Sweden coach Pia Sundhage admits 'gamble' at Women's Euro 2017

AFP - [email protected]
Sweden coach Pia Sundhage admits 'gamble' at Women's Euro 2017
Sweden coach Pia Sundhage. Photo: Björn Larsson Rosvall/TT

Facing hosts the Netherlands in the women's Euro quarter-finals on Saturday, Sweden are recovering from their surprise 3-2 loss to Italy, blaming it on a 'gamble' with the starting line-up.


After resting key defenders Nilla Fischer and Jessica Samuelsson and midfielder Lisa Dahlkvist, Sweden conceded their first three goals at the tournament in their final group game on Tuesday, all from crosses.

"I'm not satisfied with the defence, but at the same time that's on me because we changed the back four quite a bit to rest some legs," Sweden coach Pia Sundhage told AFP on Wednesday.

To advance, Sweden needed help from holders Germany, who have won the last six tournaments and eight overall, and who played against Russia at the same time.

Germany won 2-0 after two penalties and Sundhage suggested that she had not expected anything else, speaking about a little 'gamble' when she left her stars on the bench.

"We need some fresh legs, you have to remember that Holland have an extra day to rest," said Sundhage.

"At the end of the day we are qualified for the quarter-final and we could gamble a little bit, and hopefully we did the right thing," added the coach,who played for Sweden when they won their only European title in 1984.

READ ALSO: Sweden narrowly progress to Women's Euro 2017 quarter-finals

At half-time, Sundhage also substituted key midfielders Kosovare Asllani and Caroline Seger.

"Those two players, they are very important for us so they actually got 45 minutes' rest. I think that's crucial for the game in the quarter-final," said Sundhage.

Against the Netherlands, Sweden will face a potent attack led by 21-year-old Vivianne Miedema at the centre and Lieke Martens and Shanice van de Sanden on the wings.

With this in mind, Sundhage may want to go back to the back four she used in Sweden's win against Russia, with Fischer and Linda Sembrant in the centre and Magdalena Ericsson and Samuelsson as full-backs.

"We haven't decided yet but for sure we have more options now when we have fresh legs," said Sundhage.

She also dismissed the idea of woman-to-woman marking for Miedema, who has not scored at the tournament yet but has an international record of more than a goal per two games and is crucial for the Dutch.

"We play zonal defending, we're not a team that would just mark a player, that would change our style way too much in the defence so that will not happen," she said.

Swedish defender Linda Sembrant said she was ready to take on the new Arsenal signing.

"We need to be tight on her," said the Montpellier player.

"We're following our structure in defence, but we need to look out for her."

She did not hide her frustration at the loss to Italy, in which she knocked down the ball for Daniela Sabatino to score the first on just four minutes.

"Of course yesterday was frustrating with those goals, they punished us with the counter-attack a little bit there," Sembrant told AFP.

"At the same time we know we're really good at defending so we need to find that. Overall, we're in the quarter-final and that's what we wanted."


Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also