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Sundhage pinpoints pace to unlock Iceland

Sweden will adopt a "high tempo" approach to break down Iceland's compact rearguard, according to coach Pia Sundhage, while Sigurdur Eyjólfsson aims to prove the doubters wrong.

Coach Pia Sundhage oversees Sweden's final training session in Halmstad
Coach Pia Sundhage oversees Sweden's final training session in Halmstad ©Sportsfile

"It's impossible to have too much confidence," said Sweden boss Pia Sundhage, whose charges will counteract Iceland's physical approach by playing "high tempo" football when the two nations compete for a UEFA Women's EURO 2013 semi-final spot in Halmstad on Sunday.

The hosts dismantled Iceland 6-1 at the Algarve Cup in March and posted a 2-0 friendly success against the same opposition four weeks later, but Sundhage is not reading too much into those results. 

Iceland counterpart Sigurdur Eyjólfsson, meanwhile, vowed not to compromise on his team's combative style, with the intention of making the country proud in the "biggest match of our football history". 

Pia Sundhage, Sweden coach 
I am always optimistic, the biggest challenge is to be focused and make sure we do our very best in the quarter-final. It's impossible to have too much confidence, but this team will never be arrogant. Everything we've done so far we've done well and now it's about taking the next step.

It's good for the team to have a lot of confidence. We've already played them [Iceland] twice this year and won both of the games, but this is a new game. The fact that this is a quarter-final makes everyone very excited to play in front of a big crowd. 

Iceland are a good team because they've managed to make it to the quarter-finals. I have been impressed with the way they play together. It's a team that's very compact, so it's difficult to score against them. They work together, so in order to win the game tomorrow it's important we play at a high tempo and utilise our speed, but also remain patient.

We're living our dream: playing a EURO quarter-final at home in front of our 12th player. It doesn't matter who is on the other side of the pitch. We are ready and our minds are focused on how we want to play. There is no risk of us underestimating Iceland.

Group stage results 
Sweden 1-1 Denmark (Knudsen 26, Fischer 35)
Finland 0-5 Sweden (Fischer 15 36, Asllani 38, Schelin 60 87)
Sweden 3-1 Italy (Manieri 47 o.g., Schelin 49, Öqvist 57, Gabbiadini 78)

• The hosts opened with a 1-1 draw against Denmark in Gothenburg, where they stayed to secure a 5-0 defeat of Finland that equalled the record margin of victory in a finals game. Sundhage's charges then defeated Italy 3-1 in their final Group A encounter to seal top spot. 

• On a booking: Nilla Fischer

Team news
"Everyone is healthy and ready for the game tomorrow," said Sundhage, who is no longer sweating on the fitness of Kosovare Asllani after the forward recovered from an ankle knock. 

Sigurdur Eyjólfsson, Iceland coach
We are very excited, it's probably the biggest match in our football history. An Iceland team has never gone this far so we're looking forward to it. We've prepared in the best way possible and we know them [Sweden] quite well. We have already played them twice this year, unsuccessfully, but hopefully we can put in a good performance and make Iceland proud. 

We have some quality players. When you play Iceland you should prepare for a physical battle. I think we always turn up for every match and play physically: that's our style of play. We have also shown some good quality in the tournament and hopefully we can show that tomorrow.

Normally when we play at this level we are the underdogs. so we are used to it. I don't think many people had any belief in us before the tournament and we're in that position again. We aim to prove them wrong.

It's nice weather and we'll have to make sure that when we get time during the match we take on board plenty of fluid. Hopefully it won't be too hot because it will benefit them more than us.

Group stage results
Norway 1-1 Iceland (Hegland 26, M. Vidarsdóttir 87pen)
Iceland 0-3 Germany (Lotzen 24, Okoyino Da Mbabi 55 84)
Netherlands 0-1 Iceland (Brynjarsdóttir 30)

•  Iceland picked up their first point at this level with their 1-1 draw against Norway to open Group B but were then outclassed by Germany 3-0.  Eyjólfsson's team subsequently edged out the Netherlands 1-0 to take their place in the last eight of a UEFA Women's EURO for the first time since a group stage was introduced in 1997. They finished as one of the two best third-placed teams along with Denmark.

• On a booking: Katrín Jónsdóttir 

Team news
Midfielder Hólmfrídur Magnúsdóttir misses out through suspension. Otherwise Eyjólfsson has his full squad at his disposal. 

Match facts
• The nations first met during qualifying for the 1984 European Competition for Women's Football, with Sweden cantering to a 6-0 victory on 9 September 1982 and casting a shadow over Iceland's first home international.

Did you know?
• Coaches Sundhage and Eyjólfsson have locked horns on three previous occasions, between 2009 and 2011, with the former – during her four-year spell at the United States' helm – coming out on top each time, including a 4-2 defeat of Iceland in Faro at the Algarve Cup on 9 March 2011.

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