The 2016 Olympic silver medalist was a sensation.
Five years later, the final is just an intermediate goal.
In Tokyo, the Swedish women’s soccer team will win its first title at the World Championships.
We miss gold. This is the only thing. I can’t afford to color a medal or anything like that, says captain Caroline Seeger before the Olympic final against Canada.
A lot can happen in five years. Britain jumps out of cooperation with the European Union, Donald Trump is voted out and out of the White House, a global Mito movement washes up somewhere in the middle, and someone captures a black hole in the photo for the first time.
In five years, you will also have time to change the football team.
Sweden entered the Olympic Stadium on Friday for the second consecutive final of the Olympic Games. But the feeling before the gold game against Canada is very different than it was in 2016.
“I’ve been in the final before but it feels different, everyone seems to be in such good shape that there’s only one thing to take with us from here,” says captain Caroline Seeger.
At Rio five years ago, Sweden won a surprising silver medal with a tactic that largely revolved around neutralizing opponents’ attacks and then launching the counterattack. It was no coincidence that the winners of both the quarter-finals against the United States and the semi-finals against Brazil came after penalties.
Today, the Swedish national team behaves differently on the field, so the chance of getting gold has never been greater, says midfielder Kosovare Aslani.
– What I am most proud of is the way we play football. We are a skilled national team, and we showed that throughout the tournament. “We have beaten many of the best teams in the world, and now we are one of them,” Aslani says.
We had very good players in 2016 as well, but we had a different idea of the game. I think the team we put on the field now is generally better than what we had back then. He impressed us throughout the tournament, and for us the only thing that matters is gold.
‘A tough team to play against’
Friday’s final opponent Canada could be considered the surprise tournament. But with two consecutive Olympic bronzes, the world number eight is not a team to be underestimated.
The last meeting was in the round of 16 of the 2019 World Cup finals, with a narrow 1-0 victory from Sweden.
– I remember clearly that match, that we had a very difficult time against them. Hale Magdalena Ericsson says it’s a tough team to play against, they haven’t conceded many goals but they haven’t scored much either going forward.
Half the work done
But the thing about this Swedes is that it doesn’t really matter who’s in the second half. The 3-0 win at the Olympic bid against world champions USA showed that national team captain Peter Gerhardsson had put together a team that was no longer afraid of anyone.
– So you always talk about wanting a gold or gold medal when you go away. But it seems to have permeated everything we did and all the matches. That way it looks different, says Caroline Seeger.
– We miss the gold. This is the only thing. I can’t dye a medal or anything like that.
After the victory over the United States at the premiere, Caroline Seeger joked that her younger teammates are now allowed to rank up that gold medal she still lacks. Aside from the gold medal at the European Championships in 1984 – when only four countries participated – the Swedish national football team has not won a major tournament.
What does the captain say to his teammates before the final?
– They did half the work. Of course, it’s great to be a part of this journey. I am 36 years old and you are left with that little thing you weren’t allowed to try.
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