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  • Ilyana Glanville

Sweden Vs Switzerland: Sheffield hosts the battle for Group C supremacy

Arriving at the John Street turnstile on a hot Wednesday evening is something I’ve done many times before, but this time it was to see one of the many wonderful Women’s Euros games being held at this historic venue this summer. Having spent the hours running up to the game in the heart of the city, the atmosphere around Sheffield was electric. Fans of both teams dined and drank at the city's pubs and restaurants, with each country’s fans grouping into colourful hoards for the walk down to the aptly nicknamed ‘Beautiful Downtown Bramall Lane’ (quote courtesy of Gary Sinclair, Bramall Lanes resident announcer).

It was, however, noticeable that there was a drop in attendance from the game held previously, this midweek match garnered the attention of nearly 13,000 fans which contrasted massively to the nearly 22,000 who had descended on the stadium the previous Saturday, as many know a 5pm kick-off on a Wednesday no matter the weather would always cause a drop.

This drop in attendance however was only noticeable in the amount of fans I saw on the way to the ground, once the buildup to the game began the atmosphere of the stadium felt as though the attendance included nearly the full populations of each nation. I attended this match with my partner and a friend, and we were all amazed by the excitement in the stadium. It was wonderful to see Bramall Lane draped in vibrant yellows and reds with fans who were vying for their voices to be heard above the others.

We were seated midway up the Kop and the view was fantastic. There were no obstacles to block our view of the goal, so it was perfect to see the Swiss line up in front of us. Our seats however seemed to be in the area of the stadium where there was little visible alliance to either playing country. It seemed most of us were spectators simply curious as to how these matches would play out.

Before I knew it the players were assembling on the pitch to prepare for kick off. We were treated to renditions of each national anthem and both teams kneeled in support of the ongoing Black Lives Matter campaign which was refreshing to see due to the controversy surrounding such alliance in our regular football leagues.

Once kick off began, the stadium exploded into an electric atmosphere which almost took me by surprise. Going into this game Sweden were unbeaten in qualifying. In the first leg of the group stages they drew to The Netherlands, Switzerland however had a bumpier road behind them in the qualifiers where they had either won or lost their games. In their opening match of the group stage they too drew, but to Portugal. So, with both teams coming from a draw the play was all about who would get the first goal and clinch those crucial 3 points.

We witnessed a penalty be given to the Swiss side in the 11th minute, only for this to be overruled by VAR, which created a tense atmosphere around the stadium, the Swiss fans had become angry, and the Swedish fans had become joyous at this overruling.

After such an intense moment in the early minutes of the game; the play became more focused. There were little big moves or risks taken in the rest of the first half, and as we drew closer to half time it was evident that Switzerland had really been pushing the defence of the Swedish.

As the second half began, the sense of urgency kicked in. The adrenaline and atmosphere amongst the other stands was electric once more, and just 8 minutes into the second half (52nd minute) we finally saw some action. Barcelona’s Fridolina Rolfo for Sweden had slotted the ball perfectly into the net right in front of us. The Swedish fans erupted into chants and cheers as the Swiss fans began to look dejected. However, this upset was short lived indeed, just 2 short minutes later, in the 54th minute, Ramona Bachmann for Switzerland fires a shot into the net just in front of the family stand. The celebrations of both teams seemingly overlap, as the realisation hits that this is very much a 2-horse race. For the next 20 minutes play is fierce, both teams are fighting to reach the others goal and slot another goal home. Just as the players looked like they were losing steam, Hanna Bennison, who in daily life plays for Everton, scores a cracking goal from the edge of the box for Sweden. It’s now 2-1 to the Swedish side, play continued with both teams fighting to secure another goal, but it wasn’t meant to be. The minutes rolled on and play ended after 3 minutes of additional time as 2-1 to Sweden.

Overall, I can’t wait to see Sheffield host more tournaments like this in the future. The city comes alive with these events, it helps us as residents showcase our amazing city, along with introducing us to the customs of other countries. Our pre-match ideologies seem to, in many ways, be different to that of our European counterparts who are big on the family atmosphere of football, with lots of singing and dancing and general happiness and optimism which we often lack. Events and days such as the Euros showcase why football in our little city is simply unbeatable and, in my opinion, there is nothing more worthwhile than that.


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