Brazil vs Sweden Preview: Hosts face persistent Swedes for a place in the final

After knocking out the world champions in the last round, Pia Sundhage's side will now set their sights on the scalp of the home nation.

Brazil vs Sweden Preview: Hosts face persistent Swedes for a place in the final
(Photo: Jonny Walsh/ VAVEL UK)

As we head into the final few days of the women's football tournament at Rio 2016, we find ourselves at the semi-final stage with four teams to find out tomorrow whether they will fight for gold or bronze on Friday night.

Brazil will be desperate to not only scrap for the biggest prize, but to clinch it in front of their home fans - but first, they must defeat Sweden.

Swedes stick at it

The home nation have struck fear into most of their opponents so far at Rio 2016, due to the roaring support behind them that intimidates any challenger.

However, Sweden will not be phased by this meeting with Brazil, having downed world champions the USA in the quarter-finals.

It was a victory that took some grafting, with them recovering from losing their 1-0 lead and having a perfectly fine goal disallowed before the tie went to penalties.

There, they looked set to win after Alex Morgan took the USA's first penalty and Hedvig Lindahl saved it. Yet, Linda Sembrant's inability to convert Sweden's third meant things were level again.

Persistence is the name of the game for this team though, and their hard-work has earned them some deserved luck. Christen Press missed the fifth American spot-kick, and Lisa Dahlkvist scored to send Sweden through.

Their run so far is reminiscent of Portugal's route to the Euro 2016 title earlier this summer in fact, with them just about squeezing over each hurdle and doing what they need to win.

Can they go on to emulate Cristiano Ronaldo and co by winning the whole thing?

Sweden have just about done enough at each stage so far... Can they do that again tomorrow? (Photo: Rio 2016)
Sweden have just about done enough at each stage so far. Can they do that again tomorrow? (Photo: Rio 2016)

Home nation inspired on and off the pitch

If that is the analogy we're using, then Brazil are Didier Deschamps' France - the hosts, the favourites, the team to beat.

They are being motivated and pushed on by a vocal home crowd, and led by an incredible front line. They even faced Sweden in the group stages and emerged 5-1 winners, in their best attacking performance so far.

Since then though, Marta and her team have failed to score a goal. They finished the group stages with a goalless draw, then went all the way to penalties against Australia in the last round after it was 0-0 after 120 minutes.

However, they, like Sweden, scraped through and will certainly be confident of a win in this tie given the result from just nine days ago.

Can Marta lift her team after a couple of stale displays? (Photo: Buda Mendes/Getty Images)
Can Marta lift her team after a couple of stale displays? (Photo: Buda Mendes/Getty Images)

How much can change in nine years?

Pia Sundhage's side have had time to reflect since their defeat, and have seen from China and the Aussies that Brazil can be thwarted.

They will take notes from them, and take heart from their draw with the States which saw them defend well against a star-studded front line, even if they did leak a goal.

The psychological factors will be key though, after that 5-1 result.

Brazil will be confident, but could they be complacent?

Sweden could be pessimistic, or will they simply be motivated?

With so many factors affecting this game - both physical and mental aspects - this semi-final promises to be one of the most engrossing games of the tournament as it unfolds tomorrow night.