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Oct 5, 2003

Benson's Breakdown: Sweden vs. Canada

This second semifinal was a great display of two different styles of soccer.

The Canadians are a very physical team and play a lot of long balls, where Sweden is more possession oriented and play through their midfield much more. I think Sweden could have had many more goals if it kept the ball on frame. I don't want to take anything away from Taryn Swiatek because the young goalkeeper stepped up big but the Swedes for most of the game just missed the net. They created a lot of chances in both halves and were finally able to convert in the latter part of the game. I don't think the Canadians have any reason to hang their heads because they executed their game plan but in the end got a little tired and couldn't hang on.

Defense Sweden: I thought the back line of Sweden handled the three young Canadians very well although Kristin Benggston had her hands full with Kara Lang. The old veteran of the Swedish team had some difficulties running with the young Canadian.

Midfield Sweden: I thought the midfield caused a lot of problems for Canada, especially in the second half. Mostroem kept shooting out of the midfield through gaps in Canada's back line and it eventually is how Sweden scored its first goal. This midfield had a lot of chances and to have a chance at winning in the final they are going to need to put the chances on frame.

Forwards Sweden: Victoria Svensson and Hanna Ljungberg have proven to be one to the toughest forward duos in this World Cup. I thought these two played alright tonight but I have seen them play better. Svensson needs to have much more focus when the net is wide open if the Swedes want to give Germany a match on Sunday.

Defense Canada: Sharolta Nonen and Charmaine Hooper played very solid tonight although had a couple of breakdowns which ended in goals. The Canadians have had a lot of injuries to their back line which I think hurt them tremendously in the last part of the game. But I think this Canadian defense has come a long way and I expect to see good things from them Saturday against the U.S.

Midfield Canada: This is a fairly young midfield that stepped up and played extremely well in this World Cup although I thought they were a little bit overmatched today. The Swedes were a little faster and they could handle the dynamic runs penetrating the back line. But you saw a lot of fight and heart in them and the experience will come.

Forwards Canada: These three young Canadians are going to be a force to handle for years to come. Christine Latham, Christine Sinclair and Kara Lang are strong, hard and very determined players not afraid of anything. They went after the veteran Swedish defense and put in a good effort. I think they did a good job of getting in behind the defense and creating opportunities for each other out of nothing. They also did a great job pressuring defensively making it uncomfortable for the Swedish defense. These three are going to be causing problems in international competitions for a long time.

Overall, I think the best team won tonight although the Canadians fought hard and showed why they were here. The Swedes created all over the field and I really liked the style of soccer they played. They are technical but tough and that is a good combination. They should match up well against the Germans although I give the Germans the edge. They are the team to beat in my book.

Jenny Benson, U.S. Women's National Team pool player and former Philadelphia Charge defender, is covering the Women's World Cup for ESPN Soccernet.com.