Argentina 0-2 Sweden: Business as usual for the Blågult

Sweden entered this match against Argentina knowing that they have already progressed to the knockout rounds of the FIFA Women’s World Cup, with their place as group winners all but confirmed due to the gulf in goal difference between them and Italy. The Swedish made nine changes for this game, as Peter Gerhardsson looks to rest players for their next match in the round-of-sixteen.

The Argentinians’ advancement into the round-of-sixteen isn’t as simple as their opponents. The Albiceleste would go in search of their first-ever win at a World Cup, knowing that only three points would give them any chance of qualifying from the group. However, a win against the Scandinavians would not be enough – unless Italy failed to win and Argentina bettered South Africa’s result. 

ARG: Correa, Braun, Gómez Ares, Cometti, Stábile, Sachs, Cruz, Núñez, Banini, Bonsegundo, Larroquette

SWE: Falk, Sandberg, Eriksson, Ilestedt, Lennartsson, Seger, Bennison, Schough, Janogy, Jakobsson, Blomqvist

The opening exchanges of the game didn’t offer much in terms of quality from either side, as both sides looked to size up their opponent. Within this chess match, neither side held back when entering tackles as the first half witnessed a number of feisty challenges.

The first half lacked action from both sides, with two chances for Olivia Schough the only moments worth noting. She headed wide from a fine cross from the right flank, and whipped in a long-range effort from a free-kick that was easily dealt with by Vanina Correa.

There was concern for Florencia Bonsegundo as the Argentine went down without any contact in an innocuous challenge. The player looked visibly distraught as she was stretchered from the pitch, seemingly understanding that this would be the cause of a long-term absence.

The beginning of the second half carried on in a similar manner to much of the first, as the Swedish looked comfortable in defence. Argentina failed to use the ball to challenge the Scandinavians, as they chased a goal to keep their slender qualification hopes alive.

Argentina’s failure to create anything of note would be punished in the 67th minute, as the Swedish displayed the quality that they have when the ball was played wide to Sofia Jakobsson. She played an early cross that was cooly headed home by Rebecka Blomqvist, seemingly putting the nail in the coffin of the Albiceleste’s round-of-sixteen hopes.

Argentina’s best chance of the game came within seconds of Yamila Rodríguez being introduced, as a ball over the top was chased down by the substitute. However, she was unable to get the touch required to take the ball past Jennifer Falk in the Swedish goal. 

The Swedish wrapped things up with a penalty that was excellently dispatched from Elin Rubensson in the 90th minute. Gabriela Chávez was seemingly manifesting the spirit of Las Yaguaretés, and made a fantastic wrap tackle – but unfortunately for her, she was playing football and not rugby, as the referee duly pointed for a penalty to Sweden.

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The Swedish knew coming into this game that they were almost certain to face the United States in the round-of-sixteen, unless they had a disastrous performance against Argentina and had Italy annihilated the South Africans. The Swedes did what was expected of them, despite the nine changes to the starting line-up, and defeated the Albiceleste. The Swedish will be confident they can progress against the Americans when they face them in Melbourne on August 6.

The Argentines will be disappointed to be going home at this stage, still in search of their first win at a World Cup. Argentina never looked threatening throughout this campaign and will need to address this as they look to improve for future World Cups, but they can take solitude in dogged defensive performances against Italy and Sweden despite suffering defeats to both European sides.