England and Sweden vie for World Cup bronze in battle of runners-up
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England and Sweden will be hoping to end their World Cup campaign on a high as they battle for third place on Saturday after both teams fell just short of the final – yet again.
Between them, the two teams have played in six semi-finals since the inaugural Women’s World Cup in 1991 – winning only one, in 2003, when Sweden went on to lose the final against Germany.
The Scandinavians also won two bronze medals in 1991 and 2011, while England came third four years ago, after a heartbreaking last-minute defeat to Japan in the semi-finals.
The Lionesses will have to put emotion to one side as they look to pick themselves up from another dramatic 2-1 loss on Tuesday, this time against reigning champions the United States.
"It's a great barometer tomorrow for us in terms of the challenge ahead, can we beat teams like Sweden?" said England coach Phil Neville ahead of Saturday’s game at the Stade de Nice, on the French Riviera.
"They're well organised, they've got a good system, they've got fantastic front players. They're consistently challenging like us to try and get over that line to win tournaments,” Neville explained.
"They will probably be hurting like we are in terms of their semi-final,” he added. “We came up against the No. 1 team in the world and Sweden came up against a team probably on paper they thought ‘we should have won’."
Sweden, who stunned mighty Germany in the quarter-finals, missed out on the final after losing 1-0 in extra time to the Netherlands in the other semifinal Wednesday.
"We're going to regroup, recover and focus on Saturday and make sure we leave this place with a medal," Sweden defender Magdalena Eriksson said on the eve of the third-place match against England.
"Going for it on Saturday is going to be massive and important for us, and I feel we have a good chance of beating England. That's the goal from now on," she added.
Karney bows out
Saturday’s game will see one of England's longest-serving players make her last international appearance as Karen Carney bows out after a remarkable career for club and country.
Carney had tears in her eyes as she announced her retirement during an emotional press conference on Friday.
"My mind still wants to do everything and it still can but I don't think my body can anymore," said the 31-year-old.
"I think you've seen the level and the growth of the game, how fantastic it's become and that's a credit to everyone,” she added.
Carney has three substitute appearances at her fourth World Cup and the Chelsea midfielder could win her 144th cap for England against Sweden in Nice.
She is the second-most capped player for England, behind only Fara Williams who has played 170 times for the Lionesses.
Carney made her first-team debut for Birmingham City at the age of 14 and also played for Arsenal and the Chicago Red Stars.
"The thing I'll miss most is just kicking a ball," said Carney, her voice cracking with emotion.
Neville sat next to Carney at the press conference and paid tribute to a player who didn't even feature in his first few squads.
"I feel incredibly honored that in a short space of time I got to know one of our greatest players but more importantly what an amazing person and that makes me a lucky, lucky manager," Neville said.
The match for third place kicks off at 5pm local time.
(FRANCE 24 with AP)
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