Euro 2022: Big-game nous, physicality and Barcelona star - why England must beware Sweden threat in semi-final

·2-min read
Euro 2022: Big-game nous, physicality and Barcelona star - why England must beware Sweden threat in semi-final

Sweden have flown under the radar at Euro 2022, but they are confident of making their mark against England tonight.

England fans will be dreaming of a place in Sunday’s final at Wembley, however Sweden should not be underestimated, and this clash could be just as tense and tight as the quarter-final against Spain.

When it comes to major tournaments, Sweden have a knack of delivering. At last year’s Tokyo Olympics, they won the silver medal, and at the World Cup in 2019 they claimed a bronze, beating England in the third-fourth play-off.

The frustration for Sweden so far is that their attacking stars, such as Kosovare Asllani, Stina Blackstenius and Fridolina Rolfo, are yet to sparkle. They dismantled Portugal, but beyond that have looked turgid.

The opposition could partly be the reason for that, with Sweden’s quarter-final opponents Belgium happy to sit deep and frustrate. England will be far more attacking and they should give the Swedes space to counter, which is one of their strengths.

Sweden have yet to show their true colours en route to the semi-finals of Euro 2022 (Getty Images)
Sweden have yet to show their true colours en route to the semi-finals of Euro 2022 (Getty Images)

Under head coach Peter Gerhardsson, Sweden have proved to be a versatile side and they can operate with a back-three or four. Against England, they may well opt for a 3-4-3 formation that will become a 5-4-1 out of possession.

It was what they did against the Netherlands earlier in the tournament and will allow them to double up on wide players Beth Mead and Lauren Hemp, who are England’s biggest threats.

Sweden are a tall, physical side who will make the most of set-pieces and, given seven of their squad play in the WSL, England will be familiar with that.

“They’re going to come with a very physical game,” said Fran Kirby. “All the Swedish players that I’ve played with, and played against, are very physical.”

Sweden’s biggest weapon in attack is Barcelona star Rolfo, who has failed to shine so far at this tournament, but the hope for England’s oppents is that changes tonight.

“Hopefully, we can talk about her as the player who leads us to the final,” said Gerhardsson.

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