Matildas, Sweden squads forge similar path

As the Matildas prepare to play Sweden for the fourth time in less than two years, respective coaches Tony Gustavsson and Peter Gerhardsson can't help but look at the similarities.

No less than eight of the current Matildas squad played their most recent season in the Swedish Damallsvenskan.

Sam Kerr plays with several Sweden players, including gun defender Magdalena Eriksson, at Chelsea, while Caitlin Foord and Steph Catley team up with striker Stina Blackstenius at Arsenal every week.

They also have similar styles, which both coaches expected to see on show in Saturday's friendly at AAMI Park.

"If you look at where our players and Swedish players are playing, we have similar amount of players in top clubs and top leagues and the Dammallsvenskan," Gustavsson told reporters.

"But also the identity of the team, being a high-pressing team that likes to go hard and forward and fast and being good at set plays, there's a lot of similarities."

Gerhardsson was keenly anticipating a highly tactical battle.

"We play sometimes in an equal way. We want speed, we want passing to go fast. I think that's also modern football," he said.

"If you want to go long in a tournament, the games open up. So the speed, the transitions in both ways are very important.

"And I think the game tomorrow, it's going to be like that."

Then there's Gustavsson and Gerhardsson's clear respect for one another and shared history.

The pair almost worked together when Gustavsson coached Hammarby but Gerhardsson's club at the time, Helsingborgs IF, wouldn't let him go.

Sweden edged Australia 1-0 in the Tokyo Olympics semi-final, won a group stage match 4-2 and drew 0-0 in a pre-tournament friendly.

Gerhardsson admitted he'd love to get another one over his compatriot.

"I know him well and we're good friends," Gerhardsson said.

"I love to beat my boy, nine years old, and my wife when we play games.

"It's the same here, I want to beat Tony."

For his part, Gustavsson didn't want to get too tied up in any personal rivalry, hailing Gerhardsson's "phenomenal" work with Sweden.

"I would have loved to work with Peter back then, we were very close to doing it," Gustavsson said.

"Do I want to beat Sweden, do I want to beat Peter? Of course I do.

"But this is more about the Matildas and Australia versus Sweden than me versus Peter."