Both teams have an opportunity to win Group C with a victory when they meet Wednesday at Women's World Cup Stadium in Wolfsburg, Germany.
The U.S. women’s national team has had an easy run so far at the Women’s World Cup, but the toughest challenge is still to come as the top-ranked squad gears up for a familiar foe.
After coasting past North Korea and Colombia, the Americans are set to face Sweden to determine the winner of Group C Wednesday evening in Wolfsburg. Unlike its first two games, the U.S. is expecting a challenge.
“They are one of the strongest teams in the tournament and it’s unfortunate that we both get paired in the same group,” U.S. forward Abby Wambach said. “We know this game is not going to be easy. We believe it is going to be a hard-fought game and the best team will be left standing.”
The U.S. has been the best team in Group C so far, outscoring its opponents 5-0 and firing the most shots of any team in the tournament with 46. Sweden, the fifth-ranked team in the world, has been the second best as it also had two shutout wins over North Korea and Colombia.
The U.S. and Sweden have already advanced to the quarterfinals but they are battling for first place in their group. The Americans need a win or a draw to finish first, while the Swedes need a win due to the fact that the U.S. has the advantage in goal differential, which is the tie-breaker to determine placement in group play.
“Sweden’s a great team and we have to give them a lot of respect,” U.S. midfielder Carli Lloyd said. “They have a good midfield. They’re good in the air and have two great forwards up top. We’re not worried and we’ve been through this before. We’ll continue to focus on what we have to do attacking them and defending as well.”
If the U.S. wins or draws, it will travel to Augsburg to face the second-place team in Group D. With a loss, it would travel back to Dresden for a matchup against the winner of Group D, which will likely be Brazil. Norway and Australia are playing for second place in Group D on Wednesday.
After its 3-0 victory over Colombia, the U.S. trained in Wolfsburg for the last three days in preparation for its fourth all-time meeting against Sweden in Women’s World Cup play. This will be the second time in 2011 the teams will meet. The U.S. dropped a 2-1 decision to Sweden at the Four Nations Tournament in China on Jan. 21.
“Coming out and facing North Korea in the first game we didn’t know what to expect. Same thing with Colombia and they did a great job of hanging with us the full game,” said Lloyd, who scored her team’s only goal in the January matchup. “It brings more confidence to people knowing we have faced Sweden. We know what to expect but at the end of the day being at a World Cup is a different animal.”
Sweden, however, will be playing without captain Caroline Seger, who is suspended for the game due to yellow cards picked up in the first two games.