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Sweden

Population: 8,800,000
Area: 449,964 km²
Capital: Stockholm
Language: Swedish

 
THE ROAD TO KOREA/JAPAN
Sweden battled with Turkey for most of the campaign for that top position in the UEFA group 4 and qualification was achieved in Istanbul when Sweden came from behind to beat their rivals with one matchday to go.
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WORLD CUP HISTORY
Participated: (9) 1934, 1938, 1950, 1958, 1970, 1974, 1978, 1990 and 1994
Best placing: Beaten finalists 1958
Topscorer: Kennet Andersson, 5 goals
More detailed history information

 
FIRST ROUND MATCHES
Jun 02 - SWE v ENG  in Saitama
Jun 07 - SWE v NGR  in Kobe
Jun 12 - SWE v ARG  in Miyagi

 
ONE TO WATCH
Henrik Larsson has established himself as the topscorer in Scotland for Celtic, but this is probably his last chance to show that he can deliver also at the greatest stage. He is a great allround striker with no particular weak parts in his game. He is a typical matchwinner and the type of player Sweden needs to have on fire to survive in the 'Group of Death'.

 
WCA VERDICT: First round exit
Sweden are perhaps the best organized side defensively in this group, but also the less creative on the attacking third of the field. They have good results to show off in recent years, but we believe they come up short in this company.



IT'S ALL ABOUT SURVIVAL


by Paul Marcuccitti


    In terms of luck of the draw, Sweden's World Cup has seen both extremes. Not long after the Swedes qualified from one of Europe's weakest groups, they were drawn into Group F for the finals.

    At this World Cup, F stands for Frightening. The Swedes would not have been considered the rank outsiders in any other group but, with England, Nigeria and Argentina for company in Group F, many observers feel that they'll struggle to avoid finishing bottom. If Sweden does manage to make it through to the last 16, the reward could be a Second Round match against France!

    Though it will be extremely difficult, a top two group finish is not beyond this team and, hopefully, coaches Tommy Söderberg and Lars Lagerbäck will not take a defeatist attitude to Korea/Japan. Sweden has an excellent record against England (for whatever that's worth) and things haven't been travelling too smoothly for the Nigerians in recent months. If the Swedes can get results from those two games they may be well placed for their final group match against Argentina.

    And yes, that's the way they should think. Sweden will gain nothing from a pessimistic approach. Of course, the men in yellow will need to be at their absolute best and they will be looking to a couple of star players to help inspire the team.

    Stars like Arsenal midfielder, Freddy Ljungberg - a player with an uncanny ability to put in match winning performances in the big games in the English Premiership. Ljungberg can score and create and if it's the big stage that brings out his best, none could be bigger than the World Cup. Sweden will be expecting him to be the chief supplier to forwards Henrik Larsson and Marcus Allbäck.

    Larsson has a fantastic record at Celtic but can he carry that on in the World Cup finals? He will certainly be faced with defenders of higher calibre in June.

    Fortunately, Larsson and Allback are forming a handy partnership in the national team and between them they scored 13 of Sweden's 20 goals in the qualifiers. Allback's record in the Dutch League is quite exceptional and - though he is less heralded than Larsson - he'll be equally important in the Far East.

    At the time of writing, Wimbledon midfielder Hakan Mild was undergoing a groin operation and, though he is advancing in years, Mild's ability and experience would be quite valuable to the Swedish team in Korea/Japan. Other midfielders likely to figure include Daniel Andersson of Venezia, Southampton's Anders Svensson and the Everton trio: Niclas Alexandersson, Tobias Linderoth and Jesper Blomqvist.

    The Swedes will be hoping to build their defence around the accomplished Barcelona defender, Patrick Andersson, who has undergone a knee operation. He will be racing to be fit in time for the finals. Aston Villa's Olof Mellberg will be another key player at the back.

    Players that might join that pair in defence include Celtic's Johan Mjallby, young Erik Edman - a team mate of Marcus Allback at Dutch club Heerenveen, and Teddy Lucic who plays his domestic football in Sweden for AIK. The highly capable Coventry City shot stopper, Magnus Hedman, will be Sweden's first choice goalkeeper.

    Sweden only conceded 3 goals in 10 qualifying matches - not a bad statistic given that a number of different defenders were used. But it wouldn't be unfair to say that Turkey provided the only real test to Sweden's defence in UEFA Group 4. If there are weaknesses they will, no doubt, be exploited by Messrs Kanu, Owen and Crespo.

    No one will be surprised if the Swedes are on the first plane home but although it might be unwise to put too much money on them advancing to the knockout phase, it could be equally unwise to write them off.



A BRIEF WORLD CUP HISTORY

by Jan Alsos


    Sweden took part first time in 1934 and came away with credit beating silvermedalists from four years earlier Argentina 3-2 in the first round before losing to Germany in the next game. France 1938 saw Sweden go “all the way” to the semifinals. Walkover in the first round set them up with minnows Cuba who suffered a humiliating 8-0 loss which was the full route to the final four for the Swedes. Hungary though proved to be too strong in the semis and Brazil won 4-2 in the third place play-off.

    Sweden took part also in the amputated World Cup in Brazil 1950. They made it to the final pool of four having beaten Italy in the first round, but could not cope with Uruguay and Brazil. They did manage to put Spain behind them though to secure fine bronze medals.

    Eight years later it was time for Sweden to host the World Cup and proud home fans saw their team go all the way to the final beating solid teams like Hungary and Soviet Union plus defending champions West Germany on their way. Brazil with an emerging Pelé won 5-2 in the final though, but Sweden had pleased all their own fans.

    It took many years before Sweden challenged the top teams again. They failed to qualify for Chile ‘62 and England ‘66, but made it to sunny Mexico in 1970 only to get eliminated in a low-scoring first round group containing Italy, Uruguay and Israel. In rainy West Germany did Sweden once again emerge as a team of high class. A creditable fifth place was achieved which included a draw against mighty Holland and a win over Uruguay. They were also involved in a classic game with West Germany, but lost in the end.

    Sweden again suffered in a low-scoring group in Argentina 1978 and were eliminated at the first hurdle. They failed to qualify to any of the World Cups in the 1980s, but were back in Italy 1990 where more poor results followed. Three straight 1-2 defeats sent them out much earlier than the media and fans back home had expected.

    The expectations were low before 1994, but the team grew for every game in the US. Thomas Ravelli became an unlikely penalty-stopping hero against Romania in the quarterfinal. Brolin and Dahlin were world class throughout the tournament and Sweden went on to capture bronze medals scoring more goals than any other team in the competition.

 

 

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