Swedes prepared for Spain’s mix of US and Japan, says Bjorn


Sweden defender Natalie Bjorn believes her side’s wins over former champions the United States and Japan will serve as the perfect preparation for their FIFA World Cup semi-final clash with Spain at Eden Park in Auckland on Tuesday.

The Swedes defeated the United States, winners of the last two editions of the Women’s World Cup, in a penalty shoot-out in the last 16 before holding on to record a 2-1 victory over 2011 winners Japan to set up the semi-final meeting against Spain.

“We know that they have some very good individuals, but as a team they are also very, very good,” Bjorn said.

“I think it’s good that we played against Japan and the U.S. before this game, because it feels like Spain is a little bit of a mix between them too, and with the possession that they want to keep and the physical side from the U.S.

“So I feel like we are better prepared.”

The Swedes were not among the favoured nations to win the Women’s World Cup prior to kick-off despite reaching the final of the Olympic Games tournament in Japan in 2021, where they suffered a narrow defeat to Canada.

Of the four nations left in the tournament Sweden have the strongest pedigree at the Women’s World Cup, having previously reached the semi-finals on four occasions.

They have only advanced to the final once, however, when they lost to Germany in the final in 2003 in the United States. Many in the current squad featured in the side that reached the semi-finals of last year’s Women’s Euros in England.

“I think in this tournament we need to play as we have been doing,” Bjorn said.

“We almost have (a) similar squad to what we had last time, so I think with that experience that we have, I think that will help us go through the semi-final.

“(Reaching the final) would mean everything, like every hour, every second, every minute you put in, the hard work every last year … through everything in life.

“You play because you want to play this big game, so you want to win. So it would mean the world to me.”

Source: RNZ