243 days after Sweden ran out 3-2 winners over Germany in the 1995 World Cup group stage – a tournament Germany went on to reach the final of as the hosts fell at the quarterfinals – Stina Blackstenius was born. Having been bested by Germany in the final of the European Championship in 1995, two and a half months before the World Cup; at senior level, Germany reigned supreme over their Nordic neighbours.
Blågult would have to wait another 24 years and 22 days to beat Germany at a major tournament again. Blackstenius’ thumping finish from close range early in the second half the difference come the full-time whistle.
There was an inevitability about the meeting of the two nations, France 2019 marked the fifth successive major tournament meeting of the pair, and the Swedish players knew they’d be meeting Germany no matter what. That’s just how the chips fall for Blågult, a group stage clash with the USA, something overly predictable for the Scandinavians. Yet, after all the knockouts and misery inflicted by Die Mannschaft on Sweden, the players had no fear, the belief that they could beat their familiar foe a growing one.
On Saturday afternoon, in an uncomfortably hot Rennes, Lina Magull’s early goal – and Sweden’s lax defending – looked to be following a pre-written script, however, the unfancied nation rallied. Sofia Jakobsson’s well-timed run to latch into Linda Sembrant’s lofted ball enough to level the scores. Blackstenius’ winner early in the second half, the striker’s slice of history this summer, Blågult falling back on their defence as the clock ran down for Germany.
The last team to book their spot in the last four, Sweden are the rank unfavourites to win this World Cup, the team who knocked them out of the Euros two years ago, Netherlands the team bookies have backed to reach the final. Just like the Dutch, Sweden are growing into the tournament after a rocky group stage, and just like the belief that they could finally beat Germany, the Swedes have a swelling confidence that they could pull off a surprise this summer. And hey, crazier things have happened, right?
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