after halftime. This spurred them on, and they made light work of Italy in a routine 5-nil win to qualify for the knockout round with a game to spare. Head coach Peter Gerhardsson decided to make nine changes to the winning team from the previous two matches and was rewarded with a 2-nil win over Argentina, who finished bottom of Group G.
The United States, on the other hand, started strongly with a routine win over Vietnam, who conceded twelve goals and scored none in their group-stage matches. The Stars and Stripes then played with less steam against the Netherlands, drawing the match, as a result, courtesy of a seventeenth-minute Jill Roord goal and a second-half Lindsey Horan equalizer. With Portugal beating Vietnam in the other match, the US knew that nothing short of a draw would give them a place in the knockout rounds. However, they failed to live up to expectations again in the match against Portugal in terms of performance, playing a limp goalless draw. In fact, had Ana Capeta bulged the net with her ninetieth-minute shot instead of hitting the post, Portugal would have gone through to the next round at United States’ expense. Nevertheless, the Stars and Stripes seem to be riding their luck, as they have not lost a World Cup game in normal time and have not lost a game since 2011 when they lost to Japan on penalties in the final. It might sound bullish, but the United States do not lose, so it will be interesting to see how they fare against high-flying Sweden.
Sweden’s apparent strength from set pieces will be one to look out for, and Vlatko Andonovski will need to get her team running to give them a chance of winning their fifth World Cup and silence critics back at home. There is no better place to speak than on the pitch when criticized, and United States Women are no strangers to criticism, so we might see a resurgence in form against the Swedish. We shall see women walk the talk and learn from it for a better future for younger generations, so make sure to catch the game when you can. The review is powered by the Slay-Ballers Campaign.