Sweden vs. Germany: 2016 Olympic Women's Soccer Gold Medal Odds, Form Guide

Rory Marsden@@roomarsdenFeatured ColumnistAugust 18, 2016

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 16:  Sweden celebrate victory in the Women's Football Semi Final between Brazil and Sweden on Day 11 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Maracana Stadium on August 16, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)
Buda Mendes/Getty Images

Sweden go into their first-ever Olympic final on Friday as big underdogs against Germany but confident in the knowledge that they have seen off defending champions the United States and hosts Brazil to get there.

They have not made it to the last two playing sparkling football, and it would be naive to think they will change their approach against Germany, the No. 2 side in the world and three-time bronze-medal winners.

Sweden will sit back, soak up the pressure and hope they can grab a goal on the counter-attack, or—as happened against the U.S. and Brazil—force a penalty shootout and win that way.

Germany are the far superior team, though, and the bookies make Silvia Neid's side heavy favourites to claim the gold medal:

Sweden vs. Germany: Gold Medal Odds

Sweden have got through to the final by the skin of their teeth, receiving criticism along the way for their negative style of play—not least from U.S. women's national team goalkeeper Hope Solo, who labelled Pia Sundhage's side a "bunch of cowards" who "didn't want to open the game," per BBC Sport.

They are in the last two, though, and one more upset away from becoming just the third side in history to win a gold medal in women's Olympic football.

Indeed, no matter which side prevails at the Maracana on Friday, there will be a new winner, as the previous five tournaments have seen four gold medals go to the U.S. and one to Norway.

Form Guide: Rio 2016 Results
Semi-finalWon 2-0 vs. CanadaDrew 0-0 vs. Brazil (advanced on pens)
Quarter-finalWon 1-0 vs. China PRDrew 1-1 vs. United States (advanced on pens)
Group StageLost 2-1 vs. CanadaDrew 0-0 vs. China PR
Group StageDrew 2-2 vs. AustraliaLost 5-1 vs. Brazil
Group StageWon 6-1 vs. ZimbabweWon 1-0 vs. South Africa

Germany, despite being two-time FIFA World Cup winners, have never quite made it to the Olympics final, playing and winning the bronze-medal match in 2000, 2004 and 2008.

And they could hardly have hoped for better opponents in 2016. 

They would have been expecting to play either world champions USA or hosts Brazil, who would have had enormous backing.

The Germans must not be complacent, though, as however unattractive Sweden's football may be, it has undeniably been effective at Rio 2016.

In form, quality, historic achievement and personnel, Germany have the edge.

SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 06:  Head coach Silvia Neid of Germany looks on while taking on Australia in the Women's First Round Group F match at Arena Corinthians on August 6, 2016 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.  (Photo by Alexandre Schneider/Getty Images)
Alexandre Schneider/Getty Images

They will also be motivated by the chance to send coach Neid off with a gold medal, as the legendary 52-year-old is preparing to retire after the Olympics.

Patience will be the key in breaking down Sweden. But the Germans have a variety of different outlets through which they could bag the crucial goal.

Melanie Behringer is the top scorer in Brazil, having netted five times—including one in each of the last three games—while the brilliant Anja Mittag is always a threat in front of goal.

Sweden have shown little going forward during the tournament and came unstuck in the group stages when they were thrashed 5-1 by Brazil.

Their defence can be beaten, and Germany have the quality to breach it and win with ease.

But if Die Nationalelf become frustrated, Sweden could pull off another shock win to go alongside Portugal's UEFA Euro 2016 victory and Leicester City's Premier League triumph in 2016.