Brazilian goalkeeper Barbara defends Sweden’s defensive tactics

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Sweden has held its ground. Pia Sundhage has shut down both the United States and Brazil with an unlockable defensive shape, and while it left the US goalkeeper frustrated to the point of insult, it struck the Brazilian goalkeeper in the opposite manner.

Whereas Hope Solo was furious, calling the Swedish squad “a bunch of cowards,” Barbara was complimentary.

“Each team works the way they think they must,” the 28-year-old said. “I wouldn’t call it a cowards approach, but they only played defense. I think they used their strategy. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the opportunity to break through. Their strategy worked today, they came out with the win and that’s football.”

Brazil held 67% of the possession and out-shot the Swedes 32-6, but could only manage to put nine of those 32 efforts on target, and were wasteful in front of net. The frustration showed through the second half, as the Brazilians began to rip off shots from long range, shots that had little chance of ever troubling Swedish goalkeeper Hedvig Lindhal.

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“Sweden stayed back and played defense with all 11 players in the back,” Barbara said. “We tried to break through with three, four attackers. We shot on goal a few times, which they didn’t do, but unfortunately the ball didn’t go in for us today.”

The match eventually progressed to penalties, where Sweden advanced for the second straight match after Lindhal made a pair of saves, including one in the fifth and final round against Andressinha, which Lisa Dahlkvist followed up with the winning kick.