Germany and Sweden are about to battle for the Women's World Cup championship near Los Angeles.
Sweden has been one of the most successful women's soccer teams in the world. Female players first registered with the Swedish Football Association in 1970, the national championship started in 1972, and they played their first international in 1973. Sweden then went on to win the inaugural UEFA Women's European Championship in 1984. In the past three Women's World Cups, the Swedes have reached the quarterfinals each time. Sweden's previous best World Cup was a third place finish in 1991.
This year, Sweden again proved it can play with the top teams at the Algarve Cup in Portugal. Sweden played to a draw with Norway, Canada and the United States. The Swedes later crushed Finland 5-0 to finish fifth.
With those performances, former U.S. head coach Tony DiCicco says Sweden believes it can win the World Cup. "Teams develop as the tournament goes along," he said. "Sweden has proven they are capable of beating anybody. And they are not going to say 'we have accomplished everything we want' [by just reaching the final]. They are going to try to win it."
Sweden will have to overcome a German team that is undefeated both in qualifying for the Women's World Cup and in the actual tournament. Germany was the 1995 World Cup runner-up, and according to Tony DiCicco, the Germans have yet to reach their full potential. "They are a team in my mind that has underachieved," he said. "From a technical or tactical standpoint, they are great going from defense to offense."
Germany reached the final by stunning the host United States in the semifinals, 3-0. Sweden came from behind to beat Canada, 2-1, and earn its place in the championship game being played in Carson (California), south of Los Angeles.