FOOTBALL: Listless Germany falls to Sweden, 2-1, as Dutch women also advance to semis

Joy for Sweden's Sofia Jakobsson after scoring against Germany! (Photo: FIFA)

The all-European quarterfinals day at the 2019 Women’s World Cup turned out to be a stunner, with Sweden showing more emotion, drive and tactics to defeat Germany, 2-1, and advance to the semis against the Netherlands.

The Germans opened the scoring with a line drive from Lina Magull in the 17th minute, but Sweden tied it just five minutes later on a Sofia Jakobsson goal, following a long outlet pass that allowed Jakobsson to run past most of the German defense.

Before the match, Sweden coach Peter Gerhardsson said, “We will probably have to accept that the ball possession is nothing we should try to win, but instead try to hurt them with deep balls and a lot of runs between their players to create chances, and then we need to be just as effective as we were against Canada.”

He was so right. After the Jakobsson goal, Germany had the ball, but Sweden had the chances on break-out after break-out. At the half, Germany had 57% of the possession, but the score (1-1) and the shots (6-6) were even.

The second half started as an extension of the first, with the Swedes attacking and Germany unable to get any meaningful chances. Then, a save by Germany’s Almuth Schult off of Fridolina Rolfo’s header left a rebound on front of the net and Stina Blackstenius tapped it in for a 2-1 lead just three minutes into the final period.

You would expect a furious response from Germany, but it never came. Increasingly desperate, there were more shots, but the Swedes were organized and as offensive-minded as the Germans. While the conditions may have been a factor – almost 90 degrees F at the Stade du Hainaut in Valenciennes, it was the same for both sides, and the Germans just looked tired and almost uninterested.

Even with six minutes of stoppage time, it wasn’t enough for the favorites and the Swedes claimed a 2-1 win, their first over Germany in a major tournament in more than two decades.

The Germans ended with 59% possession, but only a 13-12 edge in shots and underlined how dangerous Sweden is in this tournament.

They will play the Netherlands, which dominated its quarter against punchless Italy, 2-0.

This game was scoreless through the first half, with the Dutch controlling the ball (60% possession) and getting off 15 shots to just four for Italy. The breakthough came in the 70th minute off a free kick from Sherida Spitse that was headed in by Vivianne Miedema for a 1-0 lead.

In the 80th minute, Spitse sent another free kick toward the Italian goal and this time it was Stefanie van der Gragt with the header for a 2-0 lead and safe passage to the semifinals. The Dutch ended with a 21-6 advantage in shots that was illustrative of the game as it was played.

The semifinals will be on 2 July (ENG-USA) and 3 July (NED-SWE), with the U.S. now an overwhelming favorite to win:

● 4/5 United States
● 4/1 England
● 5/1 Netherlands
● 15/2 Sweden

More fun with odds here.