Tonight England will face off with Sweden in the hope of reaching their first major final since 2009.
While the Lionesses are the favourites going into the semi-final as they are playing on home turf, Sweden’s players can count on strong support from the sidelines too.
In particular, captain and star defender Magdalena Eriksson has enjoyed the support of her girlfriend and Chelsea teammate Pernille Harder throughout the tournament.
Magdalena and Danish international footballer Pernille, who met while playing together at Chelsea, were photographed kissing in an intimate moment after Sweden beat Canada in the 2019 World Cup in France.
Lauded as one of football’s ‘power couples’, the players have been together since 2014 and have established themselves as icons on and off the pitch.
Magdalena Eriksson and Pernille Harder shared a kiss after Sweden had beaten Canada at the 2019 World Cup in France
The pair have since gone on to establish themselves as icons on and off the pitch
Magda Eriksson and her girlfriend Pernille Harder appeared together on the front cover of Elle UK speaking about playing football as women
Sweden are the team standing in the way of England and their first major final since 2009
The couple appeared in a short film, ‘Love Always Wins’ by Ten Toes production about their relationship and coming out as gay earlier this year.
Speaking over intimate clips of the couple holding hands and cuddling up to each other, Magdalena said: ‘To be out, open and myself has been my goal since I was a kid.
‘The fact that I’m here today and I am open about my relationship with Pernille, it makes me proud of myself that I’ve come this far.
‘It makes me proud of Pernille as well that she has come this far.’
She added they now want to ‘help others and inspire others’ by being open about their relationship and encouraging other LGBT+ people to be open about who they are.
The couple also appeared with other female footballers in Elle Magazine as this summer’s tournament kicked off.
With home advantage on their side, England will be slight favourites on Tuesday night
Appearing with her arms around her girlfriend as the pair donned bright pink and red tulle A-Jane dresses, Magdalena said: ‘Whether female or male, you need an equal opportunity to be the best you want to be.’
Despite being held up in the LGBT+ community as role models, Magda admitted she and Pernille never intended for their status.
She said: ‘Neither me or Pernille had an objective to become gay role models,’ Eriksson told Forbes in an interview in 2020.
‘We were just quite open from the start when we started seeing each other. From then on, we’ve both had successful careers, we both became role models and well-known names. It just kind of happened.
‘It has been important for us not to hide something and just to be ourselves. To show people, that is how it should be. That’s how we want the world to be. We want people to be themselves and that’s how we want to be as well.’
‘I didn’t know there was a photographer there, so I didn’t even know about the photo,’ Harder later said. ‘It was just a quick kiss after a match, like we’d done other times after other matches.
Harder and Eriksson have been in a relationship since 2014 and continue to blaze a trail for the sport
Jennifer Falk and her girlfriend announced they were expecting a baby on Instagram earlier this year
‘This time there was a camera and one thing led to another, the photo appeared on social media and there were loads of comments, the majority very positive.
‘It made us realise that we are role models, not just in football but in other ways. It is something we have accepted because we know we are lucky to feel safe and relaxed being in a relationship which is public knowledge.
Another role model hoping to shine on the pitch for Peter Gerhardsson’s team tonight is striker Kosovare Asllani.
The daughter of Kosovan migrants who emigrated to Sweden, Kosovare’s name literally translates as ‘girl from Kosovo’.
Although she represents her home country of Sweden in football she stays true to her roots, with a tattoo of the double-headed black eagle of Albania on her ankle.
‘I definitely feel like a role model,’ she told Morning Star Online in 2017. ‘I get a lot of messages. My parents tell me young people really look up to me because I’m one of the few Albanian footballers in the women’s game that reached the top level.
‘I was born in Sweden, but at the same time I’m really proud of my heritage, that my parents are born and raised in Kosovo, I’m both Albanian and Swedish.
‘I grew up with a family that have shown me how people in Kosovo listen to Albanian music. I love it. We’re not a bad country.’
In goal for the Swedes is mother-to-be Jennifer Falk, who recently announced on Instagram that she and her girlfriend were expecting a baby.
Posting a photo of the couple smiling with a picture of an ultrasound scan, she wrote: ‘We are going to be mothers! See you in the fall, little friend.’
Kosovare Asllani is the daughter of Kosovan migrants who emigrated to Sweden
Her first name – literally meaning ‘girl from Kosovo’ – is an example of her not wanting to forget her roots
Meanwhile, fellow forward and Arsenal striker Stina Blackstenius leads the Swedish frontline
Stina Blackstenius started playing football with her older brother when she was a teenager
Sweden manager Peter Gerhardsson started his coaching career as a high school PE teacher
Meanwhile, fellow forward and Arsenal striker Stina Blackstenius leads the Swedish frontline.
Stina started playing football with her older brother Oscar in a team her father Magnus managed, and it was not until she turned 15 that she decided to football was the career she wanted to pursue.
The striker also has a famous sporting sister – international handball player Nina Koppang. Stina played handball herself until 2013, when she dropped the sport to pursue football competitively.
The Sweden side, led by Peter Gerhardsson, will be hoping to disrupt the Lionesses’ momentum at Bramall Lane, Sheffield this evening.
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