Women's World Cup 2015: Sweden Team Guide

Andrew Gibney@@gibney_aFeatured ColumnistMay 26, 2015

Women's World Cup 2015: Sweden Team Guide

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    Michael Probst/Associated Press

    The 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup in Canada is just 11 days away, and Sweden coach Pia Sundhage is fine-tuning her squad in preparation for their first game against Nigeria on June 8.

    Sweden are ranked fifth in the world and take on debutants Netherlands on Saturday in their final warm-up match, and Sundhage will be hoping for a positive display to take confidence into what could be a difficult group stage.

    USA start favourites to win Group D, but if Sweden are hoping to at least equal 2011's third-place finish, they know finishing second will make their task much more difficult.

The Road to Canada

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    Matthias Schrader/Associated Press

    Sweden’s journey to Canada was fairly straightforward. The Scandinavian side won all 10 of their group games and only conceded once while scoring 32 times.

    One concern for Sundhage will be how close they came to dropping points a few times, plus the fact that second-place Scotland scored five more goals than they managed in the same amount of games.

    UEFA Qualifying Group 4

    1 Sweden101000321+3130
    2 Scotland10802378+2924
    3 Poland105142014+616 
    4 Bosnia and Herzegovina10235719−129
    5 Northern Ireland10127319−165
    6 Faroe Islands10028341−382

    Top Scorers

    Lotta Schelin, 12 goals; Kosovare Asllani, 6; Lina Nilsson, 4; Caroline Seger, 3; Emma Lundh, 3


    September 21, 2013: Sweden 2-0 Poland

    Goals: Seger (52'), Schelin (66')

    October 26, 2013: Bosnia and Herzegovina 0-1 Sweden

    Goals: Schelin (34')

    October 30, 2013: Sweden 5-0 Faroe Islands

    Goals: Schelin (12' pen, 30'), Ilestedt (14'), Asllani (18'), Hjohlman (59')

    April 5, 2014: Northern Ireland 0-4 Sweden

    Goals: Asllani (8' pen), Schelin (18'), Lundh (84'), Nilsson (87')

    May 8, 2014: Sweden 3-0 Northern Ireland

    Goals: Sjogran (12'), Seger (28'), Nilsson (74')

    June 14, 2014: Scotland 1-3 Sweden

    Goals: Little (19' pen)

    Seger (13'), Asllani (27', 52')

    June 19, 2014: Faroe Islands 0-5 Sweden

    Goals: Seger (11'), Schough (19'), Schelin (35', 50'), Lundh (84')

    August 21, 2014: Poland 0-4 Sweden

    Goals: Schelin (8', 71'), Asllani (56'), Sembrant (89')

    September 13, 2014: Sweden 3-0 Bosnia and Herzegovina

    Goals: Nilsson (5'), Schelin (45+2, 73')

    September 17, 2014: Sweden 2-0 Scotland

    Goals: Sjogran (7'), Schelin (76')

Squad List

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    Michael Probst/Associated Press

    The final 23-player squad was announced on 11 May:

    0#0Pos.PlayerDate of birth (age)CapsGoalsClub
    11GKHedvig Lindahl(1983-04-29)29 April 1983 (aged 32)1070England Chelsea
    22DFCharlotte Rohlin(1980-12-02)2 December 1980 (aged 34)777Sweden Linköpings FC
    33MFLinda Sembrant(1987-05-15)15 May 1987 (aged 28)564France Montpellier HSC
    42DFEmma Berglund(1988-12-19)19 December 1988 (aged 26)350Sweden FC Rosengård
    52DFNilla Fischer(1984-08-02)2 August 1984 (aged 30)13019Germany VfL Wolfsburg
    62DFSara Thunebro(1979-04-26)26 April 1979 (aged 36)1315Sweden Eskilstuna United
    73MFLisa Dahlkvist(1987-02-06)6 February 1987 (aged 28)959Sweden KIF Örebro
    84FWLotta Schelin (c)(1984-02-27)27 February 1984 (aged 31)14979France Olympique Lyon
    94FWKosovare Asllani(1989-07-29)29 July 1989 (aged 25)7621France Paris Saint-Germain
    104FWSofia Jakobsson(1990-04-23)23 April 1990 (aged 25)5610France Montpellier HSC
    114FWJenny Hjohlman(1990-02-13)13 February 1990 (aged 25)121Sweden Umeå IK
    121GKHilda Carlén(1991-08-13)13 August 1991 (aged 23)10Sweden Piteå IF
    133MFMalin Diaz(1994-01-03)3 January 1994 (aged 21)120Sweden Eskilstuna United
    142DFAmanda Ilestedt(1993-01-17)17 January 1993 (aged 22)61Sweden FC Rosengård
    153MFTherese Sjögran(1977-04-08)8 April 1977 (aged 38)20921Sweden FC Rosengård
    162DFLina Nilsson(1987-06-17)17 June 1987 (aged 27)643Sweden FC Rosengård
    173MFCaroline Seger(1985-03-19)19 March 1985 (aged 30)13721France Paris Saint-Germain
    182DFJessica Samuelsson(1993-01-30)30 January 1993 (aged 22)210Sweden Linköpings FC
    193MFEmilia Appelqvist(1990-02-11)11 February 1990 (aged 25)40Sweden Piteå IF
    204FWEmma Lundh(1989-06-26)26 June 1989 (aged 25)112Sweden AIK Fotboll
    211GKCarola Söberg(1982-07-29)29 July 1982 (aged 32)110Sweden KIF Örebro
    223MFOlivia Schough(1991-03-11)11 March 1991 (aged 24)231Sweden Eskilstuna United
    232DFElin Rubensson(1993-05-11)11 May 1993 (aged 22)180Sweden Kopparbergs/Göteborg FC

Coach Profile: Pia Sundhage

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    Harold Cunningham/Getty Images

    Pia Sundhage is a legendary figure, not just in Swedish football. For the advancements in the global women’s game, look no further than the woman who will lead Sweden to Canada this summer.

    Group D looks very interesting with Sundhage in charge. She was previously the head coach of the United States and is credited with being the coach that helped turn them around. She improved team harmony and is a huge factor in their group rivals being a favourite to win the World Cup this summer.

    After making her international debut at just 15 years old, she went on to make 146 caps for her country and was part of the squad that finished third in the first-ever World Cup back in 1991.

    Sundhage is known for bursting into song during team meetings and press conferences—the U.S. team gave her a guitar as a leaving present. Cool, calm and collected, she has no problem changing a team’s philosophy to get the best out of them.

    It happened with the USA. Now she hopes her changes can help the Blagult go all the way this summer.

    If her outspoken personality and penchant for a song wasn’t enough to endear you to Sundhage, when the USA won gold at the 2008 Olympics, she declined an invitation to the White House as she disagreed with George W. Bush’s politics.

Star Player: Lotta Schelin

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    Martin Rose/Getty Images

    Over the last 11 years, Lotta Schelin has become the on-field symbol for Swedish football. The 31-year-old has played in no less than eight major international tournaments, and she will once again play a huge part in Canada.

    On the road to qualification, the Lyon forward scored 12 goals in 10 games, double the amount of next top scorer Kosovare Asllani. When Sweden need someone to step up, they look towards Schelin—more often than not, she responds.

    In France, she has won numerous titles and accolades over the past seven seasons, helping Lyon become a powerhouse in the domestic game.

    Schelin is tall, but quick. She is unselfish and has an air of class when in possession. The 31-year-old has a knack for being in the right place at the right time and even when you don’t expect it, she always knows where the goal is.

One to Watch: Caroline Seger

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    Nigel Roddis/Getty Images

    If Schelin is the sheriff of the Swedish national team, Paris Saint-Germain’s Caroline Seger is her deputy. Although rivals at club level, they are on the same page when they pull on that famous yellow jersey.

    Seger is that ideal mix of hard work and leadership, but influential in the final third. Sundhage's changes to the Swedish system were made in order to get the best out of the midfielder. In qualification, she scored five in nine games, and she goes into the World Cup fired up for success.

    In May, PSG qualified for the UEFA Women’s Champions League final against Frankfurt, but a questionable yellow card in the second leg against Wolfsburg ruled her out of the showpiece event—PSG lost 2-1 in injury time.

    In an interview with Le Parisien (in French) just after signing for PSG, she was quick to distance any obvious comparisons with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, suggesting that the only player she should be compared to is herself.

    Help Sweden's life in the World Cup, and it will be Ibrahimovic who is looking up to Seger.

World Cup Record

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    Matthias Schrader/Associated Press

    1991: China—Third Place

    After beating the hosts 1-0 in the quarter-finals, they lost 4-1 to Norway but claimed a third-place finish with a 4-0 win over Germany.

    1995: Sweden—Quarter-Finalists

    Four years later, China got their revenge, beating the hosts 4-3 on penalties in the quarter-finals.

    1999: USA—Quarter-Finalists

    In an all-Scandinavian quarter-final, Norway got the better of the Swedes, knocking them out with a 3-1 victory.

    2003: USA—Runners-up

    It was heartbreak in the USA for the Swedes. After beating Brazil and Canada by two goals to one, they would lose in the final to Germany by the same scoreline.

    Hanna Ljungberg gave the Swedes a lead in the first half, but they conceded straight after the break, and Nia Kunzer scored the winner in extra time.

    2007: China—Group Stage; 3rd, Group B

    Despite beating North Korea 2-1 in the final group game, Sweden were eliminated on goals scored.

    2011: Germany—Third place

    Following an impressive 3-1 victory over Australia in the quarter-finals, Sweden fell 3-1 to the eventual winners, Japan.

    They would beat France 2-1 to secure third place.

Group Fixtures

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    Francois Laplante/FreestylePhoto/Getty Images

    So much of Sweden’s World Cup hopes will come down to the meeting between them and the USA in Winnipeg.

    Finishing second in Group D would likely set up a last-16 tie with Brazil. At that stage of the competition, it would be a tough assignment for either side.

    Top spot would hand you a tie against one of the third-place finishers and likely passage to the quarter-finals.

    Sweden vs. Nigeria

    June 8, 2015, 15:00 local time

    Winnipeg Stadium, Winnipeg, Manitoba

    USA vs. Sweden

    June 12, 2015, 19:00 local time

    Winnipeg Stadium, Winnipeg, Manitoba

    Australia vs. Sweden

    June 16, 2015, 18:00 local time

    Commonwealth Stadium, Edmonton, Alberta


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