Sweden overcame an early 1- 0 deficit to defeat Germany in the Women’s World Cup quarterfinals, eliminating the side that had been favored to reach the final on their side of the bracket.
The loss marked the first time since 1995 that Germany had lost to Sweden in a major tournament.
Sweden Overcomes Tight German Defense
Germany looked like it would continue its domination over the Swedes early. Lina Magull opened the scoring in the 16th minute, playing a volley past keeper Hedvig Lindahl to give the Germans a 1-0 lead.
But surprisingly, that lead wouldn’t last for long. Just six minutes later, Linda Sembrant connected with Sofia Jakobsson on a long ball right down the heart of the German defense, tying the match 1-1. It marked the first goal that Germany had allowed in the 2019 Women’s World Cup.
The game remained tied until early in the second half. Germany subbed in Dzsenifer Marozsan, the star midfielder who broke her toe in Germany’s first match of the tournament, in the hope of turning around the momentum in the match. But instead, it was Sweden’s Stina Blackstenius who would score just three minutes into the second half, taking a rebound off a diving save from German keeper Almuth Schult and calming placing the ball into the open net.
Germany would have opportunities to score in the second half, but the tying goal never came, and Sweden ended the match as deserving 2-1 winners.
“We had one, two good chances to equalize but did not manage it. That’s a real shame,” Magull said afterwards. “We knew they had fast players and wanted to defend high up the pitch. That brings the danger of conceding on the counter, which had happened before the break.”
The upset had implications that go beyond the Women’s World Cup. Only the top three European teams in the tournament will earn qualifying spots for the 2020 Summer Olympics. That means the three remaining semifinalists – Germany, England (which will make up the core of a Great Britain team for the Olympic Games), and the Netherlands – are in, while Germany and France are out.
“A good sign is that we’re now qualified for the Olympics, which was hanging over our heads for a while,” Sweden manager Peter Gerhardsson said after the match. “Now we don’t have to worry about it. There’s not a single cell in us that’s content with this. We’re going to go for it.”
USA Favored Over European Contenders
Sweden will now face the Netherlands on Wednesday, after the Dutch side scored a 2-0 win over Italy thanks to two late goals scored off headers. That game will likely be overshadowed by the other semifinal on Tuesday, in which the No. 1 ranked United States – which beat host France 2-1 on Friday – will take on England, which has won both of its knockout stage matches 3-0.
While the United States is now the clear favorite to win the Women’s World Cup, England – ranked third in the FIFA rankings – is the second choice, and the winner of that semifinal will definitely head into the final as the team to beat.
According to FanDuel Sportsbook, the USA (-130) is now a slight favorite over the field to win the tournament, but England (+380), the Netherlands (+450), and Sweden (+650) are all considered threats to upset the Americans.