In Praise of Swedish Women (WWC thread)

I should start with the standard SPOILERS disclaimer.

So, just finished watching the second half of the Sweden v Brazil match. The Swedes did a fine job in dispatching a Brazilian side that gets better every time around. The Brazilians are in a youth movement and the style of their game really reflects a lot of what you see in their men’s game. Speed and trickery, and sometimes a little slack on defense. Sweden scored the winner on a brilliant set piece kick from just outside the box, to the right of the penalty arc. Kick went over the wall and dipped down into the upper right hand corner of the goal, just past the diving attempt from the Brazilian keeper. I thought that the Swedes did well to stick to their game plan, which seemed to be a stifling defense and a quick build up to counter attack. Katia, one of the Brazilian star forwards, didn’t get a single shot on goal. In fact the Brazilian goal came on a penalty kick. Brazil wasn’t called for many fouls but received three or so yellow cards, and could have easily received a couple more. They are a very physical team and use their knees and elbows a bit much for my liking. The more annoying part is that they seem to dive and cry a lot when they get brushed.

Again, kudos to the Swedes for their well earned victory. Now the USA and Norway matchup in about an hour, also at Foxboro. Should be a nice cold night for a game.

Just as an update, now I have to sing the praises of the US women and the Norwegian goalkeeper. Not the best game for Team USA, but a win is a win. Brutal match, lots of blood. Cindy Parlow kicked one of the Norsk defenders in the mouth (I thought it merited a yellow), lots of rough collisions from both sides. Mia Hamm hit a fairly mediocre try at a penalty kick. Abby Wambach was probably woman of the match and scored the only goal, plus created several other chances for the US side.

Norway has also been eliminated from the Olympics because they can’t finish any higher than third among European teams. That’s pretty disappointing for Norway.

I’m rooting for the US, but I have to say the PK called on Nordby was crap. She did her best to avoid Wambach and barely touched her after Wambach had headed the ball on goal. The officiating throughout the tournament has been questionable especially on penalty kicks.

I only saw highlights of the Sweden game, but both goals were very nice.

Zoff, I agree that the PK on Norby was crap. Contact was clearly after the ball went through and Wambach had no chance to catch up to it. There has been a lot of mediocre and inconsistent refereeing throughout.

Right now Sweden and USA are through. Russia v Germany and China v Canada. How does that leave Norway out of the tournament. I mean they only lost 1-0 against the 1 seed, ferchrissakes! Regardless, basing Olympics berths off of this tournament seems sort of strange. It’s not like they’re not playing all of the time. Why not a small tournament in Europe to advance to the Olympics?

I’ll be darned, so did I.

Very nice free kick by Sweden, curved it around the defenders and into the top right corner.

Nordby was fantastic in the second game. (How often does player-of-the-match go to someone on the losing side?) 1 - 0 makes it sound closer than it was, Norway didn’t get off a really good shot all night.

A little ragged for the U.S. Hamm missed on the penalty kick but she did have some very good corner kicks; good position, but couldn’t quite get one of them into the net. Great defense, moved the ball upfield well; it was just hard to get anything past Nordby all night.

And you’re right, Shibb, it was a little chilly.

ShibbOleth: I definitely agree with the assessment that the Swedes out-played Brazil, but I think Katia earned a second PK at the end when she was taken down from behind. She was about to make an inside move to beat the keeper when she got a fore-arm in the back. It was only a 50:50 chance that she would have beat the keeper, but it was a clear foul from behind.

BR: I agree that on replay it looked like a foul, but either the ref missed the call because of her angle, or she was reluctant to call it after all of the dives the Brasilieras were taking. Kind of dumb on the Swedish defender’s part, but in this case she got lucky. I’d rather Katia try the shot from the angle she had, with a defender on her heels, than risk surrending a PK.

RA: Glad you got to see the games in person. I was at Foxboro in 1994 for the Italy/Nigeria match, which was a lot of fun. Took my kids to two of the three double headers in Columbus and was somewhat surprised with how enthusiastic they were.

I missed most of the Russia v Germany game. Again Germany seemed big and dominant (my wife thought we’d showed up for the wrong match when she saw the German players on the field in Columbus). In the first half the lead was 1-0 (I missed seeing most of the goals), but it was always as if the Russian applecart would be upset at any moment. I came downstairs partway through the second half, for just a few minutes, and next thing I knew the Germans had added 4 goals. The only point worth making is that the German left defender maybe should have received a red card instead of a yellow when she tackled the Russian who was breaking past her for a sure one-on-one with the keeper. Otherwise the Germans have really been the dominant team in this tournament thus far, and really have a shot at beating (I won’t say upset) the defending champions USA in the semifinal. Game is on Sunday night at 7:30 Eastern time in Portland. I’m fairly certain that there will be tickets available if any NW Dopers want to attend.

I saw a lot more of the China-Canada match than the early match. China continued to look sluggish and seems as if they are 2-3 key players from being in top form. Canada scored early on a header by defender Charmane Cooper, who may well have been offsides on the play. Unfortunately ESPN2 really has little concept of covering a match, and regardless of the amount of onfield experience they have, both of their in-booth announcers are clueless about nuance. None of the replays showed a clear angle on this, but in one replay of the goal, from a field level camera you can clearly see the lineswoman running back through the camera shot well after the kick was taken. So she was obviously out of position to make a judgement on an offsides call. If anyone saw it in person I’d love an independent analysis of the play. Cooper was thuggish and less than charming in the rest of the game, drawing a yellow card for harassing the referee over a foul she committed, so I kind of hope she was offsides.
The Canadians didn’t really pose many more threats to the Chinese, but the Chinese were unable to close on any of there abundant opportunities, often doing a decent job to get close, then being stifled by the last defender, floating harmless crosses, or dribbling ineffective shots in on the Canadian keeper who had everything well accounted for. The one good chance the Chinese did have was in the 82nd minute, when a cross in from the right wing cleared over the keeper. Sun Wen was a bit too late and her left wing missed a relatively easy tap-in header which would have equalised. All in all the ‘Steel Roses’ have truly become the ‘Rusty Roses’.

It will be interesting to watch the Sweden-Canada matchup. The two teams are similar in size and strength, the difference could be Sweden’s ability to mount a persistent attack.

For Germany-USA I think Germany may actually be the favorite, for a number of reasons that we’ll dive into before Sunday’s match.