International break continues with its second round of fixtures as preparations continue for the biggest prize in the summer, FIFA Women’s World Cup. Scotland and Denmark were both in action in their respective tournaments and produced positive results in their matchups with varying stakes.
Scotland 2-1 Philippines
By: Yash Thakur
After losing their first game against Iceland due to a quick fire double in the second half despite dominating possession, Scotland were up against Philippines in the second game of the Pinatar Cup. Philippines have been on the upward trajectory ever since the Asian Cup and have looked capable of asking some questions and being a frustrating side to play against at times.
Scotland were in their typical 4-2-3-1 but with a rotated lineup. Caroline Weir sat out on the bench in this one having started in the previous game. Philippines lined up in a similar 4-2-3-1 shape in attack which transformed into a 4-4-2 off-the-ball. Philippines approach off-the-ball and a hybrid pressing scheme did cause Scotland some problems in building out the back and the rotated lineup meant there was a lack of synergy up front.
All of Philippines’ chances came from a direct approach which often saw them get caught offside, but they did identify the weak areas in behind and tried to attack them despite not seeing the ball that often. They defended well as a unit and managed to limit Scotland to just 9 shots in the entire game despite their vast possession dominance.
The resistance however was broken in the 40th minute when Lauren Davidson’s shot slipped into the back of the net at the near post following a deflection, completely catching the goalkeeper off-guard.
Caroline Weir brought on at the halfway mark and reprised her role as the attacking midfielder. She instantly added the incisive passing and stitched the play really well in the final third. She proved to be the difference maker inside 15 minutes after coming on when her corner delivery hit Rachel Corsie on its way into the back of the net in the 57th minute. Her dribbling, ability in tight space and ball carrying added a degree of directness to Scotland’s play.
Philippines started being more adventurous following this and their persistence paid off towards the end. They managed to get a consolation goal in the 90th minute following a freekick at the edge of the box. A stunning low left footed strike by Meryll Serrano helped them reduce the deficit to just one goal but it wasn’t enough.
Denmark 2-0 Norway
By: Yash Thakur
It was a Scandinavian battle in the Tournoi de France with Denmark facing off against Norway. Denmark came into this having lost their previous game 2-0 against hosts France.
Denmark opted away from their usual back three with wingbacks system and went with a back four which resembled a 4-1-4-1 for large parts. Norway were in a similar shape as well, mirroring Denmark’s 4-1-4-1 with a 4-5-1 of their own.
The game was dull with neither side managing to get a stronghold in it. Denmark created some danger from their right-hand side but it was never a clear domination. There were multiple fouls, sloppy passes and just overall laborious play.
The Danes however capitalized on the early chance in the 9th minute when 21-year-old Josefine Hasbo was the quickest to react to a loose ball and gave them the lead. Norway lacked the cutting edge in attack and couldn’t create much in the first half at all.
Things changed a bit in the second half when Norway brought on their substitutions. They managed to register more shots and were a bit more adventurous when they got on the ball instead of being wasteful. They couldn’t capitalize or make any of those shots count however.
Sofie Svava was deployed as a traditional left-back in a back four instead of her usual wingback role. This limited her impact in the offensive third and she didn’t have the freedom to venture forwards as much. Denmark channeling all their attacks from the right didn’t help her case.
The only time she could have a positive offensive impact was from dead-ball situations, from a corner or freekicks. Denmark hit the crossbar from one of her corner deliveries and she put in a couple of good curling deliveries into the heart of the box from freekicks. The one time she was able to burst forward and attack the box, she managed to cross the ball which hit the hand of Norway’s Maren Mjelde but nothing was called.
Sofie Svava freekick banger! pic.twitter.com/GXAAr06lQg— Yash (@Odriozolite) February 18, 2023
In the 83rd minute the Real Madrid left back produced a moment of magic from a freekick situation from right outside the box. She managed to curl her set-piece beyond the wall and put it in the back of the net to double Denmark’s lead and secure the win for them. Not much offensive involvement from open-play but produced the goods from a set-piece.
Defensively she had an okay game, winning some of her duels while lacking in some of those. Her defensive positioning needs some work but wasn’t overly concerning today.