Spain vs Sweden preview: Women’s World Cup 2023 semi-final

A clash of styles as free-scoring Spain play set-piece specialists Sweden for a place in the final.

Amanda Ilestedt of Sweden scores her team's first goal
Swedish defender Amanda Ilestedt, right, is an unlikely candidate for the Golden Boot after scoring four goals in this World Cup [File: Buda Mendes/Getty Images]

When: Tuesday, August 15
Where: Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand
Kickoff: 8pm (08:00 GMT)

High-scoring Spain and physical set-piece specialists Sweden will vie for a spot in the final on Tuesday at Auckland’s Eden Park, setting up a showdown in Sydney with either co-hosts Australia or European champions England for the chance to be crowned a first-time World Cup winner.

La Roja’s only previous semi-final appearance at a major tournament was at the 1997 Euros. They made their World Cup debut in 2015, and their best result prior to this tournament was a last 16 exit four years ago.

After seeing off 2019 runners-up the Netherlands, they are now one win away from a first final and have scored 15 goals in the process, less than a year after 15 players staged a revolt against long-serving coach Jorge Vilda and threatened to quit unless changes were made. Vilda was ultimately backed by the federation in the dispute and only three of the 15 players made it to the World Cup squad.

“If you don’t feel any nerves before a game like this then something is not right,” veteran forward Jenni Hermoso said. “It gives you goose bumps thinking about how close we are to the final. … Spain will come out more determined than ever.

“We have worked so hard to get here. … I want the whole team to enjoy it and for the whole of Spain to be behind us.”

Sweden are the highest-ranked nation remaining – at world number three – and are appearing in their fifth World Cup semi-final. They have played in all nine editions but only reached the final once, when they lost to Germany in 2003.

The Scandinavians have not won a major trophy since the inaugural 1984 Euros when only four teams took part. They also reached the semi-finals of last year’s Euros and the 2019 World Cup and have been runners-up at the last two Olympics.

Sweden won all three group games this tournament and dispatched two World Cup winners – the United States and Japan – in the knockouts. They will be confident of continuing that momentum against Spain.

“It’s going to be a high-pressure Spain and high-pressure Sweden,” Sweden coach Peter Gerhardsson said. “For me, it’s lovely football.”

Sweden captain Kosovare Asllani said her side has the benefit of experience.

“We have gone far in the last few tournaments, but I am particularly pleased with the way we have done it this time,” she said. “We have won our matches in different ways, and it shows the strength of this team.”

Spain’s team news

Spain’s playmaker Aitana Bonmati and defender Laia Codina are both nursing muscular injuries but are expected to be fit enough to play. Right back Oihane Hernandez will miss out due to a suspension.

Vilda’s biggest decision could be whether to start Salma Paralluelo, who scored the winning goal in the quarter-final, or again use the pacy 19-year-old Barcelona winger as an impact substitute.

Sweden’s team news

Gerhardsson said winger Sofia Jakobsson had very “mild symptoms of illness” but he expected all of his squad to be available for the clash against Spain.

Players to watch

Spain: With Alexia Putellas struggling to return to peak powers after an ACL injury, her Barcelona teammate Bonmati has stepped up as chief playmaker and has scored three goals for Spain in this World Cup.

Sweden: Centre back Amanda Ilestedt has become an unlikely candidate to claim the Golden Boot with four goals in the tournament – all from set pieces. She is one shy of the leading Hinata Miyazawa, who can no longer add to her tally after Japan’s elimination by Sweden in the quarter-finals.


Spain have yet to beat Sweden in 11 meetings – none of which was at a World Cup – and have lost seven of those games. The teams drew 1-1 in a friendly in October in Cordoba.

World Cup record and FIFA rankings

Spain were sixth in FIFA’s world rankings ahead of the World Cup while Sweden were third.

Spain: W W L W W

Sweden: W W W W W

Where can I watch the game?

Global listings are available from

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Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies