International women’s football kicked back into gear with a spate of friendlies today, including Sweden vs. Norway. Real Madrid Femenino stars Kosovare Asllani and Sofia Jakobsson started in a 3-4-3 formation, leading their side to a rather comfortable 1-0 victory.
Asllani didn’t operate as a traditional striker and dropped from the forward line to roam into pockets. Norway expected this and adopted a curious 4-3-2-1 Christmas Tree structure to box off the center.
Norway defending in a sort of 4-3-2-1 christmas tree thing. Not often you see that. Assuming it's being done to overload the center and stifle Asllani while enabling ball-side pressure on wide CB. https://t.co/7jrDzhffVx pic.twitter.com/cN4OdbxWp9— Om (@OmVAsports) June 10, 2021
Another look at the shape. It morphs from a 3-2 to 2-3 regularly, as the wide CM steps up to pressure, so the numerical description is somewhat arbitrary. The important point is that Norway is trying to box out the center and is currently willing to live with anything out wide. pic.twitter.com/VtGoI9K387— Om (@OmVAsports) June 10, 2021
Normally, Sofia Jakobsson’s tendencies to drift out wide when she’s part of a dedicated two up top can be problematic, but it proved to be just the antidote Sweden needed against such a narrow shape.
Her movements to the flank created overloads out wide, enabling The Blue and Yellow to play quick combinations to create separation for a cross, isolate the left back 1v1, and launch direct passes into the channel.
Sweden got a fair amount of joy progressing this way, but their overall dominance came from their pressing and counterpressing. Asllani was a monster in this regard, staying ultra-alert to loose passes and harassing Norway’s pivot. She probably should’ve scored at least one goal from high pressing sequences, though she made her presence count when she assisted the winner.
Bar a few Norway forays into the penalty area, Sweden were thoroughly on top and the final scoreline undersells their control over proceedings.
Sweden play next vs. Australia on June 15, 12:45 pm EST.
Got multiple attempts on goals, neared double-digit recoveries from pressing actions, released runners well, and got the assist. Something about playing for the national team gets that little bit extra out of our number nine.
A solid performance from the winger. She had some good moments 1v1 but faded in this regard in the second half. However, she worked hard defensively and ended up being the crucial outlet that sparked the key counter-attacking sequence to win the game.