The Women’s World Cup enters its final stages this weekend, and the third-place match kicks things off Saturday in Nice. It’s the match neither team wants to be in, but one will have to settle for third in the tournament with a win.
England vs. Sweden
World Cup free pick: Draw
Both teams have recent history in the third-place game. England won it in 2015, and Sweden did the same in 2011.
England will have to play this match without Millie Bright, who was sent off after picking up two yellow cards against the United States in the semifinals, but the Lionesses still look to be a team motivated to finish on a high note. Ellen White had a terrific performance in the semis, and look for her to be extraordinary again against the Swedes. Lucy Bronze and Steph Houghton will need to step it up defensively, as well, without Bright to keep the back line together.
Sweden has surprised en route to this match. The Swedes defeated Germany in the quarterfinals and only lost to the Dutch in extra time. Their goalkeeper, Hedvig Lindahl, has had some incredible performances in this tournament, and expect her to do the same in this match for pride. They will also need more from Sofia Jakobsson and Stina Blackstenius. Their production carries the Swedes, so they’re going to be vital pieces to any bid to defeat the Lionesses. Sweden will also need to protect Kosovare Asllani, who was fouled several times against the Dutch. The Swedes need her motor in the middle and they can’t have that if she’s constantly getting beat up on the ball.
Expect this to be a long affair that ends scoreless after 90 minutes (+1000). In the end White will score the first goal and the last during extra time to put England on top.