Sundhage, USWNT prepare for battle of wills, knowledge in Women’s World Cup

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If you believe Sweden coach Pia Sundhage has upped the ante for her Women’s World Cup reunion with the United States women’s national team, then you’re sure to believe Friday night’s match is going to be dynamite.

And even if you believe she hasn’t, or even that it’s not possible to up the ante on the all-too-important middle match of the group stage, Friday’s potential for fireworks is out of this world.

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In a piece for NBC’s SportsWorld, Jeff Kassouf puts the match into context, saying it’s Phil Jackson bringing the Lakers back to coach the Bulls, or Rick Pitino bringing Louisville to Kentucky.

But perhaps it’s even more, for most of these USWNT players played for Sundhage just a couple years ago.

From SportsWorld:

So how do you prepare for a team whose players you know everything about?

And how do you prepare for a team whose coach knows everything about your players?

Those are the respective questions facing Sundhage and current U.S. coach Jill Ellis ahead of Friday’s match.

“For me, the approach is that we have to play to our strengths,” Ellis said. “We’ve got to focus on what we can do and what we’re good at. So it’s not really taking into consideration who is on the opposing bench. It really is about getting our players prepared in a good mindset, believing in what they’re doing, believing in the game plan, putting all the emphasis into that.”

Neither the U.S. nor Sweden could keep a clean sheet in their World Cup opener, while both teams scored three goals. Friday should be an entertaining, intense bout. Kassouf’s piece points out why.