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2012 Olympics Match #3: Canada v. Sweden


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Canada v. Sweden

Newcastle, England

SportsDirect Arena (St James' Park)

2:30pm local time

9:30am EST, 6:30am Pacific

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We've been playing the Swedes regularly for a quarter century. We're 3-11-1 against them, but 2-2 in our last four games in the past 18 months.

Ironically a few months ago I posted this:

"Heading into the GB2012 Olympics, Sweden's World Cup bronze medalist central defending duo is in disarray. Their #2 Rohlin just blew her right knee and is gone and her central partner is trying to come back from long-term rehab and won't be 100% or firing on all cylinders."

Well, as Alanis Morissette would say, isn't it ironic, don't you think?

Sweden is a grudge match for players like Matheson, Sinclair, Timko, LeBlanc, Wilkinson, McLeod and Moscato. Their late two goals in seven minutes in 2003 denied us a World Cup final that those women have been chasing ever since. On the Swedish side, the only remnant from that team is substitute Sofia Lundgren.

The Swedes beat South Africa 4-1 in their opener and then tied the Japanese 0-0. Their impact players would be defender Sara Thunebro, Caroline Seger in the middle, the highest paid player in the world Lotta Schelin up front, and their goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl. Their captain Nilla Fischer scored their first goal of the tournament but sat out against Japan nursing a hamstring.

Seger is the engine and was captain of the 2011 WPS champions Western New York Flash playing alongside Christine Sinclair and Candace Chapman. Schelin is big, quick, skilled and very experienced around net. The Swedish comparison would be Ibrahimovic. She's coming off a Champions League title two months ago and bagged two against South Africa.

Sweden also has danger off the bench with a couple of young very savvy strikers.

In both games Sweden has come out hard and fast from the opening kickoff. They were up 3-0 on South Africa in twenty minutes, and they carried the play against Japan denying them possession into their third. After being denied the center of the field in the first half by a compact Swedish defense, the Japanese played wide into the attack in the second half with better results.

Japan play severe ball control and weren't clinical in the box but couldn't solve the Swedes. So it will be interesting to see what the Swedes do Tuesday. Considering they have a 1-0 lead on us going into the game, one option they could employ would be to play the same numbers-back solid defending and countering game they played against Japan. Another would be to release a bit and try and control the midfield to provide better quality service to Schelin.

If the game settles into a cautious posture and is tight and one-goal-either-way going into the last 20 minutes, like a decade ago it's going to be an intense and full on battle of wills. And I know seven players who are hopefully communicating to the other 11 being the one who has to score is hell on earth.

Edited by Vic
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Sweden looked very tough against Japan and after our games I'm not optimistic. Sinclair is a good player but she'll be marked tightly and doesn't get good service. The rest of them are just going to have to step it up and exploit whatever space is available from the extra marking on Sinclair.

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From FIFA.com today:

When Canada and Sweden locked horns in the final round of group games at Beijing 2008, Lotta Schelin scored twice to give the Scandinavian side a 2-1 win, condemning the North Americans to a quarter-final tie against neighbours and eventual champions USA. Will the Swedish hotshot prove their undoing again on Tuesday?

Another possibility not mentioned by anyone: a tie and we're automatically in the quarters on points.

Sweden are exceptionally large favourites at even money (1-1). Canada is 3-1. The tie is about 2.5-1. Given Sweden only needs a tie, you would think betting the straight-up win would be risky. But apparently the market thinks they're that much better than Canada that they'll defeat us easily even without the motivation of needing to win.

http://www.oddschecker.com/olympics/football/womens/canada-women-v-sweden-women/winner

Win, lose or draw we'll sweat our quarter-final opponent for five hours as NZ/Cameroon and GB/Brazil both kickoff on the late card tomorrow. We'll find out about 4:30pm EST / 1:30pm Pacific (21:30 in Conventry).

Edited by Vic
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Another possibility not mentioned by anyone: a tie and we're automatically in the quarters on points.
I mentioned it in the "non-Canada" thread. In fact, I also mentioned that we'll probably get through even with a small loss (not that I'm advocating it as a strategy, but it's something to keep in mind).

Will CTV show the game tomorrow?
No, Sportsnet. (Also, TSN has coverage of the later matches on their schedule -- apparently USA vs. North Korea and Great Britain vs. Brazil.)
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Same two culprits as in Japan match...............Wilkinson and McLeod with mistakes.

You took the words out of my mouth. LeBlanc is not much better. Would like to see Labbe back on the team. Younger and better blood and that goes for the oldies as well.

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