Germany was the clear favorite before the game. They had the best run without a defeat of any team in the competition. Even though influential Lyon playmaker Dzsenifer Marozsán was injured in the Group Stage, Germany managed to top Group B with 9 points and three clean sheets. They brushed away Nigeria easily in the Round of 16, and the German team started to dream for a ticket to the final.
Sweden finished second in their group after losing their final game deservedly to the United States. They impressed against Canada, however, winning 1-0 after club-less goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl saved a penalty kick. Despite that showing against the Canadians, many believed Germany would be too big of a test for them.
If one adds the fact that Sweden also had not beaten Germany in a tournament in 24 years, Sweden was definitely the underdog. But that did not faze the Swedish side. Throughout the game, Sweden played extremely well and, in the end, deserved the victory. Germany’s only goal came against the run of play as Sweden impressed the first fifteen minutes, forcing Almuth Schult to a fantastic one-on-one save.
Both teams had chances and both goalkeepers played extremely well, but, all in all, Germany can’t be too disappointed as they lost to the better team.
This was one of the more entertaining games at this World Cup: a thrilling end-to-end game played in the heat in Rennes. Both teams tried to play quickly and directly, which was evident especially in the first half.
Lina Magull gave Germany the lead in the 16th minute after a great finish from a typically fast and direct German attack. The Swedish reply came quickly thereafter. Sofia Jakobsson, the best player on the field, showed maturity in her finishing as she quickly capitalized on a rare mistake by the German defense.
Two minutes into the second half, Stina Blackenius completed Sweden’s turnaround. After yet another great save from German goalkeeper Schult, Blackenius was first to smash in the rebound.
Germany searched for an equalizer. In the dying minutes of the game, 17-year-old Lena Oberdorf came extremely close to heading in the equalizer, but the ball tantalizingly went to the wrong side of the goalpost.
Sweden’s front three stole the show
The best player today was the 29-year-old Jakobsson. Throughout the game, the Norrland-native was unstoppable. Whether it was dribbling past defenders, creating attacking opportunities with her intelligent passing or going for goal herself, Jakobsson deserves so much credit for her display.
Sweden only had 42 % ball possession, but the clever and effective off-ball running by Jakobsson, Blackstenius and Fridolina Rolfö always gave Sweden an attacking outlet. The trio zigged and zagged around the German defense whenever the Swedish midfield had the ball. Kosovare Asslani, who normally plays forward, sat deeper today and showed her vision and overall passing skills in midfield.
The fast readjustment runs from the Swedish front three were too much for the German defense to handle. It would be wrong to say that Germany played a bad game today. Frankly, they had a good tournament, and until today, they had not let in a single goal. But Jakobsson, Blackstenius, and Rolfö found the recipe to beat the German side today.