Colombia have a daunting challenge on their hands as they make their world finals debut in Group C of the FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011™. Waiting for them are Sweden, one of the established powers in the women’s game and an ever-present at the finals since their inception in 1991.
Colombia-Sweden, Tuesday 28 June, Leverkusen, 15.00 (local time).
Colombia might look like underdogs on paper, but as a glance at both sides’ recent records shows, this game could be much tighter than expected. Runners-up in the South American Women’s Championship last November, Las Cafeteras are on an upward curve, having surprised everyone by reaching the semi-finals of the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup Germany 2010. That pioneering run featured a 2-0 defeat of the Swedes in the quarter-finals, and nine members of the squad who impressed 12 month ago are on duty here.
Adding to the pressure on the Scandinavians is the fact that they have lost some of their lustre in recent years. Eliminated in the group phase at China 2007, the Swedes have also been in inconsistent form in their warm-up games, beating Canada and Mexico by narrow margins, but drawing with Japan and losing to England.
Four out of five - Sweden have reached the quarter-finals at four of the last five FIFA Women’s World Cups, missing out only at China 2007. Can they battle their way out of a tough section and reach the last eight again at Germany 2011?
“We’ve been drawn in a very tough group, against three of the best teams in the world. Even so, I think we have come on a lot and are establishing ourselves at world level. The players are ready and there’s no doubt in my mind that they’ll do the country proud,” Colombia coach Ricardo Rozo.
“Of all the teams in the group Colombia is the one I know least about, though my guess is they’ll be very technical and will play at a slower pace than we’re used to. Taking them on won’t be easy and I’m sure they’ll be very tough opponents,” Sweden goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl.