Sweden head coach Peter Gerhardsson admits he may have to conjure a very special game plan after being called up against hosts England in the Euro 2022 semi-finals.
The tournament’s top-ranked team meet the Lionesses at Bramall Lane on Tuesday night after needing a last-minute win in Friday’s unconvincing 1-0 win over Belgium.
“We will have a plan,” Gerhardsson said of taking over the side from Sarina Wiegman in Sheffield. “I don’t know at the moment what we’re going to invent.
“But I can assure you that we will have a plan – and we need a good plan, we need a very good plan, and maybe we need an extremely, very good plan. It’s a really good team. That will be an interesting challenge.”
The quarterfinals will end on Saturday night with defending champions Netherlands and France for the right to face Germany.
Sweden was sweating
Sweden were only saved from tense extra time against the stubborn Belgians after defender Linda Sembrant scored two minutes into injury time at the Leigh Sports Village.
Ruled out for offside after a VAR check after a first-half goal from Stina Blackstenius, the 1984 European champions dominated the action but squandered a multitude of chances before exuding a mixture of relief and celebration at the end.
Sweden’s Magdalena Eriksson admitted a nervous night had been a tough mental challenge and showed she was close to tears after scoring the crucial goal.
The Chelsea defender – one of eight WSL players in Gerhardsson’s squad – knows her side need a quick physical recovery as they have two days less than England to prepare for next week’s crucial clash.
“I know all the players they have, they’re extremely talented players, so we really have to focus on that,” she said. “Now it’s about recovering, getting fresh again and then tackling it.
“It will be an extremely difficult game for us. England have been amazing so far in the tournament.”
Lionesses ready to roar
England go into the last four with a stunning 2-1 comeback win over Spain, secured by a superb goal from Georgia Stanway, and hope to thrill another roaring home crowd.
Midfielder Keira Walsh revealed she can’t wait to belt out another hair-raising rendition of the national anthem.
The 25-year-old thinks singing “God Save The Queen” best sums up the growing excitement at the Lionesses’ chances of winning their first major trophy.
“You can hear it reverberating around the stadium and it’s a very special feeling that we’ve never experienced before because we haven’t had a home tournament,” said Manchester City player Walsh.
“It gives you that little extra boost.”
The Dutch Star Gunner is ready?
Attention returns to Rotherham on Saturday night, with the possible return of Vivianne Miedema a big topic of conversation ahead of the delicious encounter between the Dutch and the French at New York Stadium.
Prolific Dutch striker Miedema missed her country’s last two group games due to Covid-19 but could be back at the forefront of her attack once training resumes.
Head coach Mark Parsons offered an upbeat update on the Arsenal star on Friday.
“I’m spreading as much positive energy and optimism as I can, but we’ll have to see,” he said. “There’s a chance she’s available because things are going well, but we need to tick those last few boxes.”
“Underdogs” France wants to make history
France have reached the quarterfinals for the fourth time in a row, but they have never advanced.
Les Bleues defeated the Netherlands 3-1 in a friendly in February but head coach Corinne Diacre insists her side are underdogs as she tries to make a little piece of history.
“The Netherlands are defending champions and if one of us is a favourite, they should be,” she said. “As everyone keeps telling us, we never got past the quarter-finals so we can hardly be favourites.”
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Quarterfinals: France v Netherlands (8pm, New York Stadium, Rotherham)
https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/england-sweden-lionesses-vivianne-miedema-keira-walsh-b2129582.html Sweden coach Peter Gerhardsson is aiming for a “very good plan” for the game against England