The United States women's national team is kicks off their Olympics as part of Group G alongside Australia, New Zealand, and Sweden. For their first match of the Olympic games, team USA will square off against their long time European rivals Sweden on July 21 at Tokyo Stadium in Japan. The match between the two sides is billed as one of the most competitive matches among the 12 teams participating in the Olympics. Let's take a closer look at the team who many consider will give the USWNT the most trouble during the Tokyo games.
Who are Sweden and why are they a USWNT rival?
The simple answer is because they're a straight up good soccer team. The longer answer is that they're a straight up good soccer team with history against the USWNT. The team famously eliminated the USWNT on penalty kicks during the quarterfinals in the 2016 Rio games and went on the earn the silver medal. They were also semifinalists in the 2019 World Cup They are ranked fifth overall in the FIFA world rankings, fourth among UEFA rankings, and the Tokyo games will mark their seventh Olympic appearance.
The two teams will be meeting for the 42nd time overall and for the third time in the Olympics, and while the USWNT has a strong record of 23 wins, 12 draws and only six losses, previous games between the two sides often end in narrow score lines. The USWNT and Sweden met earlier this year back in April, and the two teams played to a 1-1 draw. Not only will this be the two sides third meeting in the Olympics but they have also met in five consecutive World Cups.
Sweden is 4-0-2 in 2021 and unbeaten in its last eight matches dating back to the resumption of play in October 2020 following the stoppage for the coronavirus pandemic. Sweden opened the year with a 6-1 win over Austria and a 3-0 victory over Malta in February, then tied the USA 1-1 in Stockholm in April before traveling to Poland for a 4-2 victory. Sweden also beat Norway 1-0 and tied Australia 0-0 in June to round out its official competitions before the Olympics.
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Players to keep an eye on
Nine players from Sweden's 2016 Olympic Roster are back for the 2020 competition, headlined by midfielder Caroline Seger, who is the nation's all-time caps leader with 215 international appearances.
Midfielder Kosovare Asllani is an offensive lynch pin type player for the team who has 38 goals for her country. Wingback Hanna Glas is impressive out on the flanks, and winger Fridolina Rolfo is a scoring threat for the team with 14 goals. Magdalena Eriksson is a top center back who plays in England for Chelsea and Hedvig Lindahl is the elite goalkeeper holding things down in the net.
Sweden has a top professional league, and their roster features 12 players playing for elite clubs across the country. Additionally seven players are on teams that won titles in their respective leagues across Europe last season.
Three players play in England for reigning champions Chelsea FC, two in Spain with Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid, and five in Germany with Bayern Munich and Wolfsburg. Lina Hurtig is the sole player in Italy with league champions Juventus. Defender Julia Roddar is the only player based in the USA where she plays for the Washington Spirit.
Sweden Olympic Women's Full Soccer Roster
Goallkeepers: 12-Jennifer Falk (Hacken), 1-Hedvig Lindahl (Atletico Madrid, Spain), 22-Zecira Musovic (Chelsea, England)
Defenders: 2-Jonna Andersson (Chelsea, England), 14-Nathalie Bjorn (Rosengard), 6-Magdalena Eriksson (Chelsea, England), 4-Hanna Glas (Bayern Munich, Germany), 13-Amanda Ilestedt (Bayern Munich, Germany), 3-Emma Kullberg (Hacken)
Midfielders: 9-Kosovare Asllani (Real Madrid, Spain), 16-Filippa Angeldal (Hacken), 5-Hanna Bennison (Rosengard), 8-Lina Hurtig (Juventus, Italy), 20-Julia Roddar (Washington Spirit), 17-Caroline Seger (Rosengard)
Forwards: 19-Anna Anvegard (Rosengard), 11-Stina Blackstenius (Hacken), 21-Rebecka Blomqvist (Wolfsburg), 10-Sofia Jakobsson (Real Madrid, Spain), 7-Madelen Janogy (Hammarby), 18-Fridolina Rolfo (Wolfsburg, Germany), 15-Olivia Schough (Rosengard)