First-time semi-finalists Spain face a more seasoned Sweden at the Women’s World Cup on Tuesday, with a final against England or co-hosts Australia the prize. Spain and Sweden kick off at Eden Park in Auckland in the first semi-final, before European champions England go into battle with Australia in Sydney on Wednesday.
The meeting in Auckland is a clash of styles — Spain’s superior technique and mesmerising passing versus Sweden’s more physical approach and use of dead-ball situations. Sweden are into their third semi-final in the last four World Cups and even though they have never gone on to win the competition, Peter Gerhardsson’s side believe that experience gives them the edge.
The Swedes also reached the last four of the European Championship last summer, before being soundly beaten 4-0 by hosts and eventual winners England.
In contrast, this will be Spain’s debut in a World Cup semi-final. We have the benefit of experience,” Sweden captain Kosovare Asllani said on the eve of the game at Eden Park.
“We have gone far in the last few tournaments but I am particularly pleased with the way we have done it this time. We have won our matches in different ways and it shows the strength of this team.”
Sweden, who dumped out holders the United States in the last 16 on penalties, were one of only three teams to progress from the group stage with a perfect three wins out of three.
England and Japan — beaten by Sweden 2-1 in the quarter-finals — were the others. Sweden are particularly deadly from set-pieces and in Amanda Ilestedt they have an unlikely contender for the tournament’s golden boot.
The towering Arsenal defender has four goals so far, three with her head. Gerhardsson has lauded the team spirit within his squad, saying they have the kind of togetherness usually more associated with club teams.
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