Lotta Schelin scores 4 when Sweden destroys Norway

Sweden and Norway both takes the first step in the preparations for the European Championships in August, having training camps in Spain and a playing a friendly.

Sweden - Norway  5 - 1 (4-0)

Sweden: Hedvig Lindahl (Göteborg) - Anna Paulson (Umeå), Sara Larsson (St. Louis) [59 Linda Sembrant (AIK)], Stina Segerström (Göteborg) [59 Johanna Frisk (Los Angeles)], Emelie Ölander (AIK) [Alexandra Nilsson (Sunnanå)] - Nilla Fischer (LDB FC) - Kosovare Asllani (Linköping) [64 Linda Forsberg (LDB FC), 75 Lisa Dahlkvist (Umeå)], Caroline Seger (Linköping), Therese Sjögran (LDB FC) - Lotta Schelin (Lyon), Victoria Svensson (Djurgården) [71 Linnea Liljegärd (Göteborg)]
Goals: 1-0 Lotta Schelin (12), 2-0 Sara Larsson (17), 3-0 Lotta Schelin (24), 4-0 Lotta Schelin (32), 4-1 Ingvild Stensland (60), 5-1 Lotta Schelin (64)
Lotta Schelin, the only Swedish player who isn't pre-season but very much in the midst of her French season, showed that she hasn't lost any of her goal scoring prowess in Lyon, scoring four of Sweden's five goals. The first 30 minutes was a complete Swedish dominance. After that, the Norwegians managed to compete better and in the second half Sweden's head coach Thomas Dennerby began to make substitutions and change tactics, which slowed down Sweden's attack.
  • A report just surfaced at Svensk fotboll. Coaches Thomas Dennerby and Lillie Persson were very pleased with the play in the first half. The team played just like they had trained, playing the ball through midfield with speed, precise passes and well timed movements. Only one goal came from a set piece, a hard well placed free-kick from Therese Sjögran which Sara Larsson could push into goal. Newbies Ölander and Asllani were behind two of Schelin's goals, while Victoria Svensson set up another. Lotta Schelin created the 5-1 goal all by herself. Schelin was of course brilliant and also very pleased herself and with the team: "We played better than Norway today, particularly in the first half. I really think it was a fair result."
All Sweden's uncapped players got to play in the match. Emelie Ölander started while Alexandra Nilsson, Johanna Frisk and Linnea Liljegärd got on field in the second half. The 5-1 win is Sweden's biggest defeat of Norway since 1985.
Lotta Schelin sänkte Norge med fyra mål
Svensk Fotboll: Schelin fyramålsskytt mot Norge
  • There is now a short clip (Windows media, 13 MB) from Norwegian television with an even shorter piece from the match, two Schelin goals and Stensland's long distance rocket. Thanks, Bonnie!

The two teams also met in an unofficial 3x30 minutes training match last Thursday. Sweden rested four of the more experienced players (Schelin, Seger, Forsberg and Sjögran), who had just recently come back from minor injuries and Norway won 1-0 (goal by Kaurin) after Sweden's Nilla Fischer missed a closing time penalty.
Svensk Fotboll: Bra test mot Norge trots förlust

More newbies called up to Spain camp

Two defenders, Linköping's Lotta Rohlin and Hammarby's Anna Lindblom, had to notify national team head coach Thomas Dennerby that they couldn't join the team, that takes off to Spain today, Sunday. Dennerby continues on the youthful approach and has called up two uncapped players, the soon to be Los Angeles Sol player Johanna Frisk (22 years old) and AIK's 19 year old Emelie Ölander. Both have extensive experience from the younger national teams, but neither has been on the senior team before.
These changes to the team makes it 4 uncapped players on the squad and another 5, who got their first cap last season. Since it is a 23 player squad and only one match is planned, against a Norwegian side that also comes with a very youthful side, I'm not sure all the 9 youngsters will get time on the field.
Svensk fotboll:
Rohlin och Lindblom missar läger

Uncapped Liljegärd called up for Spain camp

Kopparbergs/Göteborg's 20 year old forward Linnea Liljegärd recieved her first call-up to the national team. She replaces Linköping's Jessica Landström, who turned down the invitation, citing a small injury problem.
In Lotta Schelin's abcense, Liljegärd quickly established herself as a starter for Göteborg last season, teaming up with also called-up Sara Lindén. She scored twelve goals last season and has also been successful with Sweden's U21 team.
Svensk Fotboll:
Liljegärd blir en ny bekantskap

National team selection comments

I really should have done this last night, but I was too tired. Anyways, I think a few comments to the national team squad selected by Thomas Dennerby for the January camp are appropriate:

A couple of players who played internationally in 2008 announced their retirement from the national team late last year: Hanna Ljungberg (who still plays club football for Umeå), Frida Östberg (who still might accept an offer from Chicago Red Stars in the American league) and Therese Lundin (who really, really has retired).

Coach Dennerby decided to bring only two (instead of the usual three) goalkeepers to camp. He picked Sofia Lundgren over Kristin Hammarström, who often was the premier choice for back-up keeper last year. Sofia had the best goalkeeper stats in Damallsvenskan the 2008 season. "Statistics isn't everything, but she definitely deserves a chance to show what she can", Dennerby commented. Sweden's most experienced keeper, Caroline Jönsson, is in a kind of limbo right now, studying psychology at Umeå University and training with Umeå IK, but not attached to any club.

Josefine Öqvist will have surgery some time in January to correct a groin nerve that has been bothering her for a couple of seasons. She hopes to be fit for Algarve Cup in March.

20 years old defender Malin Levenstad had a severe knee injury last summer and hasn't played a match since. Dennerby still takes the chance: "As far as I understand she is fully recovered. And when Miss Östberg made her good byes [Malin] is a good replacement".

Malin Levenstad tillbaka i landslaget
Corren: Nerv i kläm stoppar Öqvist

Sweden sends youthful team to January training camp

Sweden's national team coach Thomas Dennerby announced his team for the winter training camp in Spain, a camp that includes a friendly against Norway january 31. The roster includes only three players borned in the 1970's, while several players only has one or two caps. The young defenders Anna Lindblom, Malin Levenstad, Linda Sembrant and Alexandra Nilsson had their first call-ups last year and the offensive players Kosovare Asllani, Louise Fors and Sara Lindén made their first marks in the last qualification matches for the European championships last fall.
"There has been an important rejuvenation of the team, so it feels good to be able to keep players like Vickan [Victoria Svensson] and [Therese] Sjögran", he commented his selection.








Hedvig Lindahl

Kopparbergs/Göteborg FC




Sofia Lundgren

Linköping FC







Sara Larsson

St. Louis Athletica (?)




Malin Levenstad

LDB FC Malmö




Anna Lindblom

Hammarby IF




Alexandra Nilsson

Sunnanå SK




Anna Paulsson

Umeå IK




Charlotte Rohlin

Linköping FC




Stina Segerström

Kopparbergs/Göteborg FC




Linda Sembrant








Johanna Almgren

Kopparbergs/Göteborg FC




Kosovare Asllani

Linköping FC




Lisa Dahlqvist

Umeå IK




Madeleine Edlund

Umeå IK




Nilla Fischer

LDB FC Malmö




Louise Fors





Linda Forsberg

LDB FC Malmö




Jessica Landström

Linköping FC




Sara Lindén

Kopparbergs/Göteborg FC




Lotta Schelin

Olympique Lyon




Caroline Seger

Linköping FC




Therese Sjögran

LDB FC Malmö




Victoria Svensson





Svensk Fotboll:
Ny chans för höstens debutanter

2009 Sweden and Damallsvenskan match schedule

The preliminary match calendars for Sweden and for Damallsvenskan has been published at the Swedish Football Association's website.

Damallsvenskan will start April 1 and continue until November 7 with a two month break for the European Championships in Finland in August and September. The
full match schedule is here, but it is preliminary and there will almost certainly be some changes. Though hopefully not as many as in 2008.

The national team match schedule is not complete, as the qualifications for the 2011 World Cup will begin in the fall after the Euros. The qualification groups will be decided in March. Sweden's preparations for the Euros will contain camps in January, July and August and training matches against Norway and Finland.

A friendly will be played on April 25 to inaugurate the newly rebuilt Gamla Ullevi arena in Göteborg. Gamla Ullevi will be the official home stadium for the Sweden's women's team. The Swedish FA has invited Brazil to play the stadium opener. Brazil has answered in positive terms to Sweden's invitation, but details remains to be sorted out. Maybe details like the availability of Brazilian players for their national team? Several of them will be playing in the new American WPS league and this might be the first test of how the league will handle these things. I'm fairly convinced that April 25 is a FIFA protected date, but that isn't always enough to avoid complications.
Svensk Fotboll: Gamla Ullevi damernas nationalarena från 2009
Göteborgsposten: Marta kan inviga Gamla Ullevi

Spotless Euro qualification campaign for Sweden

Sweden - Ireland  1 - 0 (1–0)
Sweden: Caroline Jönsson – Frida Östberg, Stina Segerström, Charlotte Rohlin, Sara Thunebro – Jessica Landström (67 Kosovare Asllani), Lisa Dahlqvist, Nilla Fischer (67 Caroline Seger), Therese Sjögran (79 Nazanin Vaseghpanah) – Lotta Schelin, Madelaine Edlund.
Goals: 1–0 Madelaine Edlund (42).
Attendance: 1,083
After having secured qualification already this summer, Sweden's goal for the remaining two matches has been to win every match and not concede any goals. Defeating Ireland on a cold and windy evening 1-0 acomplished that goal, 8 straight wins and 31-0 in goals. The match wasn't much to brag about. Head coach Thomas Dennerby admitted that: "We were only playing at 60 % of our capacity" and Ireland, trying hard to get a 0-0 draw, were successful in bringing down the pace of the game.
The lone goal came from a corner-kick by Therese Sjögran that landed on Madeleine Edlund's foot, Edlund standing almost on the goalline.
Hammarby's Nazanin Vaseghpanah subbed in for Therese Sjögran late in the second half, making her the fourth player to earn her first cap in these two last qualification matches.
Sverige till EM - utan insläppt mål
SVT: Edlund stod rätt - sänkte Irland

Debutant shines in lacklustre Sweden win

Sweden - Romania 2 - 0 (2-0)
Sweden: Hedvig Lindahl - Anna Paulson, Sara Larsson, Stina Segerström, Sara Thunebro - Caroline Seger - Kosovare Asllani (71 Sara Lindén), Nilla Fischer (63 Louise Fors), Therese Sjögran - Lotta Schelin (77 Madelaine Edlund), Jessica Landström
Goals: 1-0 Therese Sjögran (32), 2-0 Nilla Fischer (37)
Attendance: 3,680
Sweden did their duty against Romania, dominating the match, but lacking some of the speed, edge and will that would have been needed against a better side.
On the brighter side, three players got their first caps for the full national side - Kosovare Asllani, Louise Fors and Sara Lindén - and did well enough to expect further call-ups. In particular Asllani impressed. She showed a lot of initiative, did well one-on-one and participated in the build-up to Therese Sjögran's 1-0 goal with a great pass to Schelin. She was also named player of the match.
Lindén and Fors had shorter time to make an impression, but both showed that Dennerby wasn't wrong in giving them the opportunity. The fourth un-capped player, Nazanin Vaseghpanah, wasn't dressed for the match, but will most probably play against Ireland on Wednesday.
Dagens Nyheter:
Enkel svensk kvalseger mot Rumänien
Aftonbladet: 19-årig debutant imponerade i EM-kvalet, ”Vi är den nya generationen”
Vestmanlands Läns Tidning: pictures
SVT: match clip

Sara Lindén replaces Johanna Almgren in national team

Many have been asking why the best Swedish goalscorer in Damallsvenskan, Sara Lindén, doesn't get called up for the national team. Well, now she has. Her Kopparbergs/Göteborg teammate Johanna Almgren had to leave the squad, troubled by a thigh muscle injury, and national team coach Thomas Dennerby chose to replace her with Lindén. She has played numerous matches with the younger national teams but has at 25 years never been called up to the full national side. She has scored 16 goals in Damallsvenskan this season, second only to Malmö's Dutch forward Manon Melis, but more than players like Marta and Lisa De Vanna. Coach Dennerby also cites her goalscoring capability as his main reason to call her up.
Sweden will play Ireland on Saturday and Romania on Wednesday.
Almgren skadad - Lindén ersätter

Victoria Svensson wants to play Euro 2009, Hanna Ljungberg hesitates

Two of the players that chose to say no thanks to the remaining, for qualification meaningless, Euro qualifiers against Ireland and Romania, Hanna Ljungberg and Victoria Svensson, has somewhat different views on playing the 2009 Euros in Finland.

Victoria Svensson has already decided that she wants to continue with the national team over next season: "It's so fun in the national team and I feel I still have something to contribute".

Hanna Ljungberg, who for the last few years has been almost constantly troubled by injuries, hesitates. "It's important for me to rest now. We're in the middle of a fight for the championship now and have UEFA Women's Cup matches later on". But she doesn't want to make a decision for next year yet, she only says that "this doesn't necessarily mean that I'm finished with the national team".
Dagens Nyheter:
Victoria Svensson satsar på EM-spel
Göteborgsposten: Hanna tveksam till landslaget

Oldies rests, young ones picked for Sweden's last Euro qualification matches

Players like Victoria Svensson, Hanna Ljungberg and Karolina Westberg all asked to be left out of Sweden's squad for the last two qualification matches (Ireland September 27 and Romania October 1) for the 2009 European Championships to be able to focus on club commitments. As Sweden already is qualified, coach Thomas Dennerby could make an exception from his usual policy to always field the best team in competition matches. Instead he picked a group of young, internationally inexperienced players that have done well in Damallsvenskan this year: Linköping's 19 years old Kosovare Asllani,  AIK's Louise Fors (18) and Hammarby's Nazanin Vaseghpanah (21). Asllani, who competed with Cristiane for one of the forward spots in Linköping, has only started 7 times for her club team but has 7 goals and 3 assists to her name. Fors has been a regular starter for an AIK that has made their best season ever and Vaseghpanah has 8 goals for her Hammarby, that is struggling in the lower half of the league. Keeping older players in the defense is a well-considered decision says Dennerby: "We chose to keep the skilled defenders to be able to field new players on the offensive positions".

Hedvig Lindahl, Linköpings FC (38 caps)
Caroline Jönsson, LDB FC Malmö (79)

Sara Larsson, Linköpings FC (81)
Anna Paulson, Umeå IK (26)
Charlotte Rohlin, Linköpings FC (15)
Stina Segerström, Kif Örebro (28)
Sara Thunebro, Djurgården (36)
Frida Östberg, Umeå IK (77)

Johanna Almgren, Kopparbergs/Göteborg FC (17)
Lisa Dahlqvist, Umeå IK (5)
Nilla Fischer, LDB FC Malmö (38)
Louise Fors, AIK (-)
Caroline Seger, Linköpings FC (47)
Therese Sjögran, LDB FC Malmö (131)
Nazanin Vaseghpanah, Hammarby (-)

Maria Aronsson, LDB FC Malmö (16)
Kosovare Asllani, Linköpings FC (-)
Madelaine Edlund, Umeå IK (4)
Jessica Landström, Linköpings FC (17)
Lotta Schelin, Olympique Lyonnais (56)
Svensk Fotboll:
Fors, Asllani och Vaseghpanah med i EM-kvaltruppen

Bitter Olympic exit for Sweden

Sweden - Germany 0 - 2 e.t. (0-0, 0-0)
Sweden: Hedvig Lindahl - Frida Östberg, Sara Larsson (110 Maria Aronsson), Charlotte Rohlin, Sara Thunebro - Caroline Seger - Linda Forsberg (67 Anna Paulson), Victoria Svensson, Therese Sjögran (110 Johanna Almgren) - Lotta Schelin, Jessica Landström
Goals: 0-1 Kerstin Garefrekes (105), 0-2 Simone Laudehr (115)
Holding Germany tied for 90 minutes isn't a small feat, but since it always seems to end with Germany scoring in extratime (2001 and 2003 are earlier examples), it just leaves a bitter taste of defeat. Sweden stood up pretty well in a rather typical Sweden-Germany match, close, physical, decided on set pieces. Not until extra-time, when things began to fall apart for Sweden, did Germany look like clear winners. Dennerby's offensive substitutions after 10 minutes of extra-time was the right way to go, but didn't help.
Both Therese Sjögran and Victoria Svensson said that this was their last Olympics, but none of them commented on next year. Coach Thomas Dennerby will stay on - he got a declaration of confidence from the Swedish FA almost immideately after the match - but I think that we will be in trouble if next year's European Championships ends in anything like the two championships he has coached the Swedish side. Marika Domanski Lyfors reached at least the semifinals 2003-2005, Dennerby hasn't managed after his first two tries. Even if the Football Association is patient, I don't think he can afford third failure.
Tyskland gjorde två mål i förlängning
Expressen: Seger: "Det känns jävligt tråkigt"
Dagens Nyheter: Bittert slut för Sverige
"Nothing happens for 90 minutes, and then...", a really good match report in English at Damallsvenskan Soapbox

Germany next

Germany isn't Sweden's favourite team. Sweden has their last 6 championship matches against Germany. And Germany's goalkeeper Nadine Angerer has kept a clean sheet for the last 9 championship matches. All predictions in Swedish media has germany as huge favourites. But there is a glimmer of hope. Germany has so far not been playing that well and they have recieved a lot of critizism from home. Sweden's coaches and players are talking about the upcoming match with optimism: "We have to win sometime and this is the best time to do it".
Coach Thomas Dennerby says he can see some flaws in the German team: "Their back-line isn't that fast" and Victoria Svensson thinks that all the midfielders doesn't really do their job. "It's always been close when we have met", says Lotta Schelin, who promises that they can score against any competition.
There is a lot of focus on Nadine Angerer, who is Victoria Svensson's teammate in Djurgården in the Swedish league: "She is a great keeper and her record speaks for itself", says Victoria, "but she has weaknesses and I and Foppa [Linda Forsberg] has told the others [on the Swedish team]." But they don't want to tell the press. "They speak Swedish and they read Swedish papers", explains Thomas Dennerby, refering to Angerer and her Djurgården teammate Ariane Hingst.
As usual this Olympics, all the football teams that are playing in the same town are also lodged in the same hotel and Victoria Svensson tells that there has been some gibes when they have met in the lobby.
The injury list has shortened somewhat, Sara Thunebro has recovered from her headbutting incident and will be able to play, but it is still undcertain if Nilla Fischer will recover in time.
Dagens Nyheter:
Tyska muren står i vägen för medalj
SVT: Lotta Schelin sugen på fler mål (with video interviews, for those of you who are allowed to see them)
Expressen: Djurgårdare kan fälla Sverige

Sweden defeats Canada and extends injury list

Sweden - Canada 2 - 1 (1-0)
Sweden: Hedvig Lindahl - Frida Östberg, Sara Larsson, Charlotte Rohlin, Sara Thunebro (86 Anna Paulson) - Nilla Fischer (27 Jessica Landström) - Linda Forsberg, Caroline Seger, Therese Sjögran - Lotta Schelin, Victoria Svensson
Goals: 1-0 Lotta Schelin (19), 2-0 Lotta Schelin (51), 2-1 Melissa Tancredi (63)
I've been on the road today, so just a few short comments. The match is unanimously regarded as Sweden's best so far. The defense had a lot to do, but did it well. Better combinations, better movement and more players involved in the attacks.
Fischer's injury was very unfortunate (hasn't the fields been looking very soft by the way?), but it gave Jessica Landström the chance she deserves. Playing Victoria Svensson in a classic number 10 position is always a good idea – she was brilliant setting up both Sweden's goals - and Caroline Seger became much less error-prone when she was moved back to the more defensive midfield position.
The injuries to Fischer and Thunebro are troubling. Hanna Ljungberg and Josefine Öqvist has both left the team and Lisa Dahlqvist is the only alternate that hasn't been called in.
And winning the match was rewarded with a quarterfinal match against Germany. Not fun. A tie or a loss would have had a match against USA as the prize (after an almost unimaginable Norwegian crash and burn against Japan), so it really doesn't matter.
"Nu får det räcka, annars blir det tufft" 
SVT: Dyrköpt vinst mot Kanada  (including videos, goal clips and stuff)

Josefine Öqvist not fit for Canada match

Sweden's winger/forward Josefine Öqvist, who rested against Argentina with a cramping thigh muscle, has been ruled out for the important Canada match by the medical team. She had to leave the Monday training session with muscle pains. An MRI examination revealed a fluid congestion in the thigh muscle. She will not be able to play against Canada and she might miss the rest of the Olympics.
In other pre-match news, there has been a debate in the press if it isn't better for Sweden to go down against Canada to avoid a Germany or Brazil match in the quarters and instead play Norway, a team Sweden has defeated twice this year. Expressen's Thomas Pettersson and Annette Börjesson, editor of Damfotboll.com, has maybe not outright argued in favour of this, but at least discussed the possibility. But national team coach Thomas Dennerby is not interested. "We need to take points in this match [to secure advancement]", he says.
Tårögd Öqvist missar ödesmatch
Expressen: Tomas Pettersson: Vinn inte mot Kanada
Aftonbladet: OS slut för Jossan?, Kan gynnas – av förlust

Sweden defeats Argentina without impressing

Sweden - Argentina  1 - 0 (0-0)
Sweden: Hedvig Lindahl - Anna Paulson, Sara Larsson, Charlotte Rohlin (91 Stina Segerström), Sara Thunebro - Nilla Fischer - Frida Östberg, Caroline Seger (80 Jessica Landström), Therese Sjögran (71 Linda Forsberg) - Lotta Schelin,  Victoria Svensson.
Goals: 1-0 Nilla Fischer (58)
Attendance: 38,293
Sweden did their duty and defeated Argentina, but even if they dominated with much more possession and shots at goal, it looked good only short periods. The lack of speed, movement and creativity in the attack was the same as against China and the team also got a half-time scolding from coach Dennerby. It seems like they listened and had a fairly good period ion the beginning of the second half, leading up til the winning goal, headed in by Nilla Fischer on a perfect free-kick from LDB Malmö teammate Therese Sjögran.
The heath and humidity was a big problem - "It felt like playing in a hot shower" commented Fischer - and partly to blame for the lack of speed. And slow was what Argentina wanted, often playing nine players on the defensive side of the ball, defending deep and waiting for a lucky break. They almost got it. They created two really dangerous situations in the last minutes of the match, showing Sweden that a one goal lead isn't anything to lean on.
And is goalkeeper Correa really the same Correa that tended the goal for Argentina last year? What a difference!!

Coach Thomas Dennerby didn't want to discuss possible group finishing scenarios with the press, but we can do that ourselves. First, Sweden has now qualified for the quarterfinals. Ok, there is a disaster scenario where Sweden lose to Canada, New Zealand defeats USA or (slightly more likely) Japan defeats Norway while North Korea performs better against Germany than Sweden does against Canada. I don't think all that will happen. Second, a third place finish should probably put Sweden up against Norway in the QF. Since a second placed team probably has to face Germany or Brazil while winning gains North Korea as an opponent, I really don't think finishing third is something to avoid at all costs. On the contrary.
Nillas nick sänkte Argentina (match clip videos)
Aftonbladet: Utskällningen tände spelarna

Dennerby: We need to score against Argentina

Sweden's last training session before the group match against Argentina focused on finishing. "This is a better Argentina than in the World Cup last year" said national team coach Thomas Dennerby. "We need to score against Argentina and we have to be much more resolute in finishing. We also need to be much more focused on set pieces." Therese Sjögran didn't participate and Josefine Öqvist left the session after an hour. No need to worry though, this was mostly precaution and has been done with other players on earlier trainings.
There is a lot of speculation about Sweden's tactics and line-up for the crucial Argentina match. A common idea is that Sweden not only needs to win, they need to get a really good score-line if it should come to the tie-breaker for the placement in the group. Jessica Landström - a tall, strong forward, perfect to use against the rather small Argentine defense - was the centre of many of the finishing exercises today and is promoted as a should-be starter by the analysts in Swedish media. This would be instead of Victoria Svensson and the best suggestion in my opinion is to let Victoria take an offensive midfield position and bench the more defensive Nilla Fischer. Umeå IK's full back Anna Paulsson is also rumoured to be a starter tomorrow, seen as a better offensive alternative than Frida Östberg. Expressen's Thomas Pettersson even wants to replace goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl with Caroline Jönsson. Not so much because Lindahl has been bad - she made mistakes but were still reliable - but to shake up the team a bit. And Jönsson has been looking good at training.
Svensk Fotboll:
Tre poäng ett måste mot Argentina
Expressen: Damlandslaget möblerar om i laget - siktar på målkalas, Pettersson: Väck laget - byt målvakt
Aftonbladet: ”Det ska inte vara någon fara”, Peta Vickan
SVT: Läget inför Argentina-matchen (video from today's training session)

As usual: Sweden lose opening match

Sweden - China  1 - 2 (1-1)
Sweden: Hedvig Lindahl - Frida Östberg, Sara Larsson, Charlotte Rohlin, Sara Thunebro - Nilla Fischer (76 Jessica Landström) - Josefine Öqvist (73 Linda Forsberg), Caroline Seger, Therese Sjögran (83 Johanna Almgren) - Victoria Svensson, Lotta Schelin
Goals: 0-1 Xu Yuan (6), 1-1 Lotta Schelin (38), 1-2 Han Duan (72)
Attendance: 37,902
Sweden has never won an opening match in a World Cup or an Olympic tournament. Not now either. You can find match reports in English at several international sites, including
Fifa, so I don't have to bother you with that. And the Beijing 2008 official site is good for line-ups and such.
Swedish post-game reactions are pretty harsh. "Yet another flop", "Weak losers" and "Failing when it counts" was some of the phrases used. In particular the defense got bad reviews and the lack of creativity and movement in the attack. Even usually smiling coach Thomas Dennerby was unhappy: "We underperformed and we made mistakes that led to both China's goals." The players were more in a "lets move on"-mood, not interested in brooding over the defeat, "But I'm sure you will do that", Lotta Schelin told a reporter.
On the brighter side, this was a better performance than in the opener against Nigeria in the Women's World Cup last year. I liked some of the things I saw. Hedvig Lindahl's gutsy goalkeeping, often outside her area, opened for Swedish counters, one of which eventually led to the equaliser. The long period from the middle of the first until Han's goal, that actually came against the current, when Sweden played with confidence and dominated. And in the other group match, neither Canada or Argentina showed anything that should scare Sweden.
SVT: Nattsvart för Dennerbys damer - lot's of videoclips here, including the full match. I'm guessing some of these are blocked for viewing outside Sweden, but have a try.

Sweden confident before China match

After moving over to China from the Swedish Olympic praparation camp in Fukuoka, a southern Japan seaside resort,the team was confinent before the Olympic tournament. The goal is a top three finish and the vision is a gold, says both coach thomas Dennerby and team captain Victoria Svensson. The team chose to prepare at the Swedish Olympic camp in japan to get away from the distractions of the Olympics. Overall there has been much less shopping, sightseing and panda-petting than last year and more serious preparations. Dennerby tells that he have spent a lot of time in building self-confidence in the team. "They have been much too modest. When I asked what they thought about the match against USA, they just said 'we did OK'". "OK?!" Dennerby had replied "You did great. You played against the probably best team in the world and you tore up their defense repeatedly". He is also pretty confident before the opener against China: "If we played them five times now, we would win four" His only reservation is that China is playing an Olympic opener in front of a 60,000 home audience.
Team captain Victoria Svensson thinks that the difference from last year is that the team is more secure in themselves and in their play. "Last year we lost several key player to late injuries and we changed our system. We will definitely get out of the group this time and a medal is a realistic goal."
Losing Hanna Ljungberg so close to the first match is of course a downer, in particular for Hanna herself. There has been tears, but Hanna has continued to train with the team and will watch the China match before she returns home. The team will miss Hanna Ljungberg, but the loss isn't a disaster. Everybody knows she's been having injury problems and no one saw her as a starter. LDB FC Malmö's target player Maria Aronsson has been picked as a new alternate and flew over to China Tuesday to be on location if needed.
Ljungbergs tre OS-turneringar (video with clips from Hanna's three Olympics)
Aftonbladet: ”Guldet är vår vision”
Dagens Nyheter: Svensson tror på medalj
Göteborgsposten: Harmonisk stämning i fotbollslandslaget
And if you want to know what Dennerby was talking about, there are clips from the USA match at Jocasta's Damallsoapbox.

Hanna Ljungberg leaves Olympic team

Hanna Ljungberg, who has been troubled by her left hamstring since Sweden's camp on Gotland a couple of weeks ago, will leave the Olympic team. Hanna, who has had most of the spring season hampered by a similar injurry in her right thigh, has been working with Sweden's medical team, trying to get fit for the match against China on Wednesday. It is now clear that she will not be fit in time for that match and, coach Dennerby says "we don't know if it will take three or four days or even longer to recover". It wasn't a hard decision to take, says Dennerby, but of course an emotionally tough one.
Hanna Ljungberg will be replaced by alternate Johanna Almgren, Kopparbergs/Göteborg's midfielder, who is one of the alternates that travelled with the team. Already a week ago Dennerby wanted to get another alternate, Umeå forward Madeleine Edlund, to fly over to the far east to be prepared to be called up. But Edlund experienced a muscle problem similar to Ljungberg's and decided after discussions with Umeå's medical staff and with coach Dennerby, to stay behind. Having to bring in a midfielder for a forward isn't a problem for Dennerby: "We can deal with this with the players that are already here". Linköping's Josefine Öqvist (listed as midfielder) looks most likely to me.
Hanna Ljungberg helt borta från OS

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