The final international break before the FIFA Women’s World Cup is here. This is the final dress rehearsal for many teams before the ultimate showdown for the biggest prize in women’s football. Many teams are using this to gauge the depth of their squad while others are seeing this to figure out their best XI.
Multiple Madridistas have featured for their respective sides so far.
Australia vs Scotland
By: Yash Thakur
Host nation Australia were up against Scotland to test their mettle before the home tournament. The Matildas benched some key players in order to test squad depth according to manager Tony Gustavsson, meant Sam Kerr didn’t feature in the game.
Scotland came out with the intention to cause problems and succeeded in terms of the scoreline, winning the game 1-0 thanks to an early second half goal strike by Nicola Docherty. Matildas pushed for the equalizer which never came.
Scotland lined up in a 4-2-3-1 handing a debut to 17-year-old Emma Watson. Real Madrid’s Caroline Weir partnered Sam Kerr in the double pivot as Marta Thomas lead the line. Australia, on the other hand, were in a 4-3-3 with Larissa Crummer given the opportunity to lead the line. Lyon’s Ellie Carpenter made her return to the Matildas lineup after a 360 day gap due to ACL injury.
Scotland struggled initially with building out the back and weathering early pressure from Australia’s frontline. Caroline Weir had to support play in deeper positions to help bring the ball out the back. Scotland’s 4-1-4-1 off-ball shape meant Australia found it easy to overload the pivot player with two offensive #8.
Australia were particularly dangerous in counter-attacking situations. Scotland found no joy in the opening half hour of the match before a sloppy sequence at the back allowed them to record a shot via Martha Thomas. Scotland used this event and swung the momentum around, recording multiple shots in quick succession and ending the half on a high.
@NicDoc11 take a BOW! What a strike to open the scoring in London!#SWNTpic.twitter.com/O6a1RNXoxm— Scotland National Team (@ScotlandNT) April 7, 2023
The second half began with the perfect start for Scotland as left-back Nicola Docherty’s right footed strike from outside the box went into the top corner beyond the reach of goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold giving them the lead within 60 seconds of the second half. Game state affected the way Matildas approached the game and while they did struck the post in the half, they couldn’t find the equalizer.
Caroline Weir played the entirety of the match but started the game in anonymous mode, struggling to impose herself in the game or get on the ball. She grew in influence over the course of 90 minutes. She had to support progression by dropping deeper and at times was left to chase the ball alone. She was excellent in pressing in the second half and did create chances for her team with her ball carrying in transition and set-pieces. She got herself a yellow card for time wasting towards the end.
Sweden vs Denmark
By: Yash Thakur
The Scandinavian battle between Sweden and Denmark saw both sides field a slightly rotated lineup in their prep for the FIFA Women’s World Cup. Sweden lined up in a 4-3-3 with no Asllani in the lineup. Arsenal’s Stina Blackstenius was leading the line with Fridolina Rolfo and Kaneyrd on either side of her. The midfield was a new look midfield with Hanna Bennison, Janogy and Ziggioti Olme forming the trio in the middle of the park.
Denmark were once again a back four with Svava starting at left back and Everton’s Rikke Sevecke playing as right-back. PSG’s Amalie Vansgaard was leading the line for Denmark.
Denmark started the game very brightly and were all over Sweden in the opening exchanges, creating a couple of chances in the opening 10 minutes and winning 3 corners. Sweden found it difficult to build out the back and Denmark’s press helped them recover the ball higher up the pitch. Denmark’s 4-5-1 off the ball meant it was difficult to find immediate passing options in midfield. Sweden needed a freekick to create any sort of danger in the first half.
Second half was the same story with Denmark creating excellent chances. Amalie Vansgaard got on the end of a cross from Jannie Thomsen but the header went wide. Sweden tried to gain control in the second half by patiently keeping the ball but it didn’t result in many dangerous opportunities however they did look better than the first half. Sweden created some chances thanks to some individual carry moments from Kaneryd.
With scores tied till the 90th minute mark, the game ended up getting very frenetic and transitional. Denmark snatched the win towards the very end of the game with two second half substitutes, Katrine Veje and Stine Larsen combining to score from a header at the far post.
Sofie Svava started the game in the left back role rather than the wingback role but was just as influential in the offensive end of the pitch. She started the game particularly brightly and created multiple good chances with her crossing and set-piece delivery. She found a lot of space to carry the ball in the final third. Defensively she wasn’t challenged as much due to Sweden’s lack of synergy in attack and when they did try to attack her side, she was helped out by Nico Sorensen. She was subbed off in the 64th minute.