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EURO 2013

EURO 2013

Swedish women intent on Euro 2013 glory

The host nation are among the favourites to claim the Uefa Women's European Championship, with kick-off on Wednesday when Sweden takes on Nordic neighbour Denmark.

Swedish women intent on Euro 2013 glory

Sweden’s women’s football team is intent on capitalizing on home advantage to claim Euro 2013.

The football tournament is set to attract large crowds across the country with matches being played in seven different locations.

“It feels like this Euro is our Euro,” striker Sofia Jakobsson told Uefa.com.

Coach Pia Sundhage’s side are third favourites for the crown trailing France and current champs Germany. Sweden claimed the bronze at last year’s Olympic Games, where the gold was won by the United States, who were then coached by Sundhage.

“She has brought a lot of good energy, to get all the players to show what they are capable of, even more than before,” said Jakobsson, who is the top scorer in the FA Women’s Super League for Chelsea’s ladies.

Sweden’s preparations for the tournament were thrown into jeopardy when assistant coach Birger Jacobsson quit on the eve of the tournament. The side have been in impressive form, however, beating England 4-1 in a recent friendly.

Anita Asante, an England international who plays her club football for Gothenburg in western Sweden, said the women’s game attracts a lot of interest in her adopted country.

“Swedes are very passionate about the game and the domestic league is well supported with big games hosting 2-3,000 supporters,” she told the BBC. “No doubt they will have the whole country behind them, so they will be strong contenders.”

The Swedes won the inaugural ladies Uefa European Championship in 1984, but haven’t reached the final since 2001. Germany have won the last five tournaments and are strong favourites with the bookmakers.

Playing at home is a source of inspiration for the players said forward Jakobsson.

“To experience a Euro at home and be a part of it, and you have to smile every time you think about it. It feels super great.”

The hosts have been drawn in Group A with Italy, Denmark and Finland and will play their matches in Gothenburg and Halmstad. The final will be played in the new Friends Arena in Solna, north Stockholm on July 28th.

Patrick Reilly

Follow Patrick on Twitter here

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FOOTBALL

Sundhage: The times they are a changin’ for Sweden

Sweden coach Pia Sundhage is hoping for a change of luck against old foes Germany to win her third consecutive women's football gold medal in Friday's final.

Sundhage: The times they are a changin' for Sweden
Sweden football coach Pia Sundhage meets the press in Rio. Photo: Tobias Röstlund/TT
Two-time world champions Germany have an impressive record against Sweden, winning all three previous Olympic meetings between the sides in 2000, 2004 and 2008, as well as a 4-1 thrashing at last year's World Cup.
 
“They have been winning against us too many times. They have to lose some time, hopefully it is tomorrow,” said a cheerful Sundhage, who ended her press conference Thursday by singing a line from Bob Dylan classic “The Times They Are A Changin'.”
 
Sundhage led the USA to gold in 2008 and 2012, but insists a third title with her native Sweden will mean more given the limited expectations of a side that only reached the quarter-finals by finishing as one of the two best third-placed sides in the group stages.
 
“It is one thing for the US to play under such pressure. There were so many people expecting US to win the gold.”
 
“When we started this road for Olympic qualification in March not many people expected us to be here.”
 
“Tomorrow will be the very best experience I have had with an Olympic gold medal.”
 
Germany coach Silvia Neid will take charge of the national team for the final time after 11 years at the Maracana.
 
“What can be nicer than have your last game playing for the gold medal and playing in this fantastic stadium,” said Neid, who will resume a three-decade long rivalry with Sundhage dating back to their playing careers.
 
However, she refused to try and out-sing her Swedish counterpart.
 
“I can't sing. I can dance, but I need Pia to do the music.”