Brazil (3) 0-0 (4) Sweden: Swedes advance to the semi-finals as hosts bow out on spot-kicks

Sweden’s manager Pia Sundhage was surprisingly blunt about her side’s tactics prior to the game.

The veteran head coach had proclaimed that Sweden would let Brazil deal with possession and rely on their own strong defensive organisation and use counters as their main attacking weapon; this is exactly what we got.

The game started off with an immense Brazilian pressure, where it seemed every single player on the pitch was applying pressure on the Swedish defence. Sweden were trying to take the pace out of the game, but in the first few minutes it was all Brazil.

The hosts were looking to exploit the Swedish flanks, by sending Marta down, especially the left side, and for a large part she was successful.

The Swedish full-backs couldn’t deal with the pacy feet of the Brazilians, and this led to several good crosses, but the final touch wasn’t there. Whenever Brazil tried to attack down the middle, a strong centre-back pair in Linda Sembrant and Nilla Fischer were there to deny the South Americans.

Sweden are an excellent counter attacking team, especially if the ball can find Lotta Schelin or Stina Blackstenius, but in most of the first game Schelin was preoccupied with supporting her fullbacks with cover on Marta, so a lot of the attack was on the shoulders of 20-year-old Blackstenius. Sweden’s first chance, however, came through the experienced Schelin, who chested down an excellent long pass from Fischer, but her shot was over by some margin.

Marta had another brilliant game for Brazil, but alas it wasn't enough. Source: Getty Images
Marta had another brilliant game for Brazil, but alas it wasn't enough. Source: Getty Images

After an initial good period by Brazil, Sweden got into things more, and they held Brazil away from huge chances, but this would soon be followed by another spell of dominance from Brazil. It was especially dangerous every time Marta had the ball. Up until now neither goalkeeper had been forced into a save, however Brazil's Debinha, would provide the first bit of action for Hedvig Lindahl, after she headed a Tamires cross at Lindahl, who has to stretch to save it.

The resulting corner, almost found it's was into the net, after Lisa Dahlkvist nearly touched it into her own goal. Brazil continued to put enormous pressure on Sweden, and if it wasn’t for a crunch tackle by Fischer, Brazil would have had a near open goal opportunity.

At the end of the half, Sweden started having some successful counters, and in the 39th minute Emilia Appelqvist got pass the Brazilian midfield, and found Blackstenius in behind the defence. The forward did incredibly well to turn the defender inside out, but her pass didn’t find Schelin, and she probably should have shot. In the final few minutes both Brazil and Sweden had a few chances, and Sweden even get their first corner of the game but it ended nil-nil.

The second half followed the same script as the first, but with an increasingly frustrated Brazil allowing Sweden some more room. Marta continued her domination of the Swedish defence, but even a five time Ballon d’Or winner gets tired, and she didn’t have the same impact as in the first half.

Brazil continued to see a lot of the ball, but the impact wasn’t as big as in the first half, and Sweden’s defence time and time again came up big. As the game went on Brazil fell into the trope of whipping crosses in that never found a target, and it was starting to mirror the game Sweden played against USA in the quarterfinals.

Even if Sweden were given more time on the ball they had a hard time converting it into anything substantial. They were too sloppy in their passes, and due to the nature of their defensive set-up they had to start far down into their own half, making it harder to reach the Brazilian area.

The last 10 minutes were nervy for the Scandinavians, and Brazil played their way through them on a number of occasions. Sweden withstood the pressure and holds on for a 0-0 draw. We were going to extra-time, which is the second extended period for the two teams in the span of just two games

Lisa Dahlkvist once again netted the crucial penalty for Sweden. Source: Getty Images
Lisa Dahlkvist once again netted the crucial penalty for Sweden. Source: Getty Images

It was two tired teams that went into the first extra time and it showed, but the game plan remained the same as in regular time. Sweden had a chance after Schelin won the ball back in Sweden’s own territory and played Kosovare Asllani, who carried the ball forward before she cleverly passed it back to Schelin, who scuffed her shot.

Brazil got several chances too, but just like in regular time, they couldn’t put it past a brilliant Lindahl. We were heading to penalties, which the two teams also had to endure to get to the semi-final.

Brazil had to go first, and first up was captain, Marta. She put it into the low into the left corner, and while Lindahl had her hand on it, it got in behind her. Next up was Sweden's captain, Schelin who made no mistake of her penalty and hit it into the top corner, with no chance for Barbara in the Brazilian goal. Christiane, who had been injured and was subbed in before extra-time, stepped up to take Brazil's second.

However, the all time top scorer at the Olympics was not clinical enough and Lindahl saved it. Sweden's second penalty taker was Asllani, but her penalty was saved by Barbara, and it remained 1-1 after four kicks. In the third and fourth round Seger, Andressa Alves, Rafaella and Fischer all managed to find the net, which meant it would all be decided with the final two kicks.

Here, Andressinha suffered the agony of missing hers and just had to wait and see if Dahlkvist could bury her final penalty, the same way she did against USA a few days ago. Dahlkvist calmly slotted it into the net and sent Sweden to the Olympic final against Germany, while hosts Brazil have to play for Bronze.