#FIFA Women's World Cup

Peter Gerhardsson on the development of women’s football and embracing new thinking

Peter Gerhardsson, 21 May 2024


Last year, Peter Gerhardsson guided Sweden to a second consecutive third-place finish at the Women’s World Cup. In this interview he gave his assessment of the tournament, and explained why coaches should always be open to new ideas.

A successful tournament
Gerhardsson sees the 2023 Women’s World Cup as a successful tournament, both for Sweden and for the women’s game as a whole. He was particularly struck by the improvements he saw in the physical fitness of players; every team in Australia and New Zealand was prepared to play at high intensity for the full 90 minutes.  The teams that qualified for the finals were also tactically more astute than in the past, and the quality of football was very high, which suggests 2023 was indeed the right time to expand the tournament from 24 teams to 32.

Increased tactical flexibility
This World Cup also was the first to allow five substitutes during matches. This relatively minor change had a significant impact, as it allowed players to maintain greater intensity during matches and gave coaches more tactical flexibility. At the same time, teams were better organised than they had been at previous tournaments, and tended to be very difficult to break down. To Gerhardsson, this was not evidence of a more defensive mindset. Rather, he saw it as evidence that teams were crafting their tactics to maximise their strengths.

Finding the perfect combination from corner kicks
One of Sweden’s biggest strengths at the tournament was their prowess from corner kicks. The Scandinavian side do work hard behind the scenes to get their tactics right, but Gerhardsson is keen to emphasise the importance of a good delivery; tactics are irrelevant if you can’t get the ball into the right areas. Fortunately for Sweden, they had a combination of a well-thought-out tactical gameplan, great technical ability and two or three players who were excellent in the air, all of which served to make their corners dangerous attacking weapons.   

Thinking on your feet
Sweden enjoyed great success with near-post crosses from corners, but you need more than one to beat your opponents. Even if you analyse the opposition very carefully, there are no guarantees they will play the way you expect them to. When it really matters, it is down to the players to think on their feet and find solutions to problems as they arise during games, with or without help from the dugout. If they can’t do that, they will struggle to create chances – no matter what they practised in training.

Evolving as a coach
Since no coach ever gets full sight of what any other team is doing from a tactical point of view, it is vital that they are constantly open to new ideas and prepared to mine every available source of information for anything that might give them an edge. These crucial details can come from a wide variety of sources, including the FIFA Coaches Forum. An unpredictable side will always present a challenge for an opposition manager, so it’s very important to stay curious and be prepared to shake things up from time to time.

Rate your experience

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

The site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.