World champions Germany are going to take on their European neighbors and old rivals Sweden in the Olympic quarterfinal match scheduled in Shenyang, northeast China, on Friday.
The two met four years ago in the semi-final in Athens, where Germany beat Sweden 1-0. They also faced each other in the 2003 FIFA Women's World Cup final, when the Germans won the title with an extra-time golden goal.
But Germany failed to hit the high notes in their three group matches in the Beijing Olympics. They started with a goalless draw with medal favorites Brazil and ended with a last-gasp winner from DPR Korea. They even couldn't post more than one goal in the match with underdog Nigeria of the pool.
What's good is that they have shown a hard-to-penetrate backline. Without conceding a goal, they remind the watching stand of last year's World Cup, when the Silvia Neid's side finished through with their net intact.
The team at the Olympics is almost the same as last year's and both coach Neid and star footballers such as Birgit Prinz have shown their desire for the Olympic gold. However, one thing the champions desperately need to improve is their offensiveness.
Germany have won the Women's World Cup twice but have come short of the Olympic champions.
The Scandinavians were a strong force in women's soccer and but they have been unable to produce good results in the last two years. Last year, they failed to reach the knockout stage of the FIFA World Cup in China.
This time they opened the Olympian tourney with a 2-1 defeat to host China, but managed to book the second place in the group by downing Argentina and Canada.
Even though they have yet to offer up the highly technical soccer they are renowned for, Lotta Schelin has become a successful scorer for the team, with three so far (tied for tops with Brazil's Cristiane). Whether Schelin can maintain her form will determine how far the Swedish can go.
"It will fun to play Germany as we know much about them. I think this time we can beat them," said Sweden captain Victoria Svensson.
(Xinhua News Agency August 14, 2008)