Sweden to face Netherlands refreshed after ‘gamble’


DUIVEN: 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.

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

“Those two players, they are very important for us so they actuallygot 45 minutes’ rest. I think that’s crucial for the game in the quarter-final,” said Sundhage.