- England face Sweden in Match for Third Place
- Both have been stressing the importance of claiming a podium spot
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It's the match that neither of these sides wanted to be involved in. But while the wounds from their semi-final defeats still smart, England and Sweden are now focused on applying a positive sheen to their FIFA Women's World Cup™ campaigns.
"It's about the medal," Sweden coach Peter Gerhardsson said after losing to the Netherlands on Wednesday. "Ending up third of course feels a lot better than ending up fourth. We'll do everything in our power to try to do that."
Gerhardsson's England counterpart, Phil Neville, is just as motivated. “The minute the game [against USA] finished, my first thought was, 'How do we win on Saturday?' We have a three-year plan and I’ll see on Saturday the attitude, the concentration and the commitment of my players. And they won’t let me down, because they never have.”
These sides met last November in a pre-tournament friendly, which the Swedes won 2-0. That was England's first home defeat since 2015 and, while they are the higher-ranked of the two sides, the Lionesses know from that painful experience how dangerous the speedy Swedes can be.
England-Sweden: Match for Third Place, Nice, 6 July, 17:00
Team Reporter analysis
England end their campaign back in Nice, where Phil Neville has been treating his team with kid gloves in some ways, allowing the heartache of the USA defeat to heal as they get back to business. The Lionesses will be without Millie Bright, who is suspended following her late sending off in Tuesday's semi-final, while players and staff have rallied round Bright’s central defensive partner and captain, Steph Houghton, following her spot-kick miss. The extra day and familiar surroundings of Nice have helped England to refocus, and everyone involved seems determined to finish their French odyssey on a high. To do that, they will need to concentrate on retaining possession, closing the gaps between their midfielders and in behind the defenders, while remaining true to their attacking approach. And keep an eye on Ellen White, who can still beat Alex Morgan to the adidas Golden Boot.
Losing to the Netherlands in extra time was a heart-breaking way for their Women's World Cup dream to end, and the last thing they want to do now is go back home empty-handed. If anything, being so close to the Final seems to have made the players even more determined to win that bronze medal. “I would never forgive myself if we didn’t manage to recharge and give everything for the third-place match,” Linda Sembrant said in the aftermath of that semi-final defeat. So, while the mental and physical impact of that 120-minute battle with the Dutch is sure to take a toll, expect a focused and fiercely determined Swedish side in Nice. England will see that Gerhardsson's side won’t back down without a fight.