"I’d tried to imagine what it might be like, but that doesn't come close to actually stepping out there," Jessica Samuelsson told UEFA.com after Sweden got a first taste of the UEFA Women's EURO 2013 atmosphere.
A 1-1 draw against Denmark at the sold-out Gamla Ullevi may not have been the result Pia Sundhage's side craved from their first match as final tournament hosts, but as right-back Samuelsson said, they had some excuse for freezing a little under the spotlight on opening night. "I shivered when I walked on to the pitch," said the least experienced player in the starting lineup after winning her seventh cap. "I've never played in front of so many people before."
Since the stadium opened in April 2009, Gamla Ullevi has been home to the Swedish women's team, but even those who were used to playing at the Gothenburg venue were taken aback by the welcome they received on Wednesday night. "The atmosphere was probably even better than I had expected," said the 21-year-old Samuelsson after a crowd of 16,000 roared her side on throughout the match.
Midfielder Marie Hammarström has played in the Olympics and famously scored Sweden’s winning goal in the bronze medal match at the 2011 FIFA World Cup in Germany. She felt that the Women's EURO atmosphere was every bit as big. "This was at least as good as in Germany," she said, adding: "There was one time at a corner when I shouted to Caroline Seger from ten metres away and she couldn't even hear me."
Sweden can expect more of the same when they take on Finland on Saturday and Italy on Tuesday – both games are sold out and unlikely to be quiet affairs.
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