2019 FIFA Women's World Cup Preview: Sweden
Source: svenskfotboll.se

2019 FIFA Women's World Cup Preview: Sweden

The Swedes look to put a disappointing UEFA Women's Euro by aiming for the World Cup final.

dzukai07
Kudzi Musarurwa

After a disappointing UEFA Women's Euro two years ago, Sweden changed head coaches and looked to Peter Gerhardsson to lead the team to a major title. The 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup will be Gerhardsson's first major tournament and many will be looking for Sweden to do better this summer than they did at Euro 2017.

Sweden have been placed in Group F with rivals the United States of America, Chile and Thailand. Expected to qualify from the group stages, Sweden's hopes will be to go deep in the tournament and quite possibly, win their first ever World Cup.

The backline is Sweden's biggest strength

Hedvig Lindahl and Nilla Fischer are key to Sweden's defense | Source: Bildbyrån
Hedvig Lindahl and Nilla Fischer are key to Sweden's defense | Source: Bildbyrån

They say that "defense wins championships" and Sweden will certainly be hoping that's the case. Of the teams at the World Cup, Sweden has one of the more assured backlines in the tournament. Despite not having a club at the moment, Hedvig Lindahl is one of the better goalkeepers in the game today. Her performances from both club and country make her a vital asset for Sweden and she will be looking to help her country make it to the final this summer.

Shielding Lindahl will be Nilla Fischer. The veteran defender has been one of the best defenders in the world for years and despite her years, she still remains one of the most tactically aware players in the world. Fischer will be who the backline will look to as they navigate the group matches and especially against the USWNT, Fischer's threat at set pieces will be key. Speaking of set pieces, fullback Magdalena Eriksson will be looking to put on a show this summer. Her ability and technique is a joy to watch and when she is in full flight down the flank, there are not many better than her on the ball.

The Schelin-shaped hole in the team has yet to be filled

Sofia Jakobsson needs to rediscover her form | Source: svt.se
Sofia Jakobsson needs to rediscover her form | Source: svt.se

Lotta Schelin retired from the game in 2018 and Sweden have yet to find a player who can consistently perform up top like Schelin did for many years. Sofia Jakobsson and Stina Blackstenius were supposed to have developed and matured enough to be able to replace the goals that Schelin had provided but both players have had torrid club seasons. Both Jakobsson and Blackstenius were playing for Montpellier HSC who disappointed in the Division 1 Féminine and although Blackstenius has moved on to Linköpings FC, that lack of form from both players has carried over onto the national team.

If Jakobsson and Blackstenius cannot be the attacking threat that Sweden need, Peter Gerhardsson could turn to Fridolina Rolfö or Olivia Schough but neither player has really set the world alight on the international stage. Sweden are in a conundrum at the moment where unlike most teams at the World Cup, their backline is strong but their attack is faltering at the moment. They will probably qualify from Group F but to get further in the competition, the likes of Jakobsson and Blackstenius need to step up and step up quickly.

Roster

Goalkeepers: Hedvig Lindahl, Jennifer Falk, Zećira Mušović.

Defenders: Jonna Andersson, Linda Sembrant, Hanna Glas, Nilla Fischer, Magdalena Eriksson, Amanda Ilestedt, Nathalie Björn.

Midfielders: Lina Hurtig, Kosovare Asllani, Julia Roddar, Caroline Seger, Anna Anvegård, Elin Rubensson.

Forwards: Madelen Janogy, Sofia Jakobsson, Stina Blackstenius, Julia Zigiotti Olme, Fridolina Rolfö, Mimmi Larsson, Olivia Schough.

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