HomeSport'Spain so close to final it is giving me shivers'

‘Spain so close to final it is giving me shivers’


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Date: Tuesday, 15 August Kick-off: 09:00 BST Venue: Eden Park, AucklandCoverage: Watch live on BBC One, BBC iPlayer, BBC Sport website & app with build-up from 08:30 BST. Listen to commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live from 08:50. Follow live text, analysis, watch highlights and read match report & reaction on the BBC Sport website & appSpain’s record scorer Jenni Hermoso says the thought of being within one win of the Women’s World Cup final is giving her “shivers”.Spain face Sweden in Auckland on Tuesday (09:00 BST), with the winner to play either England or Australia in Sunday’s final in Sydney.”I always said that I wish I could win something with the national team and now I feel close,” said Hermoso.”We are one victory away from the World Cup final.”Spain are appearing in their first Women’s World Cup semi-final and former Barcelona forward Hermoso admitted there were nerves in the camp.She added: “If we’re not nervous then something is not going right. To be in the final, to reach the final, just thinking about it gives me shivers. We are close to achieving this.”Spain headed into their third World Cup with a cloud of doubt hanging over the squad after a feud between Vilda, who has been in charge since 2015, and many senior players.Fifteen players threatened to quit if Vilda was not fired.The Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) has thrown their full support behind the man in charge and Vilda praised his bosses when asked about the dispute on Monday.”You’re asking about the past but first of all, I would like to acknowledge the backing and the support of our president Luis Rubiales from the very first day,” he said.”Without that we would not be here. I’m quite sure all of this would not have happened.”We have a president who reacted with courage and put his trust in me and my technical team, and we are very happy about the whole process.”‘Spain have gone far enough’Despite reaching several finals, Sweden have not won a major trophy since winning the first European Championship in 1984 when only four teams took part.In addition to reaching back-to-back World Cup semi-finals and the last four of Euro 2022, they lost both finals at the 2016 and 2020 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo.”We’ve come close [to a major trophy]. Now we want to win this title for Sweden and the Swedish people,” said winger Fridolina Rolfo, who plays her club football in Spain for Barcelona.Nine of Rolfo’s club team-mates were in ‘La Roja’ squad that edged the Netherlands 2-1 in the quarter-final on Friday.”I have been cheering for them in every game,” said Rolfo.”We have been sending each other messages throughout the tournament – congratulations when they win or we win.”I want them to go far in this tournament. Or I did. I think they’ve now gone far enough.”Brown-Finnis’ predictionI backed Sweden to beat the USA and I backed them to beat Japan because they have that knowledge and history of being in World Cups and the latter stages of major tournaments.They came second at the Olympics and it’s not by luck. They know how to win and get results. Amanda Ilestedt scored a goal just when they needed against Japan. They have alternative ways of playing and can pop up with goals from a corner or a free-kick too. They don’t always need to control possession.It will be such a different test against Spain but it’s amazing neither of these teams has won the World Cup before. A lot of players in that Sweden squad will know it’s their last World Cup and they have come so close before and not won it. This is their chance and they will be desperate to go all the way.Brown-Finnis’ prediction: 1-1 AET (Sweden to win on penalties)Match statsThis is the first Women’s World Cup meeting between Spain and Sweden. They have met a major tournament once before, with Sweden winning 1-0 in the group stages of Euro 1997.Spain are competing in the Women’s World Cup semi-final for the first time, in what is their third appearance in the competition. Sweden are playing in their fifth Women’s World Cup semi-final, reaching the final in 2003 but losing in 1991, 2011 and 2019. They could become the first team to lose four times at this stage of the competition.Spain’s Teresa Abelleira has created more chances than any other player at the 2023 tournament (21). Since 2011, only Lauren Holiday (22 in 2011) and Aya Miyama (25 in 2015) have created more in a single edition of the tournament.Centre-back Amanda Ilestedt has scored four goals at this World Cup, with Lena Videkull the only Sweden player to score more at a single edition (five in 1991). All four of Ilestedt’s goals have come from set-piece situations- and from just nine shots (six on target) in total.

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