- Sweden endured mixed group stage experience
- Knockout tie against Canada where "it starts for real."
- Build-up and more: follow #SWECAN Live Blog
By Alexandra Jonson with Sweden
When the Swedish line-up was revealed ahead of the final Group F game with USA, it left many surprised. Peter Gerhardsson had made seven changes from the previous match, leaving key players out and adding four FIFA Women's World Cup™ debutantes in the XI. Ahead of the match he had already decided to bring captain Caroline Seger off as a relatively early first substitution. These were decisions that had been made with Gerhardsson already looking ahead to the round of 16.
But it also meant that coming to the knock-out phases Sweden still have yet to really enter the tournament. They were never truly tested against Chile and Thailand. The match against USA was set to be Sweden’s first major examination, but it now remains to be seen if it was a gamble from Gerhardsson to not give his key players a genuine test before the knock-out phases, or if it was a genius move, to save them.
The match against Canada will be all or nothing for the Swedes. Progress and they are on the road to a magical Women's World Cup summer, but a defeat and they will be going home disappointed.
“This is what you train for. It’s win or your out. It’s now it really really matters," Nathalie Bjorn, who made her debut against USA, told FIFA.
Despite the changes, Sweden did stand up well against the Stars and the Stripes and, according to Nilla Fischer - who was one of the rested players - it gave them the right preparation for the next step.
“We played a really good match, they won but they weren’t dominating," Fischer said. "So it’s a performance we will look at and take notes from. I definitely think the US and Canada are similar teams, they are both physical, strong in the box, tough and go all out”
It also showed the depth in the Swedish squad, to be able to do that amount of rotating but still stand up against one of the strongest teams of the competition, and there is a lot of confidence going forward.
“With the depth we have in the squad and the good feeling in the group I absolutely feel that we have the chance to go very far” said Jonna Andersson who also made her global finals debut in Le Havre.
With a strong mix of veterans and debutantes, the Swedes know how to prepare for the latter stage of the tournament.
“Some have never been in this situation before, while many have played several tournaments," Elin Rubensson said. "So we are helping each other, sharing experiences from earlier tournaments. It’s now that it starts for real."
But they don’t only have the support from each other but also a strong backing from home. It was seen in Le Havre where the Blagult made themselves heard. In Paris, another 2,000 tickets have been sold to Swedish fans.
“It’s super important, it was incredible against the USA," Rubensson said. "We definitely won the match in the stands and it means so much to us. It really helps out on the pitch and I hope we'll see even more fans here."
The Women's World Cup starts now for Sweden. Or it could end before it's even started. That will all be decided at the Parc des Princes.
Fans interested in attending the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019 can still purchase tickets for the tournament via www.fifa.com/tickets, as well as via ticket booths located at stadia for remaining matches still available to the general public.