To say that Lotta Schelin is familiar with Sweden’s quarter-final opponents would be something of an understatement. No fewer than 11 of Bruno Bini’s France squad, and eight of the team that started against Canada, are players with whom she has conquered Europe in each of the last two seasons with Lyon.
Nonetheless, despite the friendships that have been forged during her four years with Les Gones, Schelin insists that there will no quarter given at Hampden once the referee’s whistle sounds.
“It will be great,” she said. “I’m so used to playing with these girls, so to play against them will be really nice. It obviously happened last year in the World Cup (in the third-place play-off, which Sweden won) but we're both in a position where we can still win this tournament, so it will be special. And although they’re my friends normally, when it comes to a big tournament like the Olympics and a game this important, you don’t care about friendships anymore. All I’ll care about is winning.”
The battle between these fellow European champions is sure to be fascinating, particularly as Schelin’s familiarity with the French team is strongest in her area of the field - where every direct opponent is a club colleague. As she explained: “I watched their last game, and the entire back four and the goalkeeper were all from Lyon, so I think it’s fair to say I’ll know them well – and they’ll know me too.
“France play in a similar way, with a lot of the same players playing in the same positions, as Lyon do, although there are some differences due to the fact the teams have different coaches. But I do feel that I know of some weaknesses, as well as some strong points, in their team and I will take that knowledge with me into the game tomorrow. They have a good defence but I need to use what I know about things they do less well.”
Sweden themselves are seen by some as having a point to prove in this match. After all, despite being consistently ranked among the top few nations in the women’s game, the Scandinavians have failed to win a major honour since the UEFA Women's European Championship of 1984. Schelin, though, disputes the assertion that she and her team-mates have underachieved.
“Of course we want to end that wait and win something again,” she said. “But I don’t feel that we’ve done nothing over the last few years. We’ve reached finals and won bronze at the Women’s World Cup last year. There are a lot of good teams in women’s football, we aren’t the only ones trying to win trophies. But I still think we can go very far in this competition and that’s definitely our aim.”