Georgia 0-15 Sweden
By: Yash Thakur
Sweden, who sit atop their FIFA Women’s World Cup Qualification group, were up against bottom-placed Georgia and the game panned out as expected. It was a bloodbath, so much so that Sweden were 11-0 up before halftime, with the game ending 15-0.
Peter Gerhardsson lined up his side in a back three, going with a 3-4-1-2 formation — Rolfö started as the #10. Kosovare Asllani, who is just returning from injury, was kept on the bench.
The floodgates opened in the 4th min, with Rolfö scoring off of a brilliant left-footed shot from the edge of the box. This was followed by a first half hat-trick by Angeldal, braces from Blackstenius and Hurtig, and goals apiece for Sembrant, Illestedt and Andersson — all in the opening forty-five minutes.
Georgia weren’t able to deal with Sweden’s aerial prowess from corners or crosses. Sweden dominated the ball with 81% possession and Georgia barely managed to enter the other half. Sweden’s level of dominance was also reflected in the shot count, outgunning Georgia 55 to nil. Sweden had as many as seven players attacking the box at most points in the game.
Asllani replaced Rolfö at the start of the second half and reprised the #10 role behind Blomqvist and Hurtig. Kosse looked like her dynamic self, constantly shifting across the front line and making runs into the box off of other forwards. She constantly popped up in the halfspaces to slip her wingbacks through and provide support. Asllani joined in on the goal-scoring exploits in the 76th minute, when she pounced on a loose ball on the edge of the box and turned to create space, firing her shot into the net off her left foot. Five minutes later, she scored her second goal from the spot.
Manchester City’s Filippa Angeldal was absolutely phenomenal all night. She had a hat-trick of both goals and assists and could have had more. She was on set-piece duties and her deliveries were brilliant (the same goes for her long-range shooting).
Scorelines like these don’t shower women’s football in glory; instead, they open up a general discourse about the disparity in investment and overall development in various countries.
Spain 1-1 Brazil
By: Om Arvind
Jorge Vilda perhaps surprised some by choosing a fairly rotated eleven. While he kept stalwarts like Mapi León, Aitana, and Alexia in the lineup, he went with Ivana over Irene Paredes, Athletic’s Lucía García, center-back Laia Alexandri in defensive midfield, and rising star Claudia Pina.
Spain dominated the opening fifteen minutes or so, easily working their way through a passive mid-block to threaten the box before counterpressing so that they could repeat the act. Laia looked good in these early minutes, as she was given space in which to work, drifting to Ivana’s side and helping conduct play through the right halfspace.
It helped that Brazil were demoralized by an early, deflected free-kick from Alexia Putellas.
Nevertheless, Brazil began to claw their way back into proceedings, aided by some sloppy giveaways from Spain. Furthermore, Brazil began to engage in more high-pressing sequences, and Kerolin and Geyse Ferreira got going in transition and seriously troubled Spain’s back line to end the half.
Ivana, in particular, didn’t perform at her best, getting beat too easily on the equalizer. Mapi, too, will be unhappy with how she defended. On the other hand, Geyse will be patting herself on the back for her wily turn on the control, using her body to shield the ball.
Both center-backs also made a fair few mistakes in possession, although Mapi counteracted that with moments of real genius to break lines and progress play. Ivana looked uncharacteristically out of sorts in that regard and failed to complete a number of vertical passes.
Some of Spain’s sloppiness was down to a lack of chemistry. On at least a fourth of their turnovers, a Barca player passed the ball without looking up, expecting a non-Barca player to be positioned in a particular way. These are natural kinks that can only be worked out with time, as those from La Blaugrana are accustomed to particular automatisms and chemistries that have yet to develop with figures from other teams.
What did work really well was the Amaiur Sarriegi-Claudia Pina dynamic, with their constant interchanges and movements in and out of depth confusing Brazil’s back line early on.
Vilda changed that at halftime, bringing off Lucía for Sheila García and Pina for Esther. Olga Carmona also came on for Leila.
In the 66th minute, Irene and Zornoza replaced Mapi and Alexia, respectively.
Despite Aitana really raising her level in certain spots to keep moves flowing, Spain struggled to threaten the box with consistency. Esther was the only one who managed to fashion some shots as the game wound down.
Vilda’s final sub arrived in the 80th; Amaiur swapped out for Barbara Latorre.
None of this was enough to push the offense to another gear bar the final minutes, where Spain really mounted some pressure and forced Brazil to hold on for dear life in the box.
It was too little, too late and Brazil held on for a deserved draw.