FIFA Women's World Cup 70 Day Countdown: Day 14 - Sweden Snapshot

As we enter day 13 of Edge of the Crowd's electrifying 70-day countdown to the highly anticipated 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup, we're diving headfirst into a whirlwind tour of the fierce and fabulous teams gracing this year's tournament.

Join us on this journey as we dish out the inside scoop on each squad's strengths, weaknesses, players to keep an eye on and what a pass mark might be for each nation.

Sweden has a golden generation of players; can Peter Gerhardsson make the most of it?

World Cup appearances: 8 (1991, 1995, 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015, 2019)

Best Performance in a World Cup: Runners-Up (2003)

Players to watch

Sweden is star-studded. The third-ranked team has some of the best players at the world's most demanding clubs.

In Fridolina Rolfo they have tricky, and deadly winger who has been excellent for Barcelona since joining the Spanish Giants in 2021. She has scored eight times this season in the Primera Division and three times in the Champions League, and done so in style.

Sweden can also rely on Sofia Jakobsson in attack. The attacker moved from Real Madrid to the San Diego Waves for their debut season and was part of the team that made it all the way to the domestic final. With Jakobsson on one wing and Rolfo on the other, any side that meets Sweden will need to get players behind the ball and sacrifice attack to stop both players.

Stina Blackstenius could start in the centre of attack as she does for Arsenal. She is a hard-working and fast-paced forward who can hold up the ball or race onto it behind the defence. In defence, Magda Eriksson has been crucial to Chelsea’s recent dominance and will give Sweden the foundation they need for their attacking riches to express themselves.

2023 form

Sweden’s most recent games have brought mixed results. A 4-1 win over China was to be expected. The damage was done early with three goals in the first 15 minutes, and one in the 65th minute as a response to China’s second half strike.

Since then, Sweden has played out a 0-0 draw with Germany and failed to beat Denmark, or Norway. Sweden's most recent friendly games have been a 1-0 loss and a 3-3 draw with its Scandinavian neighbours. Both are strong sides, but Sweden's aim is to win the World Cup, and need to improve on these results.

Of some concern to Swedish fans is that, unlike their 2022 loss to the Matildas, it fielded a near full-strength side in the defeat to the Danes. Sweden had the majority of the possession, but it was a game where chances were few and Denmark took its possession better.

Sweden has a strong history in the World Cup, and these warm-up games should be viewed as simply that, warm-ups. Peter Gerhardsson's team will have experimented with tactics and personnel, while ironing out any apparent issues.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Strengths: Sweden has depth in its squad, history in this competition and the talent to beat any side.

Tactically, Sweden can win in a variety of ways. The power of Stina Blackstenius is matched by the guile of Rolfo and the lightning pace of Johanna Rytting Kaneryd. Their possible best 11, might not even include AC Milan’s Kosovare Asllani or the prodigious Everton creator Hannah Bennison. No matter who takes the field, Blågult have players on the bench who can come on to change the game, or cover injury.

Sweden’s last two major tournaments were disappointing by its standard. Sweden lost to underdogs Canada in the Olympic Gold Medal match but showed that the side can grind out a result against Australia in the semi-finals.

At the Euro's, Blågult infamously printed the “instructions” of how to defeat them on their uniforms. Sweden was defeated in the semi-finals by England. In the history of the World Cup, Sweden routinely makes the knockout stages, having only failed to do so once in 2007. This is a pioneering, and proud football nation in the women’s game that remains one of the benchmarks at this level.

Weaknesses: Sweden has never won the tournament, or any major tournament since 1984 when the team was crowned European Champions. Despite their star power and depth, Blågult have vulnerabilities.

Australia is one of the sides to deliver Sweden a convincing defeat in recent times. The 4-0 win showed that Sweden can be susceptible to counter attacks. The Swede's starting wingers that day were Jakobsson and Kaneryd, both exceptional talents but who left gaps behind them for the Matildas overlapping fullbacks and wingers to exploit.

Sweden looks to have addressed these issues to some extent. The 0-0 draw with Germany showed more defensive discipline, but in a knockout game at a World Cup, gaps will appear as the game wears on. Australia and Norway has shown that these can be exploited, but you have to take your chances against those opponents, because they will create plenty of their own.

Pass mark

Sweden has the players and the experience to win this tournament. Anything less will be disappointing.

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