Rio Wrap-Up: Sweden and Germany in Final; Brazil and Canada Play for Bronze; Match Previews

The semifinals are done and two teams — Germany and Sweden — are into the Rio 2016 women’s Olympic final while Brazil and Canada will play for the bronze medal. Here’s a recap of the day with match reports, stats, and everything else that went down in Rio.

Match Previews

There will be a new Olympic women’s soccer champion for the first time since Athens 2004 after Sweden knocked out the United States in the quarterfinals.

Gold-Medal Match

Sweden vs. German in Rio de Janeiro
The bus. Will it park in Rio? Probably but how long will it stay parked is the question. Sweden is coming off back-to-back matches that went into penalty kick shootouts while Germany has yet to go into extra time so look for the Swedes to try to settle this one in regular time if they can. However, head coach Pia Sundhage has this team organized and disciplined so don’t expect them to be careless going forward.

Germany looked less than convincing in the group stage but that unsteadiness worked its way into sure footing in the knockout stages. Of concern for Germany is the status of Dzsenifer Marozsán, who was subbed at halftime in Germany’s semifinal win over Canada with what’s been reported as a muscle strain. Germany will need to stay patient (stop me if you’ve heard this before) and figure out how to unlock the organized Swedish defense.

Players to Watch
For Germany, Melanie Behringer has been an absolute dream this tournament. For Sweden, keeper Hedvig Lindahl has come up big when it mattered and more important, when it didn’t in this tournament. On tournament form, if this goes to penalty kicks, Sweden has the goalkeeping edge in Lindahl.

Storylines
Will Silvia Neid go out on top in her final match as head coach of Germany? Can Pia Sundhage win her third consecutive gold medal?

Bronze-Medal Match

Brazil vs. Canada in São Paulo
For Canada it’s an opportunity to defend the bronze it took home from London 2012. For Brazil, it’s a chance to show and remind the home crowd just how good their women’s side is. Brazil has two silver medals (Athens 2004, Beijing 2008), and while many expected them to take the gold after their quarterfinal win, playing for a medal in front of a crowd that most likely hasn’t seen the team before will hopefully kick-start support for the program.

Power versus flair. Canada’s strength against Brazil’s flair. Greats against one another: Sinclair versus Marta.

Players to Watch
Marta. Playing on home soil with a chance at a medal is a special moment and Marta is a special player. Janine Beckie for Canada has been superb throughout this tournament, rising to the challenge each match.

Storylines
Brazil is surely disappointed not to be in the gold-medal match as many predicted heading into the knockout rounds, but the country has embraced the team, and a medal and performance on Friday would go a long way to breaking down barriers these athletes face. Canada started strong out of the gates and looked confident before running into a German team that got back on the right track at the right time and a second bronze medal here will add a lot of momentum and validation for Canada’s youth movement.

Semifinals: Match Reports

Sweden Headed into Rio 2016 Final after Outlasting Brazil in Penalties
The bus keeps on rolling…

Germany into Rio 2016 after 2-0 win Over Canada
The Germans are peaking at the right time. Melanie Behringer has been terrific.

Semifinals in Numbers

Total Goals: 2 in regular time
Penalty Kick Shootouts: 1 – Brazil vs. Sweden
Yellow Cards: 8
Red Cards: 0

Extra Time

This was savage from the last true No. 10 the U.S. Women’s National Team has had, Aly Wagner:

And this is also spot on:

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