Sweden’s coach, Peter Gerhardsson, believes his squad’s vast experience of the Women’s Super League means England will hold few surprises in Tuesday’s Euro 2022 semi-final.
The world’s second-ranked team booked their place at Bramall Lane courtesy of a stoppage-time victory over Belgium on Friday. Six of their squad play in the English top flight – Magdalena Eriksson at Chelsea, Stina Blackstenius at Arsenal, Filippa Angeldal at Manchester City, Emma Kullberg at Brighton plus the Everton duo of Nathalie Bjorn and Hanna Bennison – and Gerhardsson said their knowhow would be invaluable against the host nation.
“I think we are very difficult to beat physically,” said the coach of a team who have not tasted defeat since losing the Olympic final on penalties to Canada last August. “We also have some players in our squad who play in England at club level so they know what it’s about. That experience is going to be very important. They know what they are going to meet because they play them regularly in the league. For me, that experience will be very important.
“We are a hard-working team and tactical, and then we have players with good individual skills. What is most important is not the coaches but those individual qualities. We have some very good players. We have shackled them in the past and they have shackled us. We will see what we come up with.”
Sweden beat England 2-1 in the World Cup third place play-off in 2019, prompting the then England coach, Phil Neville, to describe the bronze medal contest as “a nonsense game”. Gerhardsson has not forgotten the comment. He said: “It’s going to be completely different this time. You could see the joy England showed after beating Spain. They were delighted. I thought at the time it was a weird thing to say – of course you can say that if you lose – but there is no bronze game now.”
England have two extra days to prepare for the semi-final while Sweden, who were without the full-backs Hanna Glas and Jonna Andersson against Belgium as a result of positive Covid tests, face an anxious wait to discover whether Kosovare Asllani will be fit. The influential forward delivered the corner that ultimately produced Linda Sembrant’s winner two minutes into added time in their quarter-final but limped off after the final whistle having taken several knocks.
Gerhardsson added: “It is always a tactical game. You have to think in that tactical way: what can we do to stop them playing well, what is our best opportunity to beat them? We have only a short time to discuss it but when it comes to playing England you know it is a good technical squad with very good experience. We are going to have a plan. I don’t know what it is right now but I can assure you we will have a plan, a very good plan, and maybe we’ll need an extremely good plan.”
July 23, 2022 at 10:34PM Andy Hunter