Two times at the Alga-Cup. A friendly last year. The EC semis 2013. (3wins Germany – 1win Sweden) These teams met nearly as frequently as domestic league clubs. And know each other inside out. And it is only adding to the fact that the players also are playing together or against each other with their clubs.
Nevertheless it seems their tactical repertoire will hardly be flexible enough to take any decisive advantage from it. Both elder states woman coaches seem to rely on what helped them in their successful past rather than looking to impress with fresh ideas
In this tournament Sweden just battled their way through the “group of death” with 3 very different draws. Germanys only relevant game with Norway ended also in a unconvincing draw. Plenty of space for improvements for both teams. They have to and they certainly will.
What to expect
Maybe not too much. You might have your expectations. And there are certain probabilities the game should go a certain way or the other.
Will the teams very much cancel each other out in a quite similar way like the Sweden – USA group game? Will Germany start with an extra effort in the first 15 mins as they did against Ivory Coast and Norway?
Will Sweden with the absence of a fully match-fit Asllani continue to finding it different to properly connect midfield and front line? If she is unable to play Sweden might even more need their other key players Fischer to keep the defense together, Seger to control the tempo of the game as far as possible in midfield and Jakobsson and Schelin to make things happen up front. If Rubensson (or any of the others) puts such a strong performance together as she did against the US that might help.
From this point of view Germany is just the opposite. You never know who comes up as the big player(s) in a game and this is permanently changing from game to game due to their more or less random style of play. Even the whole team can switch the performance from hot to cold or vice versa within half time (or after a 2:0 lead). You just never know what happens next. Deal with it, Sweden. It is often the individual class of one of their players in a key moment which lets them take the decisive strike to win by using the faults of their opponents rather than creating something of their own. The finals goal at EC 2013 was the exception from the rule and a rare goal from a nice team play effort. Dont give chances away easily as Japan did 2011 and Norway 2013 and Germany are likely to get their problems.
But the real proceedings on the pitch often take their completely unexpected twists and turns. As we saw at the Alga Cup where Sweden started sleepily and was soon down 0:2 only to make a stunning comeback for a 4:2 victory.
So better be prepared to take it as it comes. Whatever comes.
It is not relevant at all whether we have Germany a 51:49 or a 60:40 favorite. Only the result at the final whistle will become the measure to decide who will have to say good bye to Canada 2015 and (probably) Rio 2016
Keys to success
1. Who plays with the greater awareness and the greater desire.
As this is a key point obviously for every single football match you nevertheless might make it an extra point here. And it is Sweden who have to better their opponents in this compartment given the German advantage if it comes to the comparison of each single player. But both teams unexpectedly – given the experience of their players – showed very different hot and cold faces where you expected them to be amongst the most settled teams. Sometimes a sign of a little bit of fatigue. Maybe the long season took its toll? Maybe some injuries are more of a handicap than it seems? Both have to minimize their errors for the whole game in a better way than they did so far. Sweden showed it against the US defensively. But the german offense is usually set up to make errors from the opponents count. Can Sweden hold them off? If there will be errors as against Nigeria and Australia mainly in defending long balls towards their goal while not standing in a solid formation together they are likely to be punished.
2. Will Sweden be able to exploit weaknesses in the german defense.
There have been hints even against Ivory Coast and Thailand where Germanys center backs got more problems than they would have liked to when they faced speedy opponents in a 1 on 1 situation. Both center backs and the goalie as well have not been free from errors there. And and it is expected from many people that this might be the German achilles heel. Question is whether the German midfield will be set up with the right mix of players to not allow their opponents the time and space to exploit that. Lately Leupolz has developed into a very valuable player to prevent those gaps from opening in the German midfield.
3. Who is taking the lead.
You might think whoever is scoring the first goal is very likely going to win the whole thing. When Germany will get the lead it is not very likely that the swedish team is able to combine well enough to get through the German defense. Swedens chances to score are significantly going down the more they lack space to take advantage of the speed of Jakobsson and Schelin. On the other side depending on who plays up front Germany is with better chances even in situations where the Swedes are defending in numbers around the box. More than Sweden nearly all of the German players have their decent individual skills to get a goal out of a slight problem in the opposite defense whereas this number of players is significantly smaller in the swedish lineup.
From Lotta Schelins point of view it is time now for her to shine and show more of her skills on this WC than she has done so far. Normally you would expect easy going for Sundhage to motivate her to be at least a role model in desire and motivation for her team. Because when she is not and Sweden goes out, people might start to realize that her best time might be over very soon which is of course as well based on the fact that she was of very little impact for her Lyon team over the last two years on several occasions when they lost out in the Champions League matches against Wolfsburg, Potsdam (2x) and PSG (2x). Jakobsson always showed the higher work-rate. If Schelin now also trails Jakobsson even by goals you might call that outclassed by a lesser known team mate. High noon for Lotta.
Maroszan might be another key. Probably the most skilful and dangerous German player to create a goal by herself out of nothing either by some kind of dummy or by a superb shot. But you never know. Often you wait an eternity for something to happen but she fails completely to deliver anything apart from a weakened own defense. No coach so far has been very successful in turning her skills into a constant factor for her team. Also today she might well be out of the starting lineup for that very reason.