Algarve Cup round-up

There weren't much TV or press coverage of Algarve Cup this year, much to the disappointment of both fans and players. Eurosport didn't cover the event this year, since the German broadcaster ZDF had bought the German rights. And without Germany, it was difficult for Eurosport to carry the Cup, both financially (Germany is their biggest market) and technically (they claim it is not possible for them to block out their broadcast from german recievers). And with no TV coverage, there is much less interest from the press. So it is hard to know what really happened. It didn't go that well for Sweden, resultwise, but this is on the other hand one of those tournaments where Swedish coaches always states that it is the performance, not the result, that is important.

So how about the performance? Coach Thomas Dennerby said that he was really pleased with the defense. There has been a lot of worry how it will work without retired Hanna Marklund, but the centre defense has been "consistently great, no matter who played". With Karolina Westberg, Stina Segerström, Charlotte Rohlin and Sara Larsson to chose from there shouldn't be any worries. And for those who are interested in possession percentages, Sweden has been able to control the ball most of the time, even against Germany. But in the important last third of the field the play has been slow and without edge. It has been stereotype, with bad movement from the players and very few alternatives to play, says TT's Thomas Eriksson, one of the very few journalists that were at the site. It seems like the only player that has strengthened her position in the Swedish attack is Lotta Schelin. Who didn't play (a minor muscle tear kept her outside the team), but whose absence was very noticeable. And Johanna Almgren looked good the few minutes I saw her against Germany, showing spark and initiative but missing an almost open goal.

Finland - Sweden 1 - 3 (0-2)
Sweden: Kristin Hammarström (Kif Örebro) - Frida Östberg (Umeå), Karolina Westberg (Umeå), Charlotte Rohlin (Linköping), Sara Thunebro (Djurgården) - Nilla Fischer (LDB FC Malmö) - Therese Sjögran (LDB FC Malmö) [72 Josefine Öqvist (Linköping)], Victoria Svensson (Djurgården) [66 Caroline Seger (Linköping)], Johanna Almgren (Göteborg) [87 Anna Paulson (Umeå)] - Hanna Ljungberg (Umeå) [66 Jessica Landström [Linköping]), Therese Lundin (LDB FC Malmö)
Goals: 0-1 Hanna Ljungberg (25), 0-2 Nilla Fischer (28), 1-3 Therese Lundin (87)
It was a lot like another day at the job for Sweden as they dismissed a young Finnish side. They did let Finland back in the game in the second half, letting Kif Örebro's Leena Puranen score, but generally controlled the match.
Hanna Ljungberg's opener was her 72nd international goal, making her Sweden's number 1 goalscorer of all times, passing by Lena Videkull and Pia Sundhage, who both managed 71 in their careers.
Finland is very much in transition right now with a lot of new players. Anne Mäkinen quit the national team 2006, Laura Kalmari gave birth to a daughter last week and both Sanna Valkonen and Jessica Julin has declared that they are taking this year off from the national team.
Svensk fotboll: Finland inga problem för Sverige
Dagens Nyheter: Roligare minnen för Ljungberg

Denmark - Sweden 1 - 0 (1-0)
Sweden: Hedvig Lindahl (Linköping) - Anna Paulson (Umeå), Sara Larsson (Linköping), Stina Segerström (Kif Örebro), Frida Östberg (Umeå) - Caroline Seger (Linköping) [58 Nilla Fischer (LDB FC Malmö)] - Therese Sjögran (LDB FC Malmö) [64 Josefine Öqvist (Linköping)], Victoria Svensson (Djurgården)[75 Sara Thunebro (Djurgården)], Frida Nordin (LDB FC Malmö) [64 Johanna Almgren (Göteborg)] - Therese Lundin (LDB FC Malmö) [58 Hanna Ljungberg (Umeå)], Jessica Landström (Linköping)
While the last three encounters with Denmark has featured Danish ball control and fluent passing with Swedish efficient counters, this was pretty much the opposite. Denmark relied on cautious defending and fast counters, while Sweden were allowed to posses most of the time. The compulsory Danish goal from a header (they have scored this way in every match against Sweden the last year) came already in the 6th minute from Cathrine Paaske Sørensen (later to be named tournament MVP). Against a better organized side than Finland, Sweden's problems to create scoring chances proved fatal. In spite of running the game, they failed to challenge the Danish keeper.
Svenska Dagbladet: Sverige förlorade i Algarve cup

Germany - Sweden 2 - 0 (1-0)
Sweden: Kristin Hammarström (Kif Örebro) - Anna Paulson (Umeå), Sara Larsson (Linköping), Charlotte Rohlin (Linköping), Sara Thunebro (Djurgården) - Nilla Fischer (LDB FC Malmö) - Therese Sjögran (LDB FC Malmö) [71 Johanna Almgren (Göteborg)], Victoria Svensson (Djurgården) [59 Josefine Öqvist (Linköping)], Caroline Seger (Linköping) [71 Frida Östberg (Umeå)] - Hanna Ljungberg (Umeå) [77 Frida Nordin (LDB FC Malmö)], Jessica Landström (Linköping) [59 Maria Aronsson (LDB FC Malmö)]
Just like in the match against Denmark, Sweden was allowed to hold on to the ball but were unable to convert the possession to goals. Germany's first goal in the 25th minute emanted, just like Denmark's, from an offensive throw-in, where Sweden didn't mark their opponents the way they should have if it had been a free-kick. Sandra Smisek could beat her defender and get one-on-one with the keeper. Germany also got a late (86th minute) penalty goal after a situation the referee just as well might have let pass by.
Even if you always want to win, as coach dennerby said, both players and coach were after the match fairly satisfied with the team's performance. Hanna Ljungberg called it "a fall forward" and once again it was the defense that worked best.
Expressen: "Ett fall framåt"
SVT: match clip (video)

Sweden - Italy 3 - 0 (0-0)
Sweden: Hedvig Lindahl (Linköping) - Frida Östberg (Umeå) [49 Anna Paulson (Umeå)], Karolina Westberg (Umeå), Stina Segerström (Linköping), Sara Thunebro (Djurgården) - Caroline Seger (Linköping) [56 Nilla Fischer (LDB FC Malmö)] - Frida Nordin (LDB FC Malmö) [56 Therese Sjögran (LDB FC Malmö)], Therese Lundin (LDB FC Malmö) [56 Victoria Svensson (Djurgården)], Johanna Almgren - Josefine Öqvist (Linköping) [83 Charlotte Rohlin (Linköping)], Maria Aronsson (LDB FC Malmö) [56 Jessica Landström (Linköping)]
Goals: 1-0 Josefine Öqvist (56), 2-0 Victoria Svensson (61), 3-0 Victoria Svensson (80)
A placement match for the 5th place doesn't really get my blood running, and it seemed like the players weren't really up to it either. The first half was probably Sweden's worst in the tournament. Things didn't shape up until Dennerby made a major substitution ten minutes in to the second half, throwing in old reliable players like Victoria Svensson and Therese Sjögran. Sweden will be facing Italy again in May, as they are playing in the same European Championship qualification group, and Dennerby pointed out that the win gives Sweden an advantage: "the Italians knows they will have a tough match and our girls knows they can win".
Dagens Nyheter: "Vickan" hjälte i Algarve

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