The Spanish team got off to the best possible start in the 2023-2024 Women’s Nations League, a key competition to qualify for next year’s Paris Olympics, after defeating its theoretically most direct rival in the group 2-3. Sweden, whom he once again took to task and crushed him in agony.
After the powerful speech from Alexia Putellas and Irene Paredes in the preview, the world champion also did what she does best: she played a star at the premiere, which she showcased in Gothenburg, especially in a great second half. Spain “forgot” the physical and mental fatigue and were able to get the decisive three points with a penalty from Mariona Caldentey in the 96th minute, which rewarded their attitude.
Montse Tomé’s first eleven, captained by Irene Paredes, had new characteristics on the offensive side, with the entry of Lucía García as a reference at the top and Athenea del Castillo on the right wing, while Laia Aleixandri was the partner of the Baskin at center was defense.
Sweden gave their team an offensive touch and were a little more aggressive, but their formula was much more similar to that of the World Cup semi-finals, almost always taking refuge in their own field and very careful to prevent the Bonmatí-Abelleira-Putellas trio from getting in be able to assert its quality. She managed to do this several times, although she was not that strong against the always dangerous Mariona Caldentey.
In any case, it was the one from Sant Pere de Ribes who was the first to warn with a shot outside the penalty area, which posed the greatest challenge for the world champion, which was saved by Musovic. This caught the attention of the locals, who responded with a quick move from the left and a powerful final volley from Angeldal that went over the bar. Sweden stepped up and gained the advantage on the scoreboard in one of its specialties, the set piece. Magdalena Eriksson, standing unmarked, headed the ball behind for the first time since the Japan game.
The 1-0 was damaging to the Spanish team, which reacted slowly but also knew how to stay calm and conceded little apart from a header from Asllani. Spain got back into the game and equalized before half-time, with Musovic failing to clear a shot from Athenea del Castillo, which was a joy in equally difficult days. The world champion was even superior, but before the break Cata Coll had a good hand with a brilliant counterattack from Angeldal.
After the consideration period, Montse Tomé’s team came out much better and could have turned the game around. The Spanish midfielders finally began to assert themselves and the visitors had a good carousel of chances with Athenea del Castillo, Lucía García and especially Aitana Bonmatí, who saw her shot from point-blank range fired in by a quick and brave Musovic.
Sweden once again demonstrated their competitiveness and tried to respond with their weapons and physicality, but each time they left more space. Athenea del Castillo had a good one-on-one without good definition after a moment of local pressure in the Cata Coll area and Mariona Caldentey was unable to capitalize on the rebound. Peter Gerhadsson noticed his team’s decline and made a triple substitution to recharge their batteries.
Eva Navarro for Athenea del Castillo was the first change and the Murcian was ultimately the key to a brave and confident Spain. The Murcian received alone on the right, countered with quality and placed the ball well out of Musovic’s reach to make it 1-2, a joy that didn’t last long. Sweden unbalanced Spain for the first time in the second half and Hurtig missed the loose ball in the penalty area after Blackstenius’ challenge.
The world champion was not intimidated and still had the strength to go for it in the home straight, taking more risks than her rival. Once again his daring and character rewarded him with a last-gasp penalty from Ilestedt against Amaiur Sarriegi, which Mariona Caldentey could not forgive, to once again execute the Swedes in extremis and lay the foundations for Paris.