“It has never been so difficult,” said Sweden coach Peter Gerhardsson before announcing his squad for this summer’s European Championship. “Since me and Magnus [assistant coach Wikman] who took over the fight for places in 2017 was never at this level and I’m not just talking about the starting XI, that applies to the entire squad. It’s going to be tough for some of the girls who don’t make it.”
Strength at depth is one of the reasons Sweden have high hopes for the tournament. Qualifying for the European Championship was never a problem for Peter Gerhardsson’s team. Having been placed in Group F with Iceland, Slovakia, Hungary and Latvia, they picked up some big victories en route – despite losing two points after a 1-1 draw against Iceland in Reykjavik. “You never know how important a point is until the end of qualifying,” said Gerhardsson afterwards. “Maybe this one will be the decisive one.”
How it was Sweden won the home game against Iceland 2-0 and secured his place in England and group opponents Netherlands, Portugal and Switzerland must pay attention to the strength of the team in set pieces. Five defenders contributed 10 of Sweden’s 40 goals in qualifying, many from dead balls. For comparison: Sweden’s top scorer was the striker Anna Anvegardwho got five.
Gerhardsson isn’t afraid to change his formation, but it will likely be either 4-3-3 or 3-4-3 – despite going 5-3-2 in a recent World Cup qualifier against Ireland. The backbone of the squad has been together for a long time – players such as Hedvig Lindahl, Magdalena Eriksson, Caroline Seger and Kosovare Asllani – and after the heartbreak in last year’s Olympics final when they lost on penalties, they’ll want to go all the way this time.
Peter Gerhardson. The 62-year-old took over after Euro 2017 and has won a medal at the two tournaments he has led to date (bronze at the 2019 World Cup and silver at the Tokyo Olympics). A top player before becoming a coach, he played for Hammarby, among others, between 1978 and 1987 and was in charge of Hacken’s men’s team before taking over the women’s national team. When he was appointed coach of the women’s national team, there was a certain “Peter who?” reaction and some players had to google his name to find out how he was doing. Five years later he can become Sweden’s most successful coach of all time when his team wins the Euros. Loves music and has around 1500 CDs and 1700 vinyls.
There are many players who could fit that description, but if we have to pick one, it’s Stina Blackstenius. She’s grown as a person and as a player over the last few years – and it was clear to see on the pitch. Jjoined Arsenal from Häcken in January 2022 and has blended in seamlessly, developing an excellent partnership with Vivianne Miedema as the gunners took the WSL title fight to the last day. In Hedvig Lindahl’s podcast “Hela vägen mot målet” Blackstenius spoke about the development of her personality and said: “I don’t think I’m shy today and that’s a very nice feeling. In the end, I didn’t feel comfortable being the cautious person I was and I envied people who found it easy to be more open-minded. I’m still an introvert in many ways, but I like the feeling of being more open.”
Johanna Rytting Kaneryd narrowly missed out on the Olympic squad last year, despite having an outstanding season for her club Häcken. But she seems to have used that disappointment to take her game up a few notches, having been a regular for Sweden since the tournament and now an important part of Gerhardsson’s attack. However, the 25-year-old’s path to the top was not a straight one she says “She’s grown mentally and as a player because of the setbacks,” adding, “I want to win at everything I compete in.” With similar qualities to England’s Lauren Hemp, ie a quick and determined player who likes to take on her opponents one on one, she looks sure to have a good summer.
There is three different options we might see from the Swedish team this summer. A 4-3-3 formation, 3-4-3 or 5-3-2 (which they used when they qualified for the World Cup against Ireland).
I think Gerhardsson is most likely to play with a 4-3-3: Lindahl – Eriksson, Sembrant, Ilestedt, Glas – Seger, Angeldal, Asllani – Rolfö, Blackstenius, Rytting Kaneryd.
3-4-3: Lindahl – Eriksson, Ilestedt Sembrant – Andersson, Seger, Angeldal, Glas – Asllani, Rolfö, Blackstenius.
There are many players who have had a major impact on women’s football in Sweden, such as Lotta Schelin, Victoria Sandell Svensson, Pia Sundhage and Hanna Ljungberg to name a few. However, the one who stands out above all is Caroline Segler, who is still part of the Swedish team. In 2021 she became Sweden’s most capped player of all genders and has completed more than 220 games for her country. She overcame the devastation of missing a crucial penalty against Canada in the Olympics final to continue her amazing career. She made her debut in Sweden in March 2005. She’s also had a major impact off the pitch, having fought and won the battle for equal pay for the men’s and women’s national teams (but bonuses from major finals are still not included).
history of the euro
Sweden has a proud euro history, won the first in 1984 and always reached at least the quarterfinals. The gold medal at the inaugural tournament is Sweden’s only ever – in men’s or women’s football. In addition, Sweden has also lost three finals (1987, 1995 and 2001).. At the last European Championship, Sweden had great chances of winning the tournament, but were eliminated in the quarter-finals by eventual winners, the Netherlands.
Realistic goal for this summer
Considering that Sweden reached the final of the Olympic Games with pretty much exactly this team Hopes are high that they can at least reach the finals, with gold a realistic goal.