- 15 Aug 2023 - 10:36(10:36 GMT)
That’s a wrap
Spain have booked their place in their first-ever Women’s World Cup final after a dramatic victory over Sweden.
Now all eyes turn to Sydney for Wednesday’s blockbuster England vs Australia clash.
Make sure to join us then for more live coverage of the tournament.
- 15 Aug 2023 - 10:34(10:34 GMT)
Old rivals go head to head
England vs Australia is one of sport’s fiercest rivalries, and on Wednesday the pair will meet in a World Cup semifinal.
It’s a tantalising fixture in Sydney with home favourites the Matildas taking on European champions, the Lionesses.
Australia got the better of England earlier this year in a friendly in London. That 2-0 win ended England’s run of 30 games unbeaten.
It should be a cracking atmosphere at Stadium Australia tomorrow evening, with the game sold out.
— CommBank Matildas (@TheMatildas) August 15, 2023
Counting down the hours. 👊 pic.twitter.com/BxCJIUK65w
— Lionesses (@Lionesses) August 15, 2023
- 15 Aug 2023 - 10:24(10:24 GMT)
Paralluelo, the super sub
Teenager Salma Paralluelo has been a revelation in the knockout stages at this World Cup.
She came off the bench against the Netherlands in the quarterfinal to score a 111th-minute winner in extra time.
Today, she repeated the trick.
She was introduced in the 57th minute and made an immediate effect, causing plenty of problems for the Swedish defence.
She fully deserved her goal which put Spain ahead before the chaos ensued. She will be wondering if she has done enough to earn a start in the final.
— FIFA Women's World Cup (@FIFAWWC) August 15, 2023
- 15 Aug 2023 - 10:12(10:12 GMT)
First finalists confirmed
Great scenes in Auckland as the Spain squad jump around the pitch.
Jorge Vilda looks delighted. After all of the chaos of their build-up to this tournament, he has done a terrific job to guide his team to their first World Cup final.
They’ll face England or Australia in Sunday’s final in Sydney.
Right now, their only focus is celebrating this epic victory.
- 15 Aug 2023 - 10:07(10:07 GMT)
The emotion of the semifinals
- 15 Aug 2023 - 10:02(10:02 GMT)
A chaotic finale
There was barely time to process Sweden’s equaliser before Carmona popped up with the winner.
Spain showed unbelievable composure to recover from that late setback.
The Sweden players look devastated. It’s one win in five World Cup semifinals for them.
ZURDAZO DE OLGA CARMONAAAAAAAAAA
— Selección Española Femenina de Fútbol (@SEFutbolFem) August 15, 2023
- 15 Aug 2023 - 09:58(09:58 GMT)
- 15 Aug 2023 - 09:56(09:56 GMT)
Spain have done it!
What a win, especially after conceding so late on.
Their incredible story continues as they reach their first Women’s World Cup final.
Sweden’s semifinal misery continues.
Full-time: Spain 2-1 Sweden
- 15 Aug 2023 - 09:54(09:54 GMT)
Time almost up
Sweden think they have a corner, but the referee instead awards a free kick after Carmona draws a foul from Hurtig. That looked a pretty soft one.
Time is almost up.
90+7 mins: Spain 2-1 Sweden
- 15 Aug 2023 - 09:53(09:53 GMT)
Spain make a change
Spain make a late change, Mariona Caldentey off for Esther Gonzalez.
90+5 mins: Spain 2-1 Sweden
- 15 Aug 2023 - 09:52(09:52 GMT)
Sweden getting desperate
Is this going to be more semifinal heartbreak for Sweden?
They have three minutes left to find something.
Angeldal has a free kick from just inside the Spanish half. She launches the ball into the box. It’s a real scrap inside the area, but the referee awards Spain a free kick after Eriksson made contact with a Spanish player.
90+4 mins: Spain 2-1 Sweden
- 15 Aug 2023 - 09:49(09:49 GMT)
Seven minutes added on
What a frantic conclusion to this game.
Seven minutes have been added on and Sweden are pumping balls into the box to try and find another leveller.
90+2 mins: Spain 2-1 Sweden
- 15 Aug 2023 - 09:47(09:47 GMT)
Wow! Carmona puts Spain ahead!!
Third time lucky for the Spaniard after two unsuccessful shots from outside the box. This time she goes for precision over power.
The ball hits the crossbar but bounces down and crosses the line. Incredible drama.
89 mins: Spain 2-1 Sweden
- 15 Aug 2023 - 09:45(09:45 GMT)
Blomqvist gets Sweden level!
Rolfe does very well down the left to loop a cross into the box.
Lina Hurting – who has just come in – wins a header, sending the ball across the goal for Blomqvist who gets the shot away to level.
87 mins: Spain 1-1 Sweden
- 15 Aug 2023 - 09:43(09:43 GMT)
Eriksson dives for a header
Sweden work a free kick well from the middle of the park, with the ball finding Eriksson in a dangerous position in the box.
She dives to make a header which is aimed in the direction of Ilestedt but there’s just a little too much on it.
Cata Coll is now down injured, allowing Jorge Vilda some time to organise his players ahead of a likely Sweden onslaught.
85 mins: Spain 1-0 Sweden
- 15 Aug 2023 - 09:40(09:40 GMT)
VAR check on the goal
There were anxious moments for Spain with a VAR check to see if Navarro was interfering with play from an offside decision.
But there are no issues and the goal is awarded.
The Spanish fans are bouncing in the stands.
83 mins: Spain 1-0 Sweden
- 15 Aug 2023 - 09:38(09:38 GMT)
She’s done it again! Paralluelo breaks the deadlock!
Spain get it out to Hermoso on the left. Andersson’s clearance is poor and it falls to Paralluelo who hooks the ball in with her right foot.
80 mins: Spain 1-0 Sweden
- 15 Aug 2023 - 09:35(09:35 GMT)
Sweden make their first substitutions
Sweden make two changes:
Off: Stina Blackstenius, Johanna Kaneryd
On: Rebecka Blomqvist, Olivia Schough
77 mins: Spain 0-0 Sweden
- 15 Aug 2023 - 09:33(09:33 GMT)
Kaneryd almost finds Blackstenius
Rolfo does very well to keep the ball in at the left byline and whip a cross into the box.
But it doesn’t catch Cata Coll any issues and she catches the ball with ease.
Kaneryd then tries her luck with a cross from the right. It’s a superb ball into the box and just missed Blackstenius who was lining up a header.
What a chance!
76 mins: Spain 0-0 Sweden
- 15 Aug 2023 - 09:30(09:30 GMT)
Spain make another change
Alba Redondo comes off for Eva Navarro.
Sweden are still to make a change with less than 20 minutes left.
73 mins: Spain 0-0 Sweden
- 15 Aug 2023 - 09:29(09:29 GMT)
Redondo hits the side netting
Almost a goal!
Hermoso delivers a cross from the left. Redondo stretches to get a shot away on the edge of the six-yard box.
The ball goes wide, but Paralluelo does very well to keep it alive and deliver the ball back across the goal to Redondo.
She hooks a shot away at close range and it looks like a goal, but the ball had actually just fired into the side netting. I thought that was the breakthrough!
71 mins: Spain 0-0 Sweden
- 15 Aug 2023 - 09:26(09:26 GMT)
Paralluelo causing problems
Abelleira delivers the corner from the left, but a Swedish defender gets it away with a thumping header.
Paralluelo then puts Ilestedt under pressure near her own corner flag on the left.
The Spanish forward has caused all sorts of problems since being substituted.
68 mins: Spain 0-0 Sweden
- 15 Aug 2023 - 09:24(09:24 GMT)
Spain win a dangerous free kick
Paralluelo is looking really lively.
She takes on two Swedish defenders in the box but ends up running to the byline and her cross-back across goal doesn’t find a teammate.
Spain then win a foul on the edge of the Swedish box. Caldentey takes it, but the wall does its job and the ball deflects away for a corner.
67 mins: Spain 0-0 Sweden
- 15 Aug 2023 - 09:22(09:22 GMT)
Chances at either end
Carmona is down hurt after her foot was stamped on by Asllani who was trying to block a clearance. That looked a painful one.
The referee keeps her cards in her pocket, as she has done all night.
Shortly after Asllani plays Kaneyrd in down the right. She fires in a cross which Cata Coll does very well to palm away.
Spain then go up the other end and create their own chance. Redondo picks out Paralluelo with a cross from the right.
She does well to get a header off after running in between two Swedish defenders. But the effort goes up and over the bar. It was a difficult one, with the cross coming in at pace.
64 mins: Spain 0-0 Sweden
- 15 Aug 2023 - 09:18(09:18 GMT)
Weather takes a turn for the worse
Rain is coming down in Auckland after a clear first half.
Hermoso sets Spain away on a counter. Redondo finds Bonmati making a run into the box, but Rubensson tracks back to put her off and stop the attack.
Rubensson has been everywhere tonight.
61 mins: Spain 0-0 Sweden
- 15 Aug 2023 - 09:15(09:15 GMT)
Spain make a change
An early change from Jorge Vilda.
Alexia Putellas makes way for Salma Paralluelo – she came on to score against the Netherlands.
She’s straight into the thick of the action, causing chaos from a long ball.
57 mins: Spain 0-0 Sweden
- 15 Aug 2023 - 09:13(09:13 GMT)
Sweden start well
Sweden have started this half very well.
They are seeing a lot more of the ball and finding ways to break through the Spanish defence.
Blackstenius does very well to chase down a through ball into the box and get a shot off, but it’s an extremely tight angle and causes no issues for Cata Coll.
55 mins: Spain 0-0 Sweden
- 15 Aug 2023 - 09:10(09:10 GMT)
Cata Coll fouled from a corner
Asllani digs out a cross from the very right corner of the pitch, but it goes beyond everyone in the box.
Codina concedes a corner while defending a long back.
Asllani takes from the left, curling the ball towards the near post. Cata Coll spills a catch but she was fouled by Eriksson and the referee awards a free kick to Spain.
52 mins: Spain 0-0 Sweden
- 15 Aug 2023 - 09:06(09:06 GMT)
Spain break away
Caldentey plays a fantastic ball looking for Redondo who was making a run down the right.
It’s almost perfectly weighted, but Musovic reads it well to come out and gather the ball.
Spain can certainly play some nice football.
49 mins: Spain 0-0 Sweden
- 15 Aug 2023 - 09:03(09:03 GMT)
Second half under way
Spain kick off the second half. They are attacking from left to right as it looks on the screen.
The half starts with Carmona crashing into Asllani during an aerial duel. Sweden are awarded a free kick which Asllani gets up to take.
It’s floated into the box but Spain get it away.
46 mins: Spain 0-0 Sweden
- 15 Aug 2023 - 09:02(09:02 GMT)
Players back out
No changes for either side at half-time.
The second half is about to kick off.
Can either side make a breakthrough in the next 45 minutes?
- 15 Aug 2023 - 08:48(08:48 GMT)
- 15 Aug 2023 - 08:46(08:46 GMT)
One minute added on
Sweden create more danger from another corner. Andersson delivers the ball from the right, finding a crowd of players on the goal line.
Under pressure, Cata Coll does very well to punch it away. It falls to Blackstenius who tries to get a shot away, but she can’t get a good enough connection.
A good few minutes for Sweden.
One minute is added on for stoppage time.
45 mins: Spain 0-0 Sweden
- 15 Aug 2023 - 08:44(08:44 GMT)
Cata Coll makes a good save
What an effort from Rolfo!
She forces a save from Cata Coll after Bjorn digs out a fantastic cross with the outside of her boot. She somehow finds Rolfo at the back post, and the Barcelona forward does well to get a shot off. A strong save from Cata Coll.
The Spain goalkeeper is called into action from the subsequent corner and does well to punch the ball away.
43 mins: Spain 0-0 Sweden
- 15 Aug 2023 - 08:41(08:41 GMT)
Bonmati shoots wide
Bonmati does very well to receive the ball and control it on the edge of the Sweden box.
She finds herself in a bit of space and decides to take a shot from the D.
The shot lacks a bit of conviction and goes wide of the right post.
There’s almost a catastrophic mistake at the back from Sweden after a mix-up between Rubensson and Eriksson, but the latter does well to take control of the situation and get the ball away to safety.
40 mins: Spain 0-0 Sweden
- 15 Aug 2023 - 08:39(08:39 GMT)
Batlle keeps Asllani out
Asllani spins away from Batlle in the corner of the Spain box, but the defender does very well to recover and snuff out the danger.
Bjorn tries to muster up another Swedish attack, but an overhit pass ends the momentum.
Spain are just about edging this one, but don’t count Sweden out.
37 mins: Spain 0-0 Sweden
- 15 Aug 2023 - 08:36(08:36 GMT)
Spain keep the pressure on
A number of players are crowding around the referee after she gave Spain a free kick for a handball from Angeldal. It looked like the Swede was fouled in the build-up.
The free kick is swung into the box from the left but the Sweden defence deal with it. The ball works its way back to Putellas on the right.
She does very well to lose her marker and send a cross into the box, forcing Musovic to palm the ball away.
The resulting corner causes some anxiety amongst the Swedish defence, but they get the ball away and survive a spell of Spanish pressure.
35 mins: Spain 0-0 Sweden
- 15 Aug 2023 - 08:32(08:32 GMT)
A mistake from Paredes
Paredes is almost closed down by Blackstenius after some sloppy play in her own penalty area, but the ball safely rebounds away to another Spanish defender.
Kaneryd then chases a ball down the right channel, but two Spanish players crowd her out and get it away.
The defences are on top in this one at present.
31 mins: Spain 0-0 Sweden
- 15 Aug 2023 - 08:29(08:29 GMT)
Spain attack down the left
Caldentey marks a run down the left and swings a cross into the box.
It’s a dangerous one which finds Hermoso who can’t get a shot away under pressure from two Swedish defenders.
Spain are having some success down their left.
28 mins: Spain 0-0 Sweden
- 15 Aug 2023 - 08:27(08:27 GMT)
Another attempt from Carmona
Carmona has another go from the left, but this time she is further out and at more of an angle.
Her shot flies high over the bar.
She’s not short of confidence, with two long-range shots already in this match.
Bjorn then concedes a foul just inside of her own half, pushing into Caldentey from behind.
26 mins: Spain 0-0 Sweden
- 15 Aug 2023 - 08:25(08:25 GMT)
Sweden looking solid
Redondo picks up the ball on the right and cuts inside into the box. She tries to find Hermoso but Rubensson does very well to get back and intercept the pass.
Spain are playing better, but Sweden are keeping the game tight and look compact at the back.
24 mins: Spain 0-0 Sweden
- 15 Aug 2023 - 08:23(08:23 GMT)
Spain working the ball well
Spain are passing the ball around better than their opponents, switching play from side to side with ease.
Bonmati leaves Rubensson on the floor with a lovely dummy. She curls the ball into the box from the left looking for Hermoso, but it’s just a bit too high and goes all the way through to Musovic who makes the save.
21 mins: Spain 0-0 Sweden
- 15 Aug 2023 - 08:19(08:19 GMT)
Sweden counter well
Rolfo embarks on a powerful run towards goal, barging her way through the Spanish defence. It takes three of them to finally stop her.
At the other end, Redondo cuts inside from the right and tries to play the ball square to a teammate, but she only finds a Swedish defender.
18 mins: Spain 0-0 Sweden
- 15 Aug 2023 - 08:17(08:17 GMT)
Game opening up
Kaneryd finds herself alone in front of the goal but just flicks an effort wide. She was offside, so it wouldn’t have counted anyway.
The game is thankfully starting to open up a little after a cagey start.
16 mins: Spain 0-0 Sweden
- 15 Aug 2023 - 08:15(08:15 GMT)
Carmona fires just wide
Some encouragement for Spain. A cross from the left finds Redondo at the back post. She flicks the ball back across the goal with a header.
Ilestedt struggles to head the ball away and the Swedish defence makes a bit of a meal of trying to get the ball clear. They eventually do, but Spain caused some alarm.
Carmona then tries her luck from just outside the area. It’s a well-struck shot that flies just wide of the right post.
The replay shows that the ball took a slight deflection. That wasn’t far away at all.
14 mins: Spain 0-0 Sweden
- 15 Aug 2023 - 08:11(08:11 GMT)
Spain try to unlock the Swedish defence
Blackstenius thought she had been fouled by Paredes but the referee wasn’t convinced. The replay shows that there wasn’t a lot of contact.
Spain are trying a few ambitious forward balls to break through the Swedish defence, but their radar is just a little off at the moment.
Plenty of yellow and blue in the stands tonight.
Supportrarna Annika och Kristina är på plats på Ullevi för att stötta damlandslaget! 😍🙌
De tror på seger för Sverige! 🇸🇪🙌 pic.twitter.com/hr9mzfCqji
— Svensk Fotboll (@svenskfotboll) August 15, 2023
10 mins: Spain 0-0 Sweden
- 15 Aug 2023 - 08:08(08:08 GMT)
A cagey opening
Bonmati fouls Rubensson, tugging on her shirt after getting on the wrong side of her.
She protests against the decision and the referee comes over to have a word with her.
Both teams are just trying to settle down at present.
6 mins: Spain 0-0 Sweden
- 15 Aug 2023 - 08:06(08:06 GMT)
Cata Coll collects a cross
Asllani swings the ball into the box from the right. It was a deep cross, but caused no issues for Cata Coll who caught it well.
Both goalkeepers have had an early touch of the ball which will help to settle the nerves.
Sweden are enjoying more possession so far.
4 mins: Spain 0-0 Sweden
- 15 Aug 2023 - 08:03(08:03 GMT)
Plenty of atmosphere
It’s a lively atmosphere in Eden Park, including a huge roar at kickoff.
Sweden have the ball early on, passing it around the team for some early touches.
Hermoso makes an early run down the right, but the Sweden defence force her back.
A cross is then swung in from the left but it’s an easy one for Musovic to catch. What a tournament she has had.
2 mins: Spain 0-0 Sweden
- 15 Aug 2023 - 08:01(08:01 GMT)
Sweden get us under way, kicking from right to left as it appears on the screen.
The semifinal is go!
1 minute: Spain 0-0 Sweden
- 15 Aug 2023 - 07:59(07:59 GMT)
Kickoff just moments way
Sweden are wearing all yellow and will line up in a 4-2-3-1 formation.
Spain are in red shirts and blue shorts. They are playing in a 4-1-2-3 shape, to begin with.
The referee is Edina Alves from Brazil.
It’s almost time!
- 15 Aug 2023 - 07:56(07:56 GMT)
Time for the anthems
The players were in the tunnel for what felt like an absolute age. No wonder there were some nervous faces about.
They are finally out and lined up for the anthems.
First up it’s Spain.
- 15 Aug 2023 - 07:52(07:52 GMT)
Players about to come out
Both sides are in the tunnel and ready to take to the pitch in Auckland.
The match will kick off at 8pm local time and it’s a chilly evening, with the temperature at about 11 degrees Celsius (52F).
There could be some rain too, with a few drops falling during the warm-up.
— Svensk Fotboll (@svenskfotboll) August 15, 2023
- 15 Aug 2023 - 07:45(07:45 GMT)
Final preparations under way
- 15 Aug 2023 - 07:39(07:39 GMT)
Unchartered territory for Spain
This is only Spain’s third appearance at a Women’s World Cup and their impressive run to the semifinals is the furthest that they have ever been at the tournament.
Prior to today, their best result at a World Cup was reaching the last 16 in France four years ago.
As for Sweden, they have a lot more experience of the latter stages at a World Cup.
Today will be their fifth appearance in the semifinals, although they haven’t got the best record in them.
They have only progressed to the final once, back in 2003 when they finished as runners-up in the USA.
One final hurdle. 🚧
Who takes the first spot in the #FIFAWWC 2023 Final? 🇪🇸🇸🇪
— FIFA Women's World Cup (@FIFAWWC) August 15, 2023
- 15 Aug 2023 - 07:24(07:24 GMT)
The final match in New Zealand
Today’s semifinal is the last time that a match at this World Cup will be played in New Zealand.
There were fears about ticket sales prior to the tournament getting under way, but aside from a few group games, New Zealanders have turned out in good numbers.
Eden Park is the venue today and fans of Sweden and Spain are gearing up for a cracker.
- 15 Aug 2023 - 07:17(07:17 GMT)
Peter Gerhardsson sticks with the same side that started Sweden’s quarterfinal against Japan. He’s generally not made too many changes in this tournament, sticking with his preferred side throughout.
Sweden: Zecira Musovic (GK), Jonna Andersson, Magdalena Eriksson, Kosovare Asllani (C), Stina Blackstenius, Amanda Ilestedt, Nathalie Bjorn, Filippa Angeldal, Fridolona Rolfo, Johanna Kaneyrd, Elin Rubensson.
Semifinalelvan är här 🔥
— Svensk Fotboll (@svenskfotboll) August 15, 2023
- 15 Aug 2023 - 07:09(07:09 GMT)
Two changes for Spain
Jorge Vilda makes two changes to Spain’s lineup from the team that beat the Netherlands in the quarterfinal.
Olga Carmona and Alexia Putellas come in to replace Esther Gonzalez and Oihane Hernandez.
Spain: Cata Coll (GK), Ona Batlle, Teresa Abelleira, Iene Paredes, Aitana Bonmati, Mariona Caldentey, Jennifer Hermoso, Alexia Putellas, Laia Codina, Alba Redondo, Olga Carmona.
👥 ¡Y ESTA SERÁ LA DISPOSICIÓN!
📺 𝗔 𝗹𝗮𝘀 𝟭𝟬:𝟬𝟬 (hora española) en @La1_tve.
😱 ¡SEMIFINAL DE LA COPA DEL MUNDO!
— Selección Española Femenina de Fútbol (@SEFutbolFem) August 15, 2023
- 15 Aug 2023 - 06:57(06:57 GMT)
Bidding for their first World Cup title, Sweden will play their fifth semi-final at the global showpiece against a Spanish team whose best at two previous World Cups was the round of 16.
Sweden have become regulars in the latter stages at recent competitions, having reached the last four at the 2019 World Cup and at last year’s European Championship. They also made the final at the Tokyo Olympics before losing to Canada.
Spain failed to qualify for the first six editions of the Women’s World Cup, but once La Roja made the tournament in 2015, they’ve made a steady climb towards joining the global elite.
Spain scored their first point with a draw in its World Cup debut. Four years later, Spain advanced to the knockout round before it was eliminated by the US team, which went on to clinch a second consecutive championship.
Now in their third World Cup, the Spaniards have reached their first semi-final in a major tournament since the 1997 European Championships.
Spain are winless in 11 meetings against Sweden – none of which were at a World Cup – and have lost seven of those games. The teams drew 1-1 in a friendly in October in Cordoba.
There was non-stop drama in the #FIFAWWC Quarter-Finals! 🎭
— FIFA Women's World Cup (@FIFAWWC) August 14, 2023
- 15 Aug 2023 - 06:47(06:47 GMT)
Zecira Musovic: Sweden’s breakout star
Sweden’s talented and social-media savvy goalkeeper Zecira Musovic has been in the spotlight after heroic performances in the Women’s World Cup.
She made a World Cup-record 11 saves in the win over the United States and followed it up with crucial saves in the semi-final win over Japan.
Now she faces a huge test to stop Spain from adding to their 15 World Cup goals in this tournament.
- 15 Aug 2023 - 06:43(06:43 GMT)
Salma Paralluelo: Spain’s ‘unique’ rising star
Coach and teammates say the 19-year-old Barcelona winger, who scored a stunning winner in the quarterfinal, is destined for greatness.
Spain coach Jorge Vilda calls her a player with speed, power and “innate talent”.
“She is a player with enormous potential, and she is a long way from touching the ceiling in terms of what she can do,” Vilda said.
- 15 Aug 2023 - 06:36(06:36 GMT)
Spain’s playmaker Bonmati and defender Laia Codina are both dealing with 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 after coming off the bench, or again use the pacy 19-year-old Barcelona star as an impact substitute.
Gerhardsson said winger Sofia Jakobsson had very “mild symptoms of illness” but he expected all of Sweden’s squad to be available for the clash against Spain at Auckland’s Eden Park.
- 15 Aug 2023 - 06:30(06:30 GMT)
Amanda Ilestedt, Sweden’s unlikely Golden Boot candidate
Sweden centre-back Amanda Ilestedt is an unlikely candidate to claim the Golden Boot at the Women’s World Cup, but such a win would come as no surprise to her teammates.
Ilestedt has four goals for the tournament, one shy of the leading Hinata Miyazawa, who can no longer add to her tally after Japan’s elimination by Sweden in the quarterfinals.
All of Ilestedt’s goals have come from set pieces, while eight out of Sweden’s 11 goals at the tournament have followed dead-ball setups.
“I think set pieces is one our biggest strengths and something we work on,” Sweden captain Kosovare Asllani told reporters on Monday.
“I mean, Amanda is amazing, but we have so many players that are really good in the area. In the end, I don’t think anyone cares who’s the leading goal-scorer. The only thing we’re thinking about is winning games.”
- 15 Aug 2023 - 06:25(06:25 GMT)
Alexia Putellas’s semi-final role remains unclear
Alexia Putellas, a two-time Ballon d’Or winner widely regarded as the sport’s best player, wasn’t a guarantee to even make Spain’s squad ahead of the World Cup after she tore her ACL last year.
The 29-year-old midfielder was a substitute in Spain’s first match of this World Cup, started the second match of group play but has been used sparingly since.
The Barcelona star has played in all five of Spain’s matches but hasn’t been on the field for more than an hour in any match and has logged just 155 minutes in total. She has no goals but does have an assist in the tournament.
On Monday, Vilda wouldn’t commit to how Putellas will be used against Sweden.
“We are very happy with the level Alexia has reached. Since the first day of training, we have noticed this,” Vilda said. “It is true that she is in the process of a recovery of nine or 10 months. We’ve adapted, … and Alexia is ready for everything.”
Picking up the slack in Putellas’s absence has been Aitana Bonmati, who has scored three goals in this World Cup to tie with teammates Hermoso and Alba Maria Redondo Ferrer as Spain’s most prolific scorers.
- 15 Aug 2023 - 06:20(06:20 GMT)
Vilda credits federation’s support over player revolt for Spain’s success
Vilda says his team would not be in the Women’s World Cup semi-finals if Spain’s football federation had not backed him during a player revolt almost a year ago when 15 players threatened to quit.
Back then, they said that playing under the coach was “significantly affecting their emotional state” and health.
The Spanish federation’s boss threw his support behind Vilda, who froze out the mutineers from his squad before welcoming some of them back for the World Cup.
“First of all, I would like to acknowledge the backing and the support of our president, Luis Rubiales, from the very first day,” he told reporters. “Without that, we would not be here. I’m quite sure all of this would not have happened.”
At a press conference, Hermoso, who had expressed solidarity for the protesting players on social media at the time, said Spain’s team was “motivated like never before and full of confidence”.
“I don’t want to think about everything that happened in the past. I just want to enjoy this sport, to inspire our country with this team,” she said.
- 15 Aug 2023 - 06:01(06:01 GMT)
Sweden’s experience ‘could be the key’, Asllani says
Sweden captain Kosovare Asllani believes her team’s far greater experience of going far at major tournaments will give them the edge at Eden Park.
The Swedes have become regulars in the latter stages at recent competitions, having reached the last four at the 2019 World Cup and at last year’s European Championship. They also made the final at the Tokyo Olympics before losing to Canada.
“We have the benefit of experience,” Asllani said.
“We have gone far in the last few tournaments, but I am particularly pleased with the way we have done it this time. We have won our matches in different ways, and it shows the strength of this team.
“Experience could be the key, but we are just raring to go and really looking forward to the game. As far as I am concerned, now it is just about spreading the calm and enjoying the moment.”
- 15 Aug 2023 - 05:47(05:47 GMT)
Gerhardsson no stranger to semifinals
Since taking over the team in 2017, Peter Gerhardsson has steered Sweden to the semifinals of both the 2019 World Cup in France and last year’s European Championships, where they were eliminated by eventual champions England.
Asked if he is now used to coaching in major semifinals, Gerhardsson shrugged.
“I do feel, however, that it’s a wonderful new experience,” he told reporters.
“It’s only when you get into the actual game that you can figure out what the situation is going to be like on the pitch.
“But we have a good feeling, and it’s a completely new semifinal with new emotions, good feelings about this.”
Gerhardsson believes it would be a mistake to focus too closely on trying to stop the Barcelona playmaker Aitana Bonmati, who has been one of the tournament’s standout players.
“The difficulty with Spain is that they have so many skilled players whereas other teams might have just one or two stars, so that means making sure we mark them is very important,” he said.
Stina Blackstenius = Big game player. 😎🔥
— FIFA Women's World Cup (@FIFAWWC) August 13, 2023
- 15 Aug 2023 - 05:30(05:30 GMT)
Spain have ‘goose bumps’ on eve of first semifinal
Spain’s first Women’s World Cup semifinal in their history on Tuesday is reward for years of sacrifice, veteran forward Jennifer Hermoso says, admitting to “goose bumps” at the thought of reaching the final.
“If you don’t feel any nerves before a game like this then something is not right,” the 33-year-old said on the eve of the semifinal in Auckland.
“It gives you goose bumps thinking about how close we are to the final, but first of all, we have the game tomorrow, and Spain will come out more determined than ever.”
Hermoso, who plays her club football in Mexico, has been representing her country for more than a decade and won her 100th cap earlier in the tournament.
“Tomorrow’s game is the consequence of millions of training sessions of so many moments we have been through, of spending time far from our families and loved ones, of so much sacrifice,” she said.
“We have worked so hard to get here, and I just want to enjoy it. I want the whole team to enjoy it and for the whole of Spain to be behind us.”
- 15 Aug 2023 - 05:15(05:15 GMT)
Spain will stick to the script, Vilda says
Emotions were running high in the Spain camp after beating the Netherlands 2-1 in the quarter-finals.
Several players broke down in tears, including veteran forward Jenni Hermoso, who spoke of playing to a crowd of 300 people early in her international career. Vilda said the team had been working with a psychologist who had taught them how to manage their emotions.
“He’s also told us that it’s OK to cry,” he added. “I was very emotional, not only for Jenni but for the situation of other players who have been through this.”
Vilda said Sweden’s “obvious” strengths were their set pieces and physicality but Spain would not change their game plan to tackle the Scandinavians.
“Everyone recognises the way that we play. Tomorrow we will keep to our script,” he said on Monday.
“It’s going to have to be the best version of Spain to be able to win the game.”
🥲 No vamos a llorar, no vamos a llorar…
¡VALE, SÍ! ¡HEMOS LLORADO! 🥺❤️
— Selección Española Femenina de Fútbol (@SEFutbolFem) August 11, 2023
- 15 Aug 2023 - 05:05(05:05 GMT)
Welcome to the blog
Hello and welcome to our coverage of the Women’s World Cup 2023 semi-final clash between Spain and Sweden in Auckland, New Zealand.
Styles make fights, and this promises to be an epic battle between a high-scoring Spain side, which likes to keep the ball and plays with attacking flair, and a strong, physical Swedish team of set-piece experts.
Spain have scored 15 goals en route to reaching their first ever Women’s World Cup semi-final and knocked out 2019 runners-up the Netherlands in the previous round.
Sweden reached a third semi-final in their last four World Cups by winning all three group games, knocking out holders the United States on penalties and then beating the much-fancied Japan 2-1 in the last eight.
While Spain’s coach, Jorge Vilda, reckons Sweden are slight favourites to beat his side, Spanish winger Fridolina Rolfo is not so sure.
“I don’t know what team is the favourite in this game,” Rolfo said. “When you reach the semifinals, there are only good teams. I know they have a great team, and so do we.”
The game kicks off at 8pm (08:00 GMT) at Eden Park, Auckland.
Source: Al Jazeera