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On Friday night in the Maracana Stadium, Rio de Janeiro, Olympic women’s football will crown only its third gold medal-winning team, which in seven tournaments is quite incredible.
Two traditional powers have claimed spots in Rio 2016’s women’s soccer final, though the way Germany and Sweden reached Friday’s goal medal match creates a David versus Goliath feel.
Of the two, it is certainly Germany for which a place in the final was more of an expectation. After all, Germany is a two-time World Cup winner and six-time defending European champion. Only Olympic gold has so far eluded the team, having had to settle for bronze on three occasions. Now there is the chance to make it glorious golden double, with the men’s side taking on Brazil in the final the very next day.
There will be few neutrals, certainly not among Brazilians, cheering on Sweden in the final. But, while not popular, there is certainly an argument that its tactics have maximized the chances of a fairly limited side. And the longer the final remains goalless the greater Sweden’s chance becomes of walking away with the gold medal. Germany will be desperate to get an early goal, which would force Sweden into a dramatic and uncomfortable change in its approach. It has to be expected that Neid will have studied Sweden’s past two games intently and formulated a plan to break down the resistance of Sundhage’s side. And given that Sweden has for two straight games survived in large part making itself a hostage to fortune, those fine margins may well fall the other way in the final.
Predicted Score: Germany 1-0 Sweden
Kickoff Time: Friday, 4.30 p.m. EDT
TV Channel: NBCSN
Live Stream: NBC Olympics.com