Germany and Sweden will battle for Olympic gold at the legendary Maracanã Stadium.
Germany is the second ranked team in the world, but for much of the tournament the team did not look like one of the world’s best. However, since a slow start in group play, Germany has earned two clean sheets in the knockout stage to advance to the gold medal match.
The team has been led by Melanie Behringer who leads the tournament with five goals. The 2008 bronze medalist takes all of Germany’s set pieces and has played at a very high level at the 2016 Olympics.
Sweden has beaten the odds to get to this point. After finishing third in Group C, the Swedes faced off against the mighty Americans in the quarterfinals. While the team looked outmatched through much of the match, Sweden was able to play to a 1-1 draw with the U.S. through 120 minutes. Then, in the penalty shootout Sweden came out on top.
The team used a similar script against Brazil in the semifinals. Seemingly outmatched again against a Brazil team that it lost to 5-1 in group play, Sweden bunkered down in a defensive shell and kept Brazil scoreless through regulation and extra time. Facing another penalty shootout, Swedish goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl came up with two huge saves to help her team to the victory.
On paper, Germany should be favored over Sweden. Germany is the higher ranked team and has been the more consistent performer at the 2016 Olympics.
However, Sweden has proved that it can beat more talented opponents with its disciplined, defensive style.
This game is likely to be a tight, low-scoring matchup as each team looks to win its first Olympic women’s soccer gold medal. Germany has been on the Olympic podium three times, winning bronze in 2000, 2004 and 2008. Sweden has never won an Olympic women’s soccer medal.
The teams will face off in the Gold Medal Match on Friday, Aug. 19th at 4:30 p.m. ET. The match will be streamed live on NBCOlympics.com.