With the biggest match for Group D in the Women’s World Cup on Friday, a lot of tensions have built between the U.S and Sweden.
The matchup between America and Sweden, the second and fifth team in the world respectively, has a lot on the line. Not to mention that the current Sweden head coach, Pia Sundhage was the United States head coach from 2007 to 2012, leading them to two Olympic gold medals and the finals in the 2011 Women’s World Cup.
The New York Times published an article on Tuesday about Sundhage and her life as a footballer and coach on the move. The coach did not hesitate to talk about some of her former players from the United States, including Carli Lloyd, Hope Solo, and Abby Wambach.
She admitted that “Carli Lloyd was a challenge to coach,” and that “if she began to question her faith (in herself), she could be one of the worst (players).” She also told NYT that Solo was one of the most difficult players to coach “especially when it comes to trouble.” Lastly, she bashed Wambach by saying if she was still coach, Wambach would most definitely be a substitute.
Besides the trash talk, Sundhage knows the Americans more than any other outsider. Although there are new players since when she coached, she knows how the majority of the players work. United States midfielder Tobin Heath understands that the team needs to be in tip-top shape in order to beat the Swedes.
“We’re facing off against her so she’s going to be super familiar with us,” Heath said in a press conference. “I think in that way there’s not going to be many surprises, which is why we are going to have to be so good.”
Besides Sundhage knowing the the Americans very well, she also has very impressive team. Despite Sweden’s tie to Nigeria 3-3 earlier this week, the Swedes will be after revenge to gain the top spot in the group.
And that’s for good reason, considering how much easier the path will be for the winners of group D. The runners-up will most likely play Brazil and then Japan as well as traveling across the country and having one less days rest. If the U.S wins this game on Friday against Sweden, they will win the group.
So the pressure is on for both teams, we’ll see who comes out on top.