Sweden thoroughly dismantled Hungary 8-0 in matchday 7 of UEFA Women’s Euro 2021 qualifying.
Despite what google might tell you, head coach Peter Gerhardsson lined Sweden up in a 4-2-3-1 so that he could best maximize Kosovare Asllani’s qualities between the lines.
The first half was a case of a solid process but little end result for the Swedes, as they displayed nice build-up and pushed Hungary’s lines back with good counterpressing, but failed to pull off combinations and execute the decisive ball in the final third. It is in these instances where set-piece efficiency becomes very valuable, which Sweden used to score the only goal of the opening 45 minutes:
The dynamic of the game changed in the 41st minute, though, when Asllani showcased what she can do as a 2nd striker. Roaming into the #10 space, she received on the half-turn and threaded a delightful through ball for Hurtig to run onto:
The resulting red card ensured even more territorial dominance for Sweden and set them up nicely for the 2nd half.
In the 59th minute, Sweden converted from another corner, sparking an avalanche of goals; 5 in 13 minutes:
As if that wasn’t enough, they scored an 8th in the 90th, as a treat:
Sweden’s set-piece efficacy was certainly aided by some very poor defending by Hungary, but it would be a disservice to the coaching staff to ignore the clear pre-planned schemes on display. In the earlier goals from corner kicks, Gerhardsson bunched his Swedes right up on the goal line, so that they could disrupt the vision and movement of the keeper before peeling away from the box to contest the aerial duel.
Think about how hard it is to cut off a player moving away from the play. You absolutely cannot give up a header going towards goal, so you have no choice but to concede the spatial advantage and attempt to make up as much ground as possible once the ball is in flight.
After Sweden scored a couple from this routine, they pulled out another little trick.
A look at Sweden's corner kick strategy. Set-pieces in general are rarely exploited and maximized to full efficiency. This is very difficult to defend and probably easy to train. pic.twitter.com/DPK8o7Krh3— Las Blancas Podcast (@las_blancas) September 17, 2020
The players formed a tight box near the penalty spot before springing away in different directions after a little clockwise run to get rid of the markers.
Then, they switched it up further by adding a short corner kick to the already deadly “tight box” routine.
Of course, none of this could have come off if Asllani’s deliveries weren’t perfect. If those passes had been her only contribution of the night, she still would’ve had a large impact. Nonetheless, she also contributed significantly in open play as well. On top of causing the red card, she fashioned a pre-assist for the 3rd goal and created the 7th after good chest control and a delightful chip over the defense.
All-in-all, Asllani picked up a hat-trick of assists and was involved in three other goals. The way Gerhardsson uses Asllani should be a lesson for David Aznar.
Sofia Jakobsson, the other Real Madrid player who featured, wasn’t quite as brilliant. She struggled unusually with her speed of decision-making, final passes, and in 1v1 situations, but still influenced the game through her gravity, which stretched Hungary’s lines horizontally and created space for others.
Sweden play again on September 22nd, taking on Iceland at 2 pm EST.