France and Sweden were the unlucky teams to fall at the semi-final stage of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2011™, but the pair still have one last chance to go out on a high with Saturday’s match for third place. The battle for bronze also has something of a pre-Olympics flavour to it, as both sides have qualified for London 2012 through their fine efforts in Germany.
Both sides will be playing for pride in a fixture that may well be repeated at next summer’s Women’s Olympic Football Tournament. Sweden had a faultless run to the semi-finals, winning all of their group matches and even defeating finalists USA along the way. They were the only team to win their quarter-final without the need for extra time, beating Australia 3-1, but their march to the final was brought to a halt with a 3-1 loss to Japan in the semis. Sweden lost Caroline Seger to a calf injury just before the match, and she will miss the third-place showdown with France. Seger’s team-mates will no doubt be keen to show their captain and the watching world that they deserve a place on the podium.
While Sweden have already reached a FIFA Women’s World Cup final, in 2003, and finished third, in 1991, France have never made it this far in the competition. Les Bleues had a more complicated campaign than their Scandinavian opponents, but they can have every reason to be proud of their showing. Indeed, Bruno Bini’s side gave defending champions Germany a real scare before losing 4-2, and made finalists USA sweat for their 3-1 win in the semi-finals. A third-place finish would firmly cement France’s new-found status on the world scene.
2 - Saturday’s game will be the second time in the history of the FIFA Women’s World Cup that the match for third place has been fought out between two European teams. The last time it happened was back in 1991 at the first ever finals in China, when Germany lost 4-0 to none other than Sweden.
“We managed to keep possession and impose our game on the Americans, so we’re very disappointed that we didn’t make it to the final. But we’re going to fight for third place. There’s one match left, and we’re going to win it,” France goalkeeper Berangere Sapowicz.
“We want to do be able to do our dance again after the final whistle, to celebrate being the third-best team in the world. Like everyone else in the team, I want to win this match,” Sweden defender Charlotte Rohlin.