World Cup NOW: Sweden has ‘blueprint’ to beat Spain

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Sweden advanced to the semifinal round of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup on Friday with its 2-1 win over Japan.

Amanda Ilestedt drew first blood for Sweden in the first half, while Filippa Angeldal connected on a penalty kick early in the second. That provided just enough of a cushion for Sweden to hang on for a quarterfinal victory. Sweden will face Spain in the next round. 

On the latest edition of “World Cup NOW,” Jimmy Conrad, Leslie Osborne and Melissa Ortiz broke down Sweden’s success and how it matches up against Spain.

Reactions to Sweden upsetting Japan in the quarterfinals

Reactions to Sweden upsetting Japan in the quarterfinals

Jimmy Conrad: “Japan likes to establish a rhythm when they play, and Sweden did a very good job of disrupting that rhythm. And when we think about who Sweden’s going to play next, it’s another team that likes to maintain possession and establish a rhythm, so Sweden kind of has their own blueprint for how to slow down a team that likes to play in this way. I find that to be very interesting moving forward into that semifinal. … I do think Sweden just neutralizing Japan is interesting for that Spain game.”

Leslie Osborne: “They [Japan] weren’t able to repossess for a long period of time and Sweden just shut ‘em down instantly, and you could tell they were frustrated, and they never really got into a tempo because they never got into a rhythm. I was thinking about Spain in this game having to play the winner, and I was like, ’gosh, I bet you Spain wanted another crack at Japan.’ But you’re totally right, they [Sweden] have the blueprint. I think you’re gonna see Sweden game plan and tactically approach Spain similar to Japan just because [of] the style of play and everything like that. This will be a really fun game.”

Melissa Ortiz: “I think Sweden has just outperformed teams — except for the U.S., of course — and has shown their capabilities. Also, individually, [Stina] Blackstenius has been great; Ilestedt has been great, so I think in each line there’s a certain player that’s a key player that has really stepped up. [Kosovare] Asllani had a great first half, very involved until she got subbed off.”

Check out the full Women’s World Cup schedule and how to watch each match live here. Find the latest scores here.

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