Stina Blackstenius, Sweden eyeing Chile in World Cup opener

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RENNES, FRANCE - JUNE 09: Stina Blackstenius and Mimmi Larsson of Sweden pose for a portrait during the official FIFA Women's World Cup 2019 portrait session at Hotel Mercure Rennes Centre Gare on June 09, 2019 in Rennes, France. (Photo by Ben Radford - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

Preview (June 9, 2019) — The memory is still fresh of Sweden slaying the United States Women’s National Team two years ago in the Rio Olympics. Stina Blackstenius put the Blagult ahead, then Christen Press skied a chance in penalties against Hedvig Lindahl.

Stina Blackstenius, Sweden eyeing Chile in World Cup opener

The Soccer Gods have a sense of humor, as Sweden are in Group F with the USWNT. However, they will play on the final match day of their group, possibly to decide first place in the group. Before that happens, they need to get a result against Chile, who are Women’s World Cup debutantes.

La Roja appear talented but are unproven on a stage like this. They lost just one game of the final stage of World Cup Qualification out of COMNEBOL, but have struggled in friendlies in 2019. They are winless since the start of the year, including two loses to Jamaica, who are questionable to get out of Group C.

Manager Peter Gerhardsson will have Sweden playing his possession-based attacking style. They have the talent and cohesion to defeat Chile comfortably. Kosovare Asllani will pull the strings from midfield in Sweden’s 4-2-3-1, with the aforementioned Stina Blackstenius looking to get on the end of plays.

Chile do have some hope in this tournament. While they’ll be very defensive in their first two games (against Sweden and the United States in that order), their best player is starting goalkeeper and captain Christiane Endler. Prior to the Word Cup, she was named Goalkeeper of the Year in France off a fantastic season with Paris Saint-Germain.

If she can hold things down at the back, Chile will have  a chance to get something from this match. The same could be said for their second game, facing the defending World Champions.

It’s still unlikely that Chile will get out of the group, but if they can hold their own in the first two games, a third match win against lowly Thailand and the right result in Sweden-United States could see them through.

Sweden will have to see that that doesn’t happen. The teams kick off their World Cup against one another on Tuesday at 12 p.m. EST.

 

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