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How Sweden Look Ahead Of Quarter Final Fixture Against Japan.

Sweden have reached the World Cup Quarter Finals after an astonishing victory over reigning champions the USA, which raises the question does this expertly run side have what it takes to frustrate and defeat Japan in what would be another shock result?

Everyone's eyes have been closely following the likes of Japan and Spain who breezed through both their round of 16 contests with convincing 3-1 and 5-1 victories, possibly highlighting the momentum they have to go all the way in the tournament. A team who have been overshadowed by these performances and success is Sweden as although it was clear they didn't offer much to beat the USA no one puts into perspective the strengths Sweden have been applying game to game to get across the line and achieve historic wins such as their round of 16 triumph. Sweden weren't good going forward against the USA, struggling for the full 120 minutes to put together a moment of innovation to bring the game to light and win it before partaking in a dreaded penalty shootout. However, despite their attacking frailties it's important to depict where has their success been coming from.

Sweden cruised through Group G with a flawless 9 points, topping the table without dropping a point and only conceding one goal. One goal which means a lot when discussing Sweden's success this World Cup as this goal against South Africa is the only goal which they have conceded all tournament. From the back Sweden have been phenomenal, Chelsea goalkeeper Zecira Musovic and Arsenal centre back Amanda IIestedt have been stand out performers, Musovic had been inspirational so far, her remarkable run of clean sheets in the tournament a significant indicator that she is a problem to get past. As for Amanda IIestedt her leadership and resilience has supported the Swedish backline to be a handle to breakdown. Sweden's defensive dominance is evident from the lack of creativity the USA possessed and whilst this was a personal problem for the United States throughout the competition their inability to score in this knockout fixture was still very much down to Sweden's unity and formational brilliance. They could be called lucky and underserved winners against the USA but from another point of view Sweden had their gameplan and stuck by it. The gameplan was focusing on transitional counter attacking play which ultimately gave them the chance to win on penalties as defensively they got back in numbers to ensure there was compactness but also an opportunity to break forward if the balls was won back. So, bearing Sweden's impressive defensive record in mind will their next opponents in goal scoring machines Japan find it difficult to get a grip on the game?

Captain Magdalen Eriksson is certainly buzzing to be in the Quarter Finals, the reliable defenders mentality an example of how much the squad believes in each other to perhaps cause another upset on the 11th of August. Japan will be relaxed and show no fear to the Scandinavians however one concern and area they must remain aware to is the aerial threat and danger Sweden have possessed from set pieces. Japan aren't the biggest team and it wouldn't be a surprise to see Sweden try and take advantage of this. So far, all their crosses and free kicks have been delivered with pinpoint accuracy, Sweden tend to loop the ball into the box to let any player in the box have a good run and enough time to attack the ball. This can be hard for any defender to deal with and one thing no Japan defender will want to see is IIestedt competing for the ball against them as she has already tallied up three goals this World Cup. Japan will have to be switched on for every foul and corner they concede as Sweden will see these set plays as a great chance to score.

This game will arguably be harder then the USA match for Sweden, Japan have been in impeccable form scoring 14 goals including a 4-0 victory over Spain which shocked everyone and meant they would top Group C with ease. A great challenge lies ahead for the outright underdogs who are also capable of scoring 4 or more goals in a game. Pundits or critics may say that Sweden don't show anything going forward, but Sweden defeated Italy 5-0 in the group stage phase. This demonstrates the effectiveness of their gameplan once more which could catch Japan off guard as even though they may dominate possession, Sweden have proven they can take games away from opposition when in winning positions. Furthermore, their ability to comeback from losing positions is also something for Japan to be weary of. Sweden fell 1-0 to South Africa but adapted to the nature of the game and avoided a first game upset completing a 2-1 win all because of their refusal to lose.

The major worry for Sweden in preparation for this game will be any fitness issues. Their game against the USA lasting 120 minutes will obviously raise the concern of fatigue and tiredness amongst the group however they have had almost a full week to recover so fitness shouldn't be too much of an issue. If the game was to go to extra time again then maybe Japan will have the physical edge and legs to outrun Sweden who might see all the football they have played catch up to them. Additionally, if the game goes to penalties Sweden will fancy themselves having already been exposed to the pressure. It will be interesting to see how this Quarter Final match up plays out, Sweden will want to prove all the doubters wrong as Japan remain favourites to progress. A place in the semi-finals are at stake meaning a guaranteed top four finish. Sweden will do their best to make it a tricky match, they'll look to not allow Japan through easily meaning just like the USA, Japan will have to get clever with how they go about manipulating chances to score past Musovic. Sweden face Japan on the 11th of August at 8:30 am. Eden Park Stadium awaits the two teams who will battle it out for a place in the last four, whoever progresses will face either Spain or Netherlands in the Semi Finals.

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