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World Cup scouting report: How Sweden could beat the USWNT

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Star forward Fridolina Rolfö leads Sweden into the 2023 Women's World Cup. (Annelie Cracchiolo/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)

As the U.S. women’s national team prepares for the 2023 World Cup, Just Women’s Sports is taking a look at its opponents — including its three group-stage adversaries and its potential matchups in the knockout rounds.

Next up is a team that’s been something of an Achilles heel for the USWNT in the past: Sweden.

Manager: Peter Gerhardsson

Peter Gerhardsson has led the Swedish women’s national team since 2017, succeeding former USWNT manager Pia Sundhage following the 2017 Euros. Before that, he coached in Swedish professional leagues and served as head coach of Sweden’s U17 men’s squad.

Under Gerhardsson, Sweden placed third at the 2019 World Cup and won silver at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, losing to Canada in the final.

Key player: Fridolina Rolfö

Barcelona star Fridolina Rolfö is one of many threatening players Sweden boasts on its roster. With 25 goals in 77 appearances for Sweden, Rolfö has made her name as one of the best players in the world. The 29-year-old forward headlines a group that also includes world-class players Sofia Jakobsson, Anna Sandberg, Stina Blackstenius and Kosovare Asllani.

World Cup history

Sweden has played in every World Cup since 1999, when they made the quarterfinals in their first-ever tournament. In 2003, they advanced all the way to the final before losing to Germany. Sweden has also appeared in two World Cup semifinals in 2011 and 2019.

Group Stage schedule

Sweden will play in Group G alongside South Africa, Italy and Argentina. Take a look at the schedule below, or check out the full World Cup schedule.

  • Sunday, July 23 – 1 a.m. (FS1)
    • Sweden vs. South Africa
  • Saturday, July 29 – 3:30 a.m. (FS1)
    • Sweden vs. Italy
  • Wednesday, Aug. 2 – 3 a.m. (FOX)
    • Sweden vs. Argentina

Keys to beat the USWNT

Play to their strengths. This is an experienced team that knows how to beat the USWNT in big moments.

Most recently, Sweden defeated the U.S. 3-0 in their group-stage opener at the Tokyo Olympics. The Swedes also famously knocked the USWNT out of the 2016 Olympics, sending them home without a medal. It was the first three-goal loss for the USWNT in a major tournament since the 2007 World Cup semifinals. In both of those Olympic Games, Sweden finished with the silver medal.

The No. 3 team in the world, according to the FIFA rankings, Sweden has experience on its side. While defender Hanna Glas is absent from the World Cup with a knee injury, Magdalena Eriksson, Linda Sembrant and Nathalie Björn fill out the backline. Midfielder Caroline Seger is the anchor of this team, with over 230 appearances in what will likely be her final World Cup.

Familiar faces like Jakobsson, Blackstenius and Lina Hurtig all provided a boost against the USWNT in Tokyo and could do so again at the World Cup. Sweden has all the tools to beat the USWNT — it’s just a matter of if they can put all the pieces together and stay healthy.