Schelin: I can make the difference

After Sweden finished third in Group D on three points at the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015™, the Scandinavians had to endure an anxious 24-hour wait to see whether they would progress to the knockout stage.

Pia Sundhage’s charges need not have worried. As they watched the last group games on TV, other results went in their favour to open a path into the Round of 16. Sweden now face Germany and met Olympique Lyonnais striker Lotta Schelin to find out how she dealt with that long wait, and how she rates her side’s chances going forward. How did you handle watching those final group games on TV?** Lotta Schelin: **It was really tense. We were all really nervous. We watched the games together in our rooms and left the doors open so we could communicate. At one point there must have been 15 or 20 of us in one room. It was stressful and exciting at the same time.

How many times did you go over the qualifying calculations? As soon as the matches got underway. We knew we had three points and kept going over the scenarios that would see us qualify.** **

Absolutely. It was wild. Watching on was one of the toughest times in our careers so we literally jumped for joy when the whistle blew at the end of the Brazil match.****

Our games against theMannschaft are hard to predict. We will be up against a determined team that will not want to leave the competition at the Round of 16 stage and will give it their all. But that is true for us too. We have been handed an unexpected second chance. There is no room for error now, so we have to go for it.****

It was wild. Watching on was one of the toughest times in our careers so we literally jumped for joy when the whistle blew at the end of the Brazil match.** **

Our aim is to defend from front to back, keep our shape and retain possession of the ball. If we manage to do that, anything is possible. We need to get them chasing the ball, and if we do, we’ll have a good chance.

Although you put in a strong defensive performance against the USA, you conceded three goals against Nigeria. How would you sum up the group stage? We weren’t good against Nigeria and none of us played at our best, so we were very glad to have secured a point. When you consider the way we played, we couldn’t hope for more. We’d prefer to forget about that match. But then we had a very good game against the USA; we kept things very tight and that obviously gave us confidence. Australia were also strong opponents. We would have preferred to score more goals, but we lacked precision in the final third of the pitch. Nevertheless, that’s something we’ve managed to do against Germany before, so we’ve got to remember that. ****

You haven’t yet managed to score at these finals, but it is often said that great players step forward in big games. Is this your moment? It’s certainly the right moment, as I want to do my best for the team. Although we’ve been strong in defence, we’ve lacked something in attack. It’s difficult when we don’t have any good build-up play in the attacking third, but hopefully we’ll manage that now. I’m definitely ready for it; I always am. I’ve done it in the past so now I’ve just got to keep working and give it my all.

Paolo Rossi failed to score a goal in the group stage of the 1982 World Cup, but his team still qualified for the next round. By the end of the tournament he was top goalscorer and had won the title. Do you think you can repeat that feat? (laughs) I don’t know. I don’t think about things like that. We’re a team and we’ve got to achieve things together. Of course, it’s great when I score a goal, as I obviously want to make the difference. Hopefully we can progress and if we can do that, then why shouldn’t we emulate that success? But if we win this match, we’ll have to face more extremely strong opponents.