Sweden continued their quest for Euro 2021 qualifying with a match against Iceland.
Kosovare Asllani and Sofia Jakobsson started again, but, unlike last time out vs Hungary, those two had a much tougher time virtue of playing a much better opponent.
Iceland were quite disciplined in their defensive shape throughout the game. They pressed Sweden from a 4-4-2 shape and were quick to recede into a sort or 4-4-1-1 whenever their forward lines got bypassed. Once set in the latter structure, one of Iceland’s two forward players would drop off to block passing lanes and congest the midfield.
This made it difficult for Asllani to have anywhere near the influence she had vs. Hungary, though she did still find ways to get teammates involved, link play farther away from the box, and get things going in transition.
Because of Iceland’s emphasis on closing out the center, Sweden’s wide areas were left relatively open. Iceland were prepared for this and their defense was well set in the box, but their penalty box defending was quite poor and allowed Sweden to get off shots that would’ve been avoided with strong clearances.
Thus, the dynamic of the game was better set to suit Jakobsson than Asllani, and the former made the difference in the 33rd minute.
Sofia received the ball on the touchline and nutmegged Hlíðdal, but the defender’s recovery was good and the cross was blocked. Jakobsson kept her cool and dinked the rebound back into the area for Anvegård to convert.
At this point, Sweden had been growing into the game, as their build-up began to work their way around the high press. Nevertheless, Iceland responded strongly, playing balls into the channels and managing to spend extended periods of time in Sweden’s half.
Iceland initially had a goal from a corner kick ruled out for a dubious foul, but they finally got their equalizer off of long a throw-in the 61st minute.
Jensen took advantage of some shocking defending to head home, capping off a player of the match performance where she terrorized her markers with more than a couple of neat dribbling sequences.
Sweden will be very disappointed with the result, as they were unable to pull away decisively from Iceland atop Group F.
But Madridistas can take heart in the improved performance from Jakobsson and the form Asllani showed last game vs. Hungary. Two of Real Madrid’s most important attackers look ready and raring to go.