Sweden Sweden vs. Australia Australia

Sunday, July 10th 2011, 13.00 CET

I am sure that not many people expected for this match to happen now, in the quarter finals. Sweden’s 2-1 win over the USA was seen as a shock result (though I predicted it here), while very few people believed an underdog like Australia could overturn a former World Cup winner like Norway (I was one of those people, read here). They did though, by coming back into the game from 0-1 to 2-1 and eventually historically reaching the quarter finals. Tomorrow in Augsburg, the two “surprisingly good” teams will compete for a spot in the semi-finals of the German tournament.

Sweden is not a surprise team in the quarter finals.

They’ve even reached the final of the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2003, only to be defeated by Germany. They ended up third in the first official Women’s World Cup in 1991. Actually, they never went home earlier than the quarter finals. And as the world’s 5th best team, I am sure they are glad to meet up with Australia, the world’s 11, rather than Brazil. The Swedes are coming after a fantastic run in the group stage, with 3 victories out of 3, and with only one goal conceded. And though they’re not the best goalscorers (only 4 goals so far), they certainly impressed by their patience, enthousiasm and teamwork.

With the momentum gained from the victory against USA,

Sweden are confident that their next match will just be a formality

against the long-awaited semi-finals against either Brazil or USA. But if there is one lesson that their Nordic friends, the Norwegians, learned from their match against Australia, it’s that you shouldn’t underestimate the Aussies. Unlike the Matildas, who are ready and willing to get back into the game against all odds (they proved that against Norway), Sweden’s strategy is rather focused on aggressive attack at the beginning (with its benefits), and defense plus counter-attack towards the end. It will be enjoying to see that gamestyle compete against that of the Aussies.

Australia, on the other hand, is not familiar with the quarter finals. The first time they reached this stage was during the World Cup’s last edition in 2007. Back then they bravely resisted against mighty Brazil, losing eventually at 2-3. A great performance from the Matildas though, on their first quarter finals match. Though they’re now only on the 11th place in the world rankings, they surely improved lately. Last year, the Aussie girls won the AFC Women’s Asian Cup, their first time ever. And now they just eliminated a World Cup winner after a spectacular comeback made possible by Kyah Simon.

Looking at previous encounters, out of eight games between the two teams, Australia just won one. And clearly they’re the underdog in this one. But that gives them an advantage: the Ausralians have nothing to lose, whereas Sweden has everything to lose should they fail to win tomorrow. Combine that with the morale gained after beating a world cup holder, and you get a bunch of really eager and motivated Aussies. But will their enthousiasm make the difference on Sunday? The bookies don’t think so, with Australia receiving 4.4 odds from Bwin, whereas Sweden got 1.75. It’s still more than in Germany’s game.

For this game, I am expecting at most 3 goals, since neither of the two is known for its goal-scoring abilities. I’m going with 2 units for a U3.5 bet at 1.28 odds. And now, for the first time, I will bet on an exact score: My football tip is that Sweden wins 2-1. Odds on Bwin are 9 for that exact score. I’m staking 1 unit there!

Prediction: U3.5 goals for 2 units, and Sweden to win 2-1!

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