Sweden Kicks Off World Cup Action Today

Outdoors & Sports

Sweden Kicks Off World Cup Action Today

The Swedish women’s soccer team opens World Cup play today against Chile. Here’s a primer to get ready for all the action.

The competition: Sweden opens against Chile today in Group F pay. Its group also includes Thailand and the United States. Sweden faces Thailand on June 16 and the United States on June 20.

When last we saw them: The Swedes earned the silver at the 2016 Olympics, knocking off the United States along the way. That win, which came on penalty kicks, prompted a lot of back and forth between the United States and Swedes, setting up a must-watch match on June 20.

World Cup history: Sweden made the round of 16 at the 2015 Women’s World Cup. Its best recent finishes were third in 2011 and runner-up in 2003, when it beat Brazil and Canada to reach the final against Germany – the Germans won 2-1 on a goal in the 98th minute.

Who’s gone: Among the faces who you won’t see over the next few weeks are coach Pia Sundhage, who led the Swedes from 2012-17. Peter Gerhardsson takes over for Sundhage. And Lotta Schelin, one of the most decorated Swedish soccer players who played in the previous three World Cups, will just be a fan this time around. The leading goal-scorer in Swedish history, Schelin retired in 2018.

Who to watch: We gave readers the heads up in April to watch these five ladies: Caroline Seger, Nilla Fischer, Hedvig Lindahl, Lisa Dahlkvist and Kosovare Asllani. Of note, Asllani is key to the Swedes’ offensive attack and is the team’s active leader in goals. Fisher was ranked the 22nd best player in the World Cup by ESPN.com, the only Swede to make the list. The Guardian suggests we should keep an eye on Sofia Jakobsson as the player who will surprise.

The prediction: The stat-crazy FiveThirtyEight.com gives Sweden a 4 percent chance of winning the World Cup, as France and the United States are the favorites. We expect that the United States and Swedes will emerge from Group F. We like the Swedes to make a run like their male counterparts, but maybe not quite as far. We see them reaching the quarterfinals with an outside shot of making the semifinals.

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