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Sweden banking on Halmstad's '12th player'

After overcoming Italy 3–1 in their final Group A game at Halmstad's Örjans vall, Sweden return for Sunday's quarter-final against Iceland to a city with a severe bout of "football fever".

Olivia Schough is given a warm Halmstad send-off after the Italy game
Olivia Schough is given a warm Halmstad send-off after the Italy game ©Sportsfile

When Sweden sealed top spot in Group A by sweeping aside Italy 3-1 at Örjans vall they booked a second date with a city gripped by "football fever".

Underneath a veil of tranquility that pervades Halmstad is a palpable buzz surrounding UEFA Women's EURO 2013, due to envelop Örjans vall for a second time when Sweden take on Iceland for a place in the semi-finals. Tickets for this fixture are hot property and sold out within hours of the hosts confirming their comeback on Tuesday. Three days later, an additional 100 tickets went on sale, only to be snapped up within 30 minutes.

"We're so pleased to be back in Halmstad, where the crowd gave us a real boost last time out, acting like a 12th player, just as they did in Gothenburg, where the atmosphere was also fantastic," said coach Pia Sundhage during Saturday's pre-quarter-final press conference. "Halmstad must be congratulated for hosting this quarter-final and all those who contribute to making the event so special."

Local newspaper Hallandsposten epitomises the mood of the south-western city, with the headline, "Football fever continues in Halmstad" adorning one of its tournament-dedicated pages. Readers are also encouraged to venture out into the fan zones, where giant screens will be projecting the last-eight encounter. "We want to create a live atmosphere for those who don't have the opportunity to watch the match at Örjans vall," said the project leader for Halmstad, Ann Johansson.

Though it may lack the grandeur of Gothenburg's Gamla Ullevi, the attraction of Örjans vall is derived from its intimacy that can result in an equally effective and vibrant atmosphere . "If there's 7,000 or 70,000 watching – either way we'll feel that 12th player giving us the support we need," explained the 53-year-old Sundhage.