Germany – Sweden 4:1(2:0)

Disappointing from Sweden or brilliant from Germany?

Surely a bit of both. But more of the first. Why? Lets come to this later.
Sweden got almost all of the expected key points not working:
– Loads of individual faults in the defense.
– The offense could hardly threaten the German defense even in 1on1 situations (or at least the Ivory Coast forwards looked not less dangerous)
– Key players didnt perform (only Seger ok; Jakobsson trying; Fischer and even more Schelin: better be kind)
Sometimes the character of football matches can change very fast. Not often you can tell the story of a game after 30secs. Maybe here you could.
It was all Germany. It was Swedish errors. They didnt show enough quality on this occasion.
And – even worse: They were lacking the awareness and desire to make up for the German players advantage in football class.
The only things you could not already guess after the first 30 secs was that Germany would be going to take their chances better than Popp did and that Sweden would be equally lacking quality in midfield and offense as in the back, especially the poor preformance of Schelin.

The idea of putting Rubensson one up into a midfield position and Berglund in at right back was not so bad on paper to put a little bit more offense power and speed to that midfield. Kudos to that. But it backfired already in that very first moment when Berglund was too slow to get it sorted that she wouldnt be able to reach the ball with her legs and too late to decide to use her head instead. Fortunately for Sweden that chance fell to Popp who is on a low in using her chances. Her reputation is based on headers only where she might be (usually) even the best in europe but her ratio of being able to convert big opportunities with her feet gives room for lots and lots of improvement not only since this WWC. I dont know why Germany pitches a player with brilliant header skills on the left wing and I dont know whether Neid considers to use another player there or tell Popp to try a diving header even if the ball is lying flat on the floor in front of her. A second half shot attempt on goal went out not even close to the corner but in nearly 10m distance for a throw in. That might remain the record miss of this championships.
Amongst football teammates you would say Angerer better should be watching out next time when Popp tries to shoot on the opposite goal.

Unfortunately Sweden is facing hard times in women football internationally. Schelin already far out of world class performance level since years, Fischer and Seger all around or above 32 comes the next EC in 2017. Jakobsson, Asllani and Rubensson not enough to keep the Swedish level up to rank third in Europe. Hopefully the younger players like Rolfö can take over but they might have to go a long way to keep them on level with the likes of Norway, England, Netherlands or Spain for the years to come. Germany (and France) never seemed more out of reach than today already. And the fact that these nations have a bunch of young players already in as well as ready to come in could make the difference much worse.

But still you shouldnt forget that Sweden looked so much better in the Alga-Cup. Still the team is able to perform much better than they did in Canada. Certainly you have to ask the management (but also the key players) why they havent been able to get their team anywhere near that level and make them wait for another two years now.

Can you draw the conclusion that Germany would be favorites against the USA now, based on how much better they have been against Sweden? (independent from whether they will meet or not)
No. Of course that is not the way football logic works. Based on the fact that Germany beat Brasil 7:1 and was on level with Argentina a few days later doesnt make Argentina even the favorites (let alone win 7:1) against Brasil in their next game, would it?
Nevertheless it was mainly the urgency of the offense towards the opposite goal where Germany seemed to be a level above the US so far in this tournament. And this was a difference not only showing in that one game against Sweden. The question is who will be able to better the Swedes in exploiting the gaps in the German defense that come with 4 mainly forward oriented players.

A little bit deeper: In the preview of this match I assumed that the elder states women coaches would not come up with fresh ideas. Even if you hardly can call it a fresh idea but theoretically the idea of Sundhage was not that bad at all. She really spotted that weakness at the defense of Germany well (though it was quite obvious) and tried to take advantage. Sitting a little bit deeper in midfield and trying to get space for Jakobsson and Schelin plus attacking the left wing of the german defense with the pace of Rubensson. Really a pity a good idea got that much punished. But you have to execute a plan well enough and to change it when you see it doesnt work. Ok, after it should have been already 2:0 after 5mins, as a coach you might think: The plan may need its time to settle. Still let us continue and try. The main problem: The link-up between the midfielders and especially between the back players and the midfield proofed to be absolutely catastrophic. Probably they never had a proper opponent to practise that formation in training. In defense the wing pairings Berglund – Rubensson on the right and Samuelsson – Sjögran on the left played like they should have practised a lot more to adjust their tuning much better. Especially on their right side the Germans had all the space they needed because Samuelsson after a few minutes realising the problems started to play extremely cautious sitting back far to deep and so often admitting Laudehr to run along the wing with a lot of freedom. And all that happened with nobody trying to improve or adapt. It seemed neither player nor coach showed any reaction. Usually the Swedes had Jakobsson in a 4 women midfield row to defend and only Schelin to stay up front with Sjögran more forward oriented but also helping the midfield in defense. Now using two players (Schelin and Jakobsson) staying up front is dangerous and only a few teams do that but if so your midfield organisation has to be very accurate.
And after a spell where the Swedes just seemed to get at least a little bit better into the game another problem became evident. Some Swedish midfield players were not used to build up play being intensely attacked by a number of decent players deep in their own half. If you try to sit deep and play defenders in your midfield then you have to play the ugly game if any danger is in sight. Kick the ball where you want but as far away from your own goal as possible. Sweden didnt – Germanys players had enough quality to setup a nice one-two and convert the fault. Decent goalkeeping could have come to the rescue. It did not: 1:0. Thank you.

And it should remain the only goal where the German players set up the goal scorer by a decent pass. A very questionable penalty. A kind post. A sliding tackling helped with the others. So the brilliance of Germany was significantly based on the weakness of Sweden.

Player of the match:
Goessling, because despite not a bad performance of Seger Goessling was the “boss” in midfield and the center of her team who played a key roll to put all the pieces together.

Player Ratings Germany (0-10)

Angerer 9
Stopped everything she could. Two difficult crosses and especially Jakobsson when she suddenly appeared in fornt of goal.

Maier 8
No problems on her side in the back. Lots of energy going forward. Could have done that a little bit more effectively.

Krahn 8
Not as easy for her as it seemed to be. Had to cover a lot of ground. No lost duel with either Schelin or Jakobsson.

Bartusiak 8
Copy and paste of the Krahn text.

Kemme 7
Very energetic performance with lots of interest going forward. But the only defender who lost out occasionally on Rubensson.

Goessling 9
The most central figur in the German team putting the right triggers at the right time.

Leupolz 7
Covered a lot of ground in midfield as usual and going up front as well. But then had not enough gas to finish properly.

Maroszan 8
Better than usual in defense. But not very effective up front either. The desire hitting the ball to her goal lifts her from 7 to 8.

Laudehr 8
Best game so far. Used the space given by the Swedes very nicely. Should only have finished one to get a 9.

Mittag 8
Her clinical finish was pivotal. Not so much to see from her in the second half though.

Popp 6
She will still be disappointed with herself. Could have been a 5 as well. But give her credit for taking part in putting pressure on Swedens defense

Sasic 8
Speedy reaction and a goal lifts her from 7 to 8

Player Ratings Sweden (0-10)

Lindahl 6
Ok, but not good enough for the first goal.

Fischer 5
Tried to stabilize the defense but that left her only caught in even more difficult situations she came out second best. A routined player should realise it is not her day and then get at least the easier jobs done.

Ilestedt 6
Focused on what she had to do and did that bit better than Fischer.

Samuelsson 5
She had the unfavourable task to play against Maier/Laudehr.

Nilsson 5
Continued exactly where Samuelsson left off.

Berglund 5
Dont know whether the reason she looked a little bit more stable in the defense was based on the fact she had the weaker opponent. Wouldnt have wanted to see how she would have done against Bremer eg.

Rubensson 6
Started at least something for Sweden in the first half. But nothing more in the second. Strange defensive play.

Seger 7
Also noticed too late how she should adapt to their “new” midfield where she had not many partners to play with and change strategy.

Sembrandt 6
Up one for the fine goal.

Sjögran 7
Pity to see her retire. Has she ever been so fit? Certainly not the last two years. If only all others had shown the same desire.

Schelin 5
Not lacking effort in this game. Simply could never beat Bartusiak nor Krahn who looked more stressed against Ivory Coast.

Jakobsson 6
Again the better compared to Schelin but should have finished one of the chances.

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