July 15, 2011

3rd Place Match: France vs. Sweden

France (#7) vs. Sweden (#5)
Sinsheim (11:30 am eastern)

Last Meeting: Sweden 3, France 1 (March 14, 2007)

Coach: Bruno Bini
WC Matches: Defeated Nigeria 1-0; Defeated Canada 4-0, Lost to Germany 2-4, Defeated England 1-1 (4-3 PK); Lost to United States 1-3.

Goalkeepers: Berangere Sapowicz (4 gms, 1.34 gaa, 2 shutouts); Celine Deville (2 gms, 1.90 gaa), Laetitia Philippe.
Defenders: Laura Georges (5 gms, 1 goal); Laure LePailleur (5 gms); Sonia Bompastor (4 gms, 1 goal); Sabrina Viguier (2 gms); Ophelie Meilleroux (2 gms); Wendie Renard (2 gms), Corine Franco.
Midfielders: Elise Bussaglia (5 gms, 1 goal); Gaetane Thiney (5 gms, 2 goals); Camille Abily (5 gms, 1 goal, 1 assist); Louisa Necib (5 gms, 1 assist); Sandrine Soubeyrand (5 gms, 2 assists); Laure Boulleau (2 gms); Caroline Pizzala.
Forwards: Marie-Laure Delie (5 gms, 2 goals); Elodie Thomis (5 gms, 1 goal); Eugenie LeSommer (5 gms, 1 assist); Sandrine Bretigny (1 gm).

Coach: Thomas Dennerby
WC Matches: Defeated Colombia 1-0; Defeated Korea DPR 1-0; Defeated United States 2-1; Defeated Australia 3-1; Lost to Japan 1-3.

Goalkeepers: Hedvig Lindahl (5 gms, 1.00 gaa, 2 shutouts); Kristin Hammarstrom, Sofia Lundgren.
Defenders: Charlotte Rohlin (5 gms); Sara Thunebro (5 gms); Sara Larsson (5 gms); Annica Svensson (5 gms); Linda Sembrandt (1 gm); Lina Nilsson (1 gm).
Midfielders: Lisa Dahlkvist (5 gms, 3 goals); Therese Sjogran (5 gms, 1 goal, 2 assists); Linda Forsberg (5 gms); Caroline Seger (3 gms); Nilla Fischer (4 gms, 1 goal); Marie Hammarstrom (2 gms); Sofia Jakobsson (2 gms); Antonia Goransson (2 gms).
Forwards: Lotta Schelin (5 gms, 1 goal, 2 assists); Josefine Oqvist (4 gms, 1 goal); Jessica Landstrom (3 gms, 1 goal); Madelaine Edlund (2 gms).

Both of these two teams have to be disappointed that they are not playing Sunday for the World Cup, instead of Saturday for 3rd place. Sweden grabbed the early lead against Japan and were tied until the 60th minute, but just didn't look to be the same team that won their first four matches in Germany.

France tied their match against the United States in the 2nd half and certainly looked to be outplaying them, before giving up two goals in the last 15 minutes. France can take heart in that their two defeats in this tournament were to the two top ranked teams in the world heading in. They can also be proud in that this will be their highest World Cup finish ever.

One never knows quite how coaches will approach a third place match. Certainly the pressure is now off for Bruno Bini and Thomas Dennerby. Caroline Seger has been nursing an injury and sadly missed Wednesday's semifinal match. Her presence was greatly missed by Sweden.

It will be interesting to see if the two coaches try to play some of their younger players or if they attempt to get everyone into the match that hasn't played yet. Of course, everyone has played in at least one match for Sweden, save for their two backup goalkeepers, Kristin Hammarstrom and Sofia Lundgren. For France, third keeper Laetitia Philippe, defender Corine Franco, and midfielder Caroline Pizzala have not yet seen action.

For some of these players, it will be their last World Cup game. Certainly, that is the case for Sandrine Soubeyrand of France, who will be the oldest player for either team at age 37. She now has over 160 caps in her great career. Sweden's all-time cap leader, Therese Sjogran, will likely be playing in her last World Cup match as well. Probably the same could be said of defender Sara Larsson.

It is very surprising that these two European powers have not met since the 2007 Algarve Cup, over four years ago. Sweden won that meeting 3-1. Josefine Oqvist scored the first goal in that match.

Another prize up for grabs is the Adidas Golden Boot award. Heading into this weekend's matches, Marta and Homare Sawa are tied with four goals. Sawa has one game remaining. Just one goal behind them is Sweden's Lisa Dahlkvist with three. Both Gaetane Thiney and Marie-Laure Delie have two for France and are certainly not out of the running.

While third place is the prize for this match, the two teams will really be playing more for pride than anything else. The winner will finish third and can claim to be the top finishing European team in the tournament.