Ranked fifth in the world with 10 straight wins and an average of over three goals per game in qualifying might look impressive, but Sweden scored the fewest goals of any group winner and coach Pia Sundhage has lamented their inability to create chances.
With Nilla Fischer at centre back, Caroline Seger anchoring the midfield and Lotta Schelin leading the front line, Sundhage sets out her team with an emphasis on strength through the middle of the pitch.
The purpose is to allow her more creative players to do what they do best, but unfortunately, despite the undoubted talents of Schelin and fellow forward Kosovare Asllani, the Swedish attack often come up short.
Never was this more apparent than in the 1-0 defeat on home soil to Germany in their Euro 2013 semi-final, where despite a slew of chances Sweden failed to deliver.
Sweden’s 2015 results in preparation for the June 6-July 5 World Cup haven’t exactly set the world alight either, losing not only to frontrunners Germany and Brazil, but also to outsiders Switzerland and drawing with a Danish side that failed to qualify.
Some players have also expressed dissatisfaction with Sundhage’s leadership, which departs somewhat from Sweden’s consensus society and introduces a more hierarchical structure to the squad.
Whatever about her management style, Sundhage is a proven winner as a coach, delivering two Olympic gold medals for World Cup favourites USA in 2008 and 2012.
Her knowledge of the Americans will be put to the test almost immediately in Group D, where they will face a tough challenge from Nigeria before taking on the United States and finishing up against Australia.
There may be some hurdles to be overcome, but it is far from all doom and gloom for the Swedes.
Despite the financial difficulties of some clubs, the top-flight Damallsvenskan league is one of the world’s best, attracting some of the top players in the game.
With enormous home support, Sundhage’s squad is blend of youth and experience, talent and skill, and if she can get her charges to remain disciplined in defence and increase their effectiveness in attack, the Swedes could well be in the shake-up in the latter stages of the World Cup.
(Editing by Frank Pingue)