Sweden defeated Australia 1-0 in a closely contested semi-final thanks to a second half goal from Fridolina Rolfö. Sweden will take on Canada in the final. The bronze medal match will be contested between the USWNT and Australia.
This game was far more muted than Sweden’s crazy 4-2 victory over Australia in the group stages. Australia had a certain structural advantage with their back three, forcing Sweden’s front two to back off and form a passive 4-4-2 block that sought to shield the double pivot. However, Ellie Carpenter was not aggressive enough dribbling forward to force the issue and Australia’s attacks broke down too easily — thanks to wayward direct passes and switches — after they achieved the initial progression into the middle third.
Australia had joy whenever they could attack the box, but their inability to enter the final third with great frequency bar the final 10 minutes put too much onus on efficiency of action.
The positive came in their ability to discourage their opponents from pressing, which hurt Sweden’s offensive game by denying them offensive transition. Thus, a huge burden fell on the Blue and Yellow’s possession play, which often came up short vs. Australia’s 5-2-3 defensive structure.
Things were set up to continue in the same way in the second half, but a fortunate bounce and deflection put the ball in Fridolina Rolfö’s path and Barcelona’s new signing made no mistake.
Rolfo goal, Blackstenius assist pic.twitter.com/0rs8EpnqW5— Hedonist (@The_Hedonist_6) August 2, 2021
Sweden were buoyed into a sustained spell of possession in Australia’s third before the flow of the game reverted to the old story. Peter Gerhardsson’s women were able to see out the result, riding a few scares, and probably should’ve made it 2-0 late on.
Rolfo works hard for the cross, Blackstenius misses an open goal pic.twitter.com/lmrijDjwvt— Hedonist (@The_Hedonist_6) August 2, 2021
This wasn’t one of Kosovare Asllani’s best performances. She wasn’t able to get on the ball consistently and was wasteful with her touches in transition. Nevertheless, she worked hard defensively and will have the opportunity to make her mark in a more significant way in the final vs. Canada.