One of the finest teams in the world, Sweden have qualified for every Women’s Olympic Football Tournament to date, though they have yet to win a medal. The Scandinavians have invariably impressed on the FIFA Women’s World Cup™ stage, reaching the Final at USA 2003, where they lost out to a golden goal against Germany, who again accounted for Swedish hopes at Canada 2015, this time in the last 16. The Swedes’ best Olympic performance so far came at Athens 2004, where they reached the semi-finals, one round further than they managed at Beijing 2008 and London 2012 and a considerable improvement on their first two Olympic appearances, at Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000, where they went out in the group phase.
The road to Rio
After reaching London 2012 in some style, courtesy of their stirring run to the semi-finals at the FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011, Sweden were this time forced to qualify via a four-way play-off for the third and final European place at Rio 2016. The first two slots were claimed by Germany and France, who reached the semi-finals and quarter-finals respectively at Canada 2015, where England achieved the highest placing by a European team. Given that the English will not be taking part in the women’s tournament in Rio, however, that meant there was one place left open for the four European sides who went out in the Round of 16 in Canada, namely Norway, Switzerland , Netherlands and Sweden. In the mini tournament held to decide which of the quartet would advance to Brazil, the Swedes beat Norway and Switzerland 1-0 before securing a draw with the Dutch to book their passage.
Voted FIFA Women’s World Coach of the Year in 2012, Pia Sundhage has enjoyed a hugely successful career, winning three Algarve Cups and two Olympic gold medals during her spell in charge of USA. She also steered the Stars and Stripes to the Final of Germany 2011, where they went down to Japan on penalties. After replacing Thomas Dennerby in the Sweden hotseat in December 2012, Sundhage took her new charges to the semi-finals of UEFA Women’s EURO 2013, held in Sweden, where they went down to a solitary goal to eventual champions Germany.
Lotta Schelin, Nilla Fischer, Caroline Seger.
6 - Also present at Atlanta 1996, Sydney 2000, Athens 2004, Beijing 2008 and London 2012, Sweden will be making their sixth Olympic appearance at Rio 2016.