Germany's women have drawn 0-0 with Sweden in their opening group game. More adventurous in the second half, the defending champions still struggled to carve out clear-cut chances against a defensive opponent.
Germany 0 - 0 Sweden
Rat Verlegh Stadion, Breda
Germany's tournament opener ended in a goalless draw on Monday, although coach Steffi Jones was satisfied with the result against what she described as an opponent defending "very deep."
"We can build on this," Jones told national broadcaster ARD after the game. "It was a very intensive match against a defensively-organized team. Sweden held us back well. We found some good solutions in the second half, but couldn't score the goal. Of course I suffer with the players when I see the final pass or that little bit of luck is missing."
Olympic finalists Sweden, known as defensive specialists in the women's game, started the match with considerable attacking intensity, winning a string of corners in the opening minutes. From one of them, defender Linda Sembrant had an excellent headed chance, failing to hit the target. In the second period, Sembrant again reached a corner without threatening German keeper Almuth Schult.
Sweden's keeper Lindahl was protected by her defense for the most part, and rose to the tests that did reach her
Germany's first half was largely unremarkable, save for Svenja Huth's early exit from the game clutching her thigh. The injury-prone attacker made way for Bayern Munich's striker Mandy Islacker shortly before the break. Islacker would later become an important piece of the puzzle for a more adventurous second half Germany.
Flurry of late chances
Sweden began the second period soaking up sustained pressure from Germany, albeit without ever really giving Jones' attackers a look at goal. Poor final passes and offside flags - particularly offside flags - had a habit of breaking up the more promising German forays forward.
When veteran Anja Mittag made way for another attacking sub, Hasret Kayicki, chances started to flow for Germany.
The first fell to Mandy Islacker in the 68th minute, connecting with a low cross from the left, but shooting just wide first-time. Moments later, subs Islacker and Kayicki combined to try to break through, but Kayicki's shot was ultimately blocked.
Sweden looked threatening on the break, however, and very nearly pounced twice in quick succession. Twice goalie Schult had to deny Swedish attackers - Lotte Schelin and Stina Blackstenius - from tight angles in one-on-one's.
With 10 minutes remaining, Sweden's goalie Hedvig Lindahl treated the Breda crowd to the save of the night.
Only captain Dszenifer Marozsan will ever really know whether her venomous strike from range was intended as a speculative shot or a powerful cross. It became a cross, though, when Islacker redirected the ball towards goal with an outstretched leg. With just moments to react to the close-range deflection, Lindahl rose to tip the ball over the bar with her right hand.
"It was a hard-fought and well-balanced game," Bayern striker Islacker said afterwards. "All in all we had the better chances, but we couldn't capitalize on them."
Russia take lead in Group B
The shared points put Russia top of the group table after the first round of fixtures. Against Italy, the Russians claimed a 2-0 lead within half an hour, and clung on for the remaining hour to win 2-1.
In Group B's next round of games, Germany play Italy in Tilburg and Sweden face Russia in Deventer.
You can re-read our play-by-play coverage of the Germany vs Sweden action below.