An all-European quarter-final between two FIFA Women’s World Cup™ semi-finalists should provide a fitting finale to Hampden Park’s involvement in London 2012.
The famous old Glasgow arena has enjoyed a fruitful partnership with the women’s event thus far, with just four matches producing an impressive haul of 16 goals. And while seven of those have come from France, leaving Bruno Bini’s side understandably confident in their Scottish surroundings, they face a Sweden side buoyed by having topped one of the competition’s toughest sections.
Sweden-France, Hampden Park, Glasgow, Friday 1 August, 12.00 (local time)
Though both boast plenty of world-class players, these sides also share a desire to shed a common reputation as the female game’s ‘nearly women’. After all, while they have been almost ever-present at major tournaments, and often seen in the latter stages, neither has proved capable in recent years of wresting the biggest prizes from USA, Germany and, most recently, Japan.
And while both came into London 2012 in fine form and qualified for the last eight with a degree of comfort, each has areas for improvement. Sweden, for example, were sluggish and lucky to escape with a point from their 2-2 draw against Canada, and will need to rediscover the form they showed in dominating large chunks of their goalless encounter with Japan.
France, meanwhile, have been set a simple task by their coach: follow one good 45 minutes with another. In all three of their matches thus far, Les Bleues have been excellent in one half of football and ordinary at best in the other. It was this inability to maintain standards that cost them against USA in their opening match, and Bini is well aware that only 90 minutes of first-rate football will be enough to see off the Swedes.
12 – Lyon, winners of the UEFA Women’s Champions League in each of the last two seasons, will have 12 of their players available for selection at Hampden tomorrow. And while 11 of those will be in the colours of France, Les Gones’ solitary Swede is Lotta Schelin, the player widely considered the greatest danger to Bini’s Bleues.
"There's a good mood in the group and we're all feeling well and feeling confident. The match against Canada was disappointing, but we played really well against Japan and I know if this team plays well we can go really far in this tournament,"
Sofia Jakobsson, Sweden midfielder.
"We watched the Swedes' match (against Canada) and there are many players in our team who took a lot away from that. But to do well we need to improve on everything. Many of us have won the Champions League with Lyon, but we haven't won the Olympics yet. That is our goal," Wendie Renard, France defender.