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SYDNEY, Australia – The penultimate stage of a major tournament is familiar territory for Sweden, and although it has failed to clear that hurdle several times recently, that strong pedigree could serve it well against Spain in their FIFA Women’s World Cup semifinal.
The two teams will vie for a spot in the final at Auckland’s Eden Park on Tuesday, August 15, setting up a showdown in Sydney with either co-hosts Australia or European champions England for the chance to be crowned a first-time World Cup winner.
“It’s going to be a high-pressure Spain and high-pressure Sweden,” Sweden coach Peter Gerhardsson said. “For me, it’s lovely football.”
Sweden is the highest-ranked nation remaining – at world No. 3 – and is appearing at its fifth World Cup semifinal. The Swedes have played in all nine editions but only reached the final once, when they lost to Germany in 2003.
The Scandinavians have not won a major trophy since the inaugural 1984 Euros, when only four teams took part. They also reached the semifinals of last year’s Euros and the 2019 World Cup, and have been runners-up at the last two Olympics.
Sweden won all three group games this tournament and dispatched two World Cup winners – the United States and Japan – in the knockouts. It will be confident of continuing that momentum against Spain, which has never reached the last four of the showpiece tournament.
“We have the benefit of experience,” captain Kosovare Asllani said. “We have gone far in the last few tournaments but I am particularly pleased with the way we have done it this time.”
“We have won our matches in different ways and it shows the strength of this team.”
Spain’s only previous semifinal appearance at a major tournament was at the 1997 Euros. It made its World Cup debut in 2015 and its best result prior to this tournament was a last 16 exit four years ago.
After seeing off 2019 runners-up Netherlands, the Spanish are now one win away from a first final, less than a year after 15 players staged a revolt against long-serving coach Jorge Vilda and threatened to quit if he was not fired.
Spain is winless in 11 meetings against Sweden – none of which were at a World Cup – and has lost seven of those games. The teams drew 1-1 in a friendly last October in Cordoba.
“If you don’t feel any nerves before a game like this then something is not right,” veteran forward Jenni Hermoso said. “It gives you goosebumps thinking about how close we are to the final … Spain will come out more determined than ever.”
“We have worked so hard to get here … I want the whole team to enjoy it and for the whole of Spain to be behind us.” – Rappler.com