2019 FIFA Women's World Cup Preview: Old foes face off again
Kelley O'Hara going up against Olivia Schough in 2017 l Photo: Brad Smith/ISI Photos

Everyone remembers the drama after Sweden knocked the United States Women's National Team out of the 2016 Rio Olympics in the quarterfinal stage. Words were exchanged from both teams and the rivalry ensued. The USWNT and Sweden have been drawn into the same 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup groups since 2003, but this year is intensified because of the Olympics. The match is on the last day of group play, with both Group F matches happening at 3 pm EST. The USWNT and Sweden both have six points, but the USWNT holds the first place spot with a +16 goal differential compared to Sweden’s +6. Both teams are through to the Round of 16, but a win determines who has the top spot, a draw would put the USWNT in the top spot.

World Cup Form

The USWNT beat Thailand by a score of 13-0 and Chile 3-0. Sweden beat Thailand 5-1 and Chile 2-0.

Nobody doubts the USWNT can score goals, but their defense has yet to be tested. The USWNT defense did have a slip up against Chile where goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher came out strong for a ball and completely missed it. Chile scored on an open net, but the goal was called back because of offsides. The USWNT is very vulnerable on the counter because the defense plays so high, often getting in the attack. The keys for the United States will be to stay calm and to use all of their attacking options. The USWNT has the ability to play through the midfield, out wide on the flanks, and over the top. Using all of the options and not getting frustrated when one option does not work will help to tire out the Swedish. The US are the favorites, but it this is their toughest test of the World Cup. Creative players like Tobin Heath and Rose Lavelle will be huge in finding ways around the Swedish defense.

The battle between the two sides are always tightly contested | Source: Michael Chow-USA Today Sports
The battle between the two sides are always tightly contested | Source: Michael Chow-USA Today Sports

Madelen Janogy is only 23 and has proved vital to Sweden so far this tournament. In Sweden’s 2-0 win over Chile Janogy came on as a substitute and created play that lead to the first goal. Janogy is calm on the ball and takes on defenders with ease. Janogy goes on to score in that match deep in stoppage time by taking on four defenders before burying the ball upper 90. Janogy could be a huge player despite earning her first cap in January, she has two goals in five caps. Perhaps the concerning part for Sweden, just like for the USWNT is the defense. Sweden was caught sleeping in the match against Thailand which allowed Thailand to score their first World Cup goal. Thailand’s goal did not hurt Sweden in the big picture, but one mistake against the USWNT could cost Sweden the game.

After group play is over

Whoever wins the group will go on to play Spain in the Round of 16. The runner up of Group F will go on to play the runner up of Group E which could be Canada or the Netherlands, depending on who wins their head to head match up also on Thursday.