Huge disappointment after draw against Nigeria
Nigeria - Sweden 1 - 1 (0-0)
Sweden: Hedvig Lindahl (Linköping) - Anna Paulson (Umeå), Hanna Marklund (Sunnanå), Stina Segerström (Kif Örebro), Sara Thunebro (Djurgården) - Frida Östberg (Linköping), Caroline Seger (Linköping), Victoria Svensson (Djurgården) - Lotta Schelin (Göteborg) [83 Linda Forsberg (Djurgården)], Hanna Ljungberg (Umeå) [69 Sara Johansson (Hammarby)], Therese Sjögran (Malmö)
Goals: 0-1 Victoria Svensson (50), 1-1 Cynthia Uwak (82)
Sweden plays it's best with a knife against the throat, but this time the knife might actually cut the throat, writes Sydsvenskan columnist Anja Gatu after Sweden's 1-1 draw against Nigeria.
Sweden have lost their opening match in every previous World Cup, so this should have been an improvement, but nobody sees it like that. The match against Nigeria, the presumed weakest team in the group, was considered a must win for Sweden to advance. And for the first 60-70 minutes it worked pretty well. Sweden had most of the possession and had the best shots on goal, besides Victoria Svensson's goal also a couple of hits in the goalframe and some inspired saves by Nigeria's Precious Dede, while Nigeria only managed fairly weak finishes. But in the later half of the second Sweden's play lost intensity and they seemed satisfied to guard their one goal lead. Several commentators has pointed out that the substitution of Hanna Ljungberg after 70 minutes seemed give the (unintended) message to the team to back down and secure the lead. This is a dangerous state of mind and Nigeria pressed hard against the Swedish defense, that kept falling down in the closing minutes of the match. And personally I don't understand why players keep trying to argue with the referee about a decision that has already been made. Has that ever proved fruitful? If they instead had focused entirely on defendeing the free-kick, that led to Cynthia Uwak's equaliser, things might have turned out different?
Dagens Nyheter's Johan Esk says that he is not ready to give up on Sweden yet ("They are the slow starters of the big tournaments"), but when he compares Sweden-Nigeria to USA-North Korea, there is a world of difference and speed is the most important. Both defense and midfield will be tested much harder against both USA and Korea. He also notes that Sweden's 4-3-3 most of the time looked like 4-2-4, with Victoria Svensson playing in front of Hanna Ljungberg or at least side-by-side. Most of the other commentators are more straight forward - one week from now, Sweden is going home. And it wasn't really important that the team lost 2 points against Nigeria, since USA and North Korea also drew. Bit nobody can see the Sweden from yesterday being able to challenge the USA and North Korea teams playing the way they did earlier the same day.
I won't provide any links for my World Cup posts. You get great reports and stats at fifa.com. All swedish major news sites also have great coverage:
Dagens Nyheter: http://www.dn.se/DNet/jsp/polopoly.jsp?d=1486&a=688315
As per usual Sweden have gotten themselves into a very tight spot by not winning their opening game....they must be kicking themselves!
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