Monday, August 11, 2008

Liveblogging the ladies 2: Canada vs Sweden

Women's Olympic Soccer - Group Stage

Beijing, China
12 August 2008
7:45 am ET / 6:45 am CT / 4:45 am PT

Live on CBC
Internet: CBC Olympics Live Video

I initially wasn't all that interested in doing a live blog of Canada's final group stage match vs Sweden. There was a chance that things would be decided by then, but of course the real reason was the time.

Those who had believed in my infallibility will be shaken to the core to learn that I misread a schedule, and a match that I thought started at 4:45 am local time actually begins at a not too unreasonable 6:45. And if I can get up at that time on a Saturday for the China match, why can't I do it again?

I suppose I could get up for this

So stay tuned. I'll make no guarantee, but that there will be some drama on the pitch. Though the real drama may be whether I manage to roll out of bed for this one.

I should add that while I expect Canada - Sweden to be an excellent match, the stakes are higher for Sweden. The Scandinavians have 3 points from two matches and a loss might sink their chances; Canada could lose and would very likely still advance as one of the two best 3rd place finishers.

Joining action in progress . . .

I haven't yet managed to get out of bed, but thanks to wireless internet and streaming video, I can still blog the action.

The good news is that Canada has already advanced to the quarters, no matter the outcome of this match. The bad news is that they currently trail 1-0.

22nd: Canada just had a nice move that sent a player in on the keeper, but the Sweden goalie got out to claim the ball. This live stream has no commentary, and I don't quite know all the girls by number yet, so I can't give you anything else. I'll be moving to the TV for the second half.

A Sweden player just got stretchered off.

28th: Kara Lang sent in a good cross that #14 couldn't quite get to.

Canada is thumping the ball up the field a little too much for my liking right now. I will concede, though, that two straight long balls have found Lang alone on the right flank, from where she has flighted in two decent crosses.

33rd: Candace Chapman got down in her own area to make a solid sliding tackle. She's good.

It's reassuring to know that Canada isn't the only team hitting useless balls forward from their own half - the Swedes just did it.

38th: Canada just had a good free kick chance that was swung in, but several players, among them Emily Zurrer, failed to get a head to it.

The match is a bit sloppy, and I think it might be raining, though I won't know for sure until I go to the TV to watch in glorious standard def. I think the Swedish keeper just made a save while I was typing, and now she is hurt. Yup, she got out to punch away a dangerous ball.

Canada has carried the play since I started watching, but still trail 1-0.

43rd: Kara Lang had a shot saved after Sinclair won a header in the area. Sinclair fell, though, and is still down... Now back up.

HALF TIME: And it's time for me to take a little break, put on some pants, and move downstairs.

On Sweden:

I haven't done any research beyond take a glance at the world rankings to see that Sweden is the 3rd ranked team. I mean to comment more generally on the country and its women, not necessarily about sport.

Many red-blooded males hold the Swedish girl as some sort of ideal of breeding. Most of these go in for the buxom bombshell blondes, of which there are many. Not me.

Allow me to explain. I spent a year abroad in another very blonde country, the Netherlands, and even managed a one-day foray into Sweden (Goteborg, a disappointment) during a week-long trip to Norway. But my most enduring memory of Sweden was a girl at a hostel in Prague.

I don't even remember her name. I just remember sipping cheap pints, enjoying conversation and the demure (is that the right word?) Swedish girl across the table. My friend and I could make no move; we were equally smitten and wouldn't want to violate some sort of code. But he's married now.

She is from Malmö. Beautiful, but in a "take her home and she'll charm the socks off of your mom" sort of way. If I ever make it to that city, I might have to start knocking on doors.

I'm beginning to wonder if it comes off as sexist that in my two live blog of ladies' soccer, I've made sure to point out which Canadians are hottest, and I've penned an out to the Swede with whom I'd like to breed. Probably.

A few details I picked up from the CSA fixture link: #14 is Melissa Tancredi, making her first appearance of these Olympics. And Canada has made a halftime substitution; Amy Walsh is on for Sophie Schmidt.

49th: A corner to Canada, and a secondary chance, but not much comes of it. The ref makes a mistake, though, and awards a second corner. Zurrer got to it, but headed over.

51st: Sweden scores another goal, an easy one really, with bad keeping and defending everywhere. 2-0 Sweden.

Jason de Vos has it right that Sweden's technical style is prevailing over Canada's physical approach.

61st: de Vos goes off on an excellent rant against direct football (with which I wholeheartedly agree), but the latter style nearly resulted in a goal.

Then some pressure, and a great cross from Walsh is headed in by a diving Tancredi. Great goal!

2-1 Sweden.

67th: Christine Sinclair has come off. Hints of an injury. Jodi-Ann Robinson who, frankly, was brutal against China, is in to replace her.

75th: Several chances at both ends but nothing too dangerous. Since the only result that would eliminate any team in this match is a Sweden loss, the steam has gone out of the game a little.

81st: Robyn Gayle is on for Emily Zurrer.

FULL TIME: Sweden wins 2-1.

I don't have much to say about this match, so I won't. Canada didn't play poorly, and Sweden is a top team. Canada advances to the quarterfinals, which was the whole point, so I can't be too upset with the result.

Thanks for tuning in, and a special shout out to our friend in Serbia and/or Montenegro who seemed to keeping close tabs on this match.

: Canada gets U.S.A in the quarter finals, a good matchup for a number of reasons:
  • they avoid Germany, the top team on form right now
  • they are familiar with the U.S. team and have beaten them in the past
  • the U.S. is somewhat in disarray and missing their best player (Wambach)
  • if they beat the U.S., they avoid the winner of Germany/Brazil until the finals; they would play the winner of China/Japan
CBC: Canada to face U.S. in women's soccer quarter-finals

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