Sweden are heavy favourites ahead of their Euro 2022 quarter-final against Belgium on Friday night but are keen not to underestimate an opponent that has already pulled off a shock to get this far.
Belgium are competing at only their second ever major international tournament – their debut was a group stage exit at Euro 2017 – and were the lowest ranked team in Group D before it began.
But they made a decent start by drawing against Iceland, were then only narrowly beaten by a strong France team and finally beat Italy to advance to the quarter-finals.
Sweden came into Euro 2022 as the highest ranked European team in the world and among those fancied to go all the way after successive Olympic silver medals in recent years, as well as third place at the 2019 World Cup.
The Swedes also finished the group stage in style by winning 5-0 against Portugal. Yet Peter Gerhardsson’s side are taking nothing for granted.
“I think they seem like a very well-coached team,” Magdalena Eriksson said of Belgium, via UEFA.
“I think they played like a team and especially through every third of the pitch, you could see that they had a clear playing idea. I was very impressed that even if they played Italy, who perhaps were higher ranked, you could see that they had their idea and they went with it.
“They really look like a strong collective."
Fridolina Rolfo said the onus is on Sweden to ‘live up to’ their tag as favourites and insists she won’t underestimate Belgium because every team in the quarter-finals has proven their level.
“[Being favourites] is something we have to learn how to handle," she said. "We have come here with the approach that we want to go far and we also need to show it. Now we have to live up to that. We want to fight for the medals so it's necessary that we win this match and prove what we can do.
“Speaking for myself, I think it's very hard to underestimate [Belgium] when you are in a quarter-final. There are no bad teams left and Belgium have really surprised. They didn't have an easy group and still managed to end second so for me underestimating doesn't exist.”