Full focus: Sweden prepare for decisive clash against Ireland

Sweden teammates embrace in celebration.
Sweden teammates celebrate after scoring against Portugal during the Algarve Cup on February 20, 2022. (Photo by Jorge Guerrero/AFP via Getty Images)

Sweden are only one point away from qualifying for the 2023 World Cup. As the side is set to play the decisive game against Ireland on Tuesday, the players are fully focused on taking the important step.

After the team’s training session on Sunday, Stina Blackstenius, Hanna Glas, and Emma Berglund spoke to the media.

Building on the outstanding success

The players’ concentration and their will for victory are clearly visible. They highlight the great atmosphere in the Sweden camp.

“It’s really good,” said defender Hanna Glas. “We are coming from a good 15-0 win against Georgia with a lot of goals. We’re happy and also looking forward to playing at home in front of our fans again.”

The result from their recent game made the headlines. However, the players had mixed feelings after the final whistle.

“Of course, we were really happy to score so many goals. But also, we pitied them a bit because it’s not easy [for them],” admitted Glas. “We know they’re not playing full time, probably.”

Despite this, defender Emma Berglund believes it is a result that her side can build on.

“It was a result that we are not that used to,” Berglund reflected. “But it gave us a lot of energy and some details that we can take into this game against Ireland.”

Game plan

Their previous meeting with Ireland in October saw Sweden take the win. However, the only goal of the game was scored by an Irish player, who put the ball behind her own keeper. Stina Blackstenius insists not to underestimate the opponent because of this result.

“We know that Ireland is a strong team to play against”, she said. “But we know that we can punish them with our attack. Our goal is to create more chances and score even more goals than in the last game. That was a tough one.”

Meanwhile, Hanna Glas has different aspects in mind, being a defender. She points out Ireland’s strength in counter-attacks. “They have a really good speed up there so with that, we are really careful”, she explained. “It’s their biggest threat, also together with set pieces.”

No strangers in the Irish team

For Blackstenius, it will be a special game, as she will come up against fellow Arsenal player Katie McCabe. The striker admits she has given her Swedish teammates some valuable insights. “It will be fun playing against Ireland and of course Katie McCabe”, she emphasized.

“We know that she is a fantastic player. Of course, we are talking about her and her qualities on the pitch.”

However, Blackstenius doesn’t think that her side needs to change their approach to the game: “We know what we are good at and we just need to get it out on the pitch.”

Continous support at home

Audiences in women’s football are currently growing. The Swedish players, on the other hand, have been relying on the support of large crowds at their home games for a long time. As the game against Ireland in Gothenburg is close to selling out, the excitement is growing in the team.

Emma Berglund appreciates the continuous support. “It’s a special feeling to play in front of our audience, especially here in Gothenburg”, she said with a smile.

“We have a long history of playing here. The atmosphere is great, it is the perfect stadium to play at and it’s actually home for us. So, we feel the fans’ support.”

Importance of the fans

Hanna Glas fully agrees with this and highlights the difference the home crowd can make for the Swedish side.

“It gives you this extra adrenaline and that’s what it’s like almost all the time, one hundred percent,” the defender said.

“But then, it’s like those extra percent, like when you’re tired and then you notice the fans are cheering you on. Then you can push yourself a bit more. It’s just cool and makes us play better.”

Berglund insists the Swedish team is going to do their best to make the game a successful one. Fans and players certainly look forward to seeing each other at the stadium on Tuesday. The possibility of celebrating the qualification for the 2023 World Cup together will be extra fuel for everyone involved.

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