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I’ve been fascinated by Dutch football over 40 years – Sweden boss Gerhardsson

Sweden lost to Holland in the quarter-finals of Euro 2017.

Nilla Fischer is aiming for success with Sweden (Martin Rickett/PA)
Nilla Fischer is aiming for success with Sweden (Martin Rickett/PA)

Sweden manager Peter Gerhardsson says he has been “fascinated” by Dutch football since being dazzled by Johan Cruyff during the 1974 World Cup.

Gerhardsson’s side face Holland on Wednesday with a place in the Women’s World Cup final at stake.

The 59-year-old took over the national team after Euro 2017, a tournament he watched the Dutch win on home soil playing almost “ideal” football.

“I could talk at length about Holland. In 1974, when I was 15 and I watched Holland v West Germany, that was one of the greatest footballing experiences of my life,” said Gerhardsson at a pre-match press conference.

“And from that World Cup final I have always been incredibly fascinated by Dutch football – Johan Cruyff and everyone.

“I did my education in Rotterdam, so to me it will be incredibly interesting to play against the Netherlands.

“I was there (in Holland) throughout the European Cup (Euro 2017) and seeing that final between the Netherlands and Denmark, that was amazing because that football that was played in that final was very close to our ideal.

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Peter Gerhardsson has fond memories of Johan Cruyff (centre) playing in the 1974 World Cup final (PA Images)

“It’s going to be an incredibly cool semi-final and it’s going to be fun to see if we can beat one of my favourite countries when it comes to football.”

Sweden, who upset Germany in the last round, were defeated 2-0 by Holland in the quarter-finals of Euro 2017.

Defender Nilla Fischer played in that match and was also part of the squads which finished third at the 2011 World Cup, reached the semi-finals of Euro 2013, and came runners-up at the 2016 Olympics.

The 34-year-old insists she is not concerned about previous disappointments at international level as she bids to help her country win a major trophy for the first time since Euro 84.

“That’s not anything that’s on my mind. I haven’t thought about it so far in the tournament,” she said.

“It’s just about me and the team. We all focus on what will happen on Wednesday. We have every opportunity to make it through to the final and that’s what we will try to do.

“We’ll be walking on to that pitch with a huge deal of self-confidence and I’m convinced that Holland will do the same. What’s happened before is history, it is this match that we’re going to focus on.”

Sweden will be without suspended forward Fridolina Rolfo in Lyon.

PA

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