Heading into this Olympics from what many would call her best season ever, is Kosovare Asllani. Her second season in Primera Iberdrola for Real Madrid saw her tally 16 goals and two assists in 29 games.
This is the player that, on a very good day, makes Sweden’s sometimes unspectacular attacking play, rather spectacular. If Magdalena Eriksson is the dirigent from the back, and Caroline Seger is the engine in the midfield, Asllani makes sure that things happen in the offensive play.
Asllani has earned 148 caps for her national team. So far she has scored 38 goals and won 85 times with Sweden. While many would argue the fact Asllani is a natural No.10, still she has been used as a No. 9 during her most recent term in Spain. And she hasn’t let anyone down.
It might be her second season in Real Madrid, but only the first one in Real’s colours and club crest. The result? A Champions League qualification after coming in second behind FC Barcelona.
Asllani made her debut for the Swedish senior national team in 2008 and since then she has played a vital role. She was a part of the Olympic squad at London 2012 and helped her side win bronze at Rio 2016.
Now, when the football tournament kicks off in Tokyo, the expectations of Sweden and Asllani are bigger than ever.
What Asllani provides
In the knock-out stages of the 2019 World Cup, Asllani was an essential piece of the Swedish puzzle. First, she assisted Stina Blackstenius in the 1-0 Round of 16 win versus Canada.
The image below shows the moment when Asllani found Blackstenius with a neat touch and a precise pass.
We all know what happened next. Asllani got called out for a handball with about 20 minutes left and Canada were awarded a penalty. Janine Beckie stepped up to the spot but Hedvig Lindahl saved the attempt and Sweden were through to the quarter-finals in France.
You don’t need any statistics to back up the fact that Asllani has been a big game player for Sweden lately. Her passing abilities and her perception of where her teammates are, and where and when she should move to make her a very important player.
In the bronze match against the Lionesses, she also showed her goal-scoring abilities when she put the first goal into the back of the net. Very aware of her surroundings, she found the perfect space between England’s defenders and midfielders as seen in the next image below.
We’ll also add to this story before we move it further, that Asllani also made the assist from a corner kick back in April when Sweden drew 1-1 against USA.
Just a little reminder – in that game, she played alongside Caroline Seger for the first 60 minutes of the game, before moving deeper to take on the No.10 role. She took a lot of hits that game, never afraid to be tackled or challenge for the ball herself, but according to WyScout she won 11 out of 17 defensive duels (65% success).
Nonetheless, Asllani shows her abilities and the best version of herself as the attacking playmaker. Once again, back in June when Sweden played Norway, she assisted Blackstenius for the only goal of that game.
Perhaps, the collaboration between Asllani and Blackstenius will be Sweden’s secret weapon in Tokyo?