The all-time World Cup

March 29th 2005
Rio de Janeiro, Maracana
1-2 (1-0)

      GOALS                   31'  1-0  Gunnar Nordahl
                              54'  1-1  Josef Bican
                              75'  1-2  Matthias Sindelar

      REFEREE                 Said Belqola (Morocco)

      ATTENDANCE              97,000

      YELLOW CARDS            Nilsson, Rydell (SWE) - Ocwirk, Sara (AUT)

      SWEDEN (Coach: George Raynor, system 4-2-4)

       1 Ronnie Hellström
       2 Orvar Bergmark (2nd captain)
       5 Bengt Gustavsson
       4 Björn Nordquist (captain)      (-80)
       3 Erik Nilsson
      10 Gunnar Gren
       8 Nils Liedholm
      19 Kurt Hamrin
       9 Gunnar Nordahl
      15 Sven Rydell                    (-71)
      11 Lennart Skoglund               (-63)

      13 Sigvard Parling                (+63)
      20 Henrik Larsson                 (+71)
      14 Ralf Edström                   (+80)

      AUSTRIA (Coach: Hugo Meisl, system 4-3-3)
       1 Rudi Hiden
      18 Robert Sara
       5 Bruno Pezzey
       6 Ernst Happel
       4 Gerhard Hanappi
       8 Herbert Prohaska               (-90)
       7 Ernst Ocwirk (captain)
      10 Matthias Sindelar
      13 Josef Bican
      12 Franz Binder                   (-60)
      14 Karl Koller                    (-88)

       9 Hans Krankl                    (+60)
      20 Alfred Körner                  (+88)
      15 Walter Nausch                  (+90)


    Hugo Meisl had learned his lesson from the first match against England and threw the 1-on-1 tactic overboard that Austria had chosen for that match. Ernst Happel now played constantly behind his three defenders, Pezzey had the order to shadow Rydell closely and Sara, replacement for the suspended Sesta, was brought in to keep an eye on Nordahl. Sindelar now played in midfield, more exactly from the left, and Bican and Binder had the opportunity to show what they could do from the beginning. Hans Krankl was benched.

    For Sweden Gunnar Nordahl had recovered from the injury that had kept him out of the game for most of the time against Denmark. But surpringly it wasn't Sven Rydell who was left out of the team, but coach Raynor opted for four strikers. He asked Hamrin and Skoglund to play just a little less deep than against the Danes and to function as midfielder when Sweden had possession. Rydell, with his goal in the first match, had forced himself into the starting XI. All in all an extremely attacking side, not what you would expect from a solid but mostly not too daring side like Sweden.

    The fans of a tactical battle had a great time is this match. It turned out to be the expected collision between two equally strong teams, with strikers considered to be better than their opponents in defence. And that appeared to be the case on the field. Sara found it very difficult to do something against the strong and agile Nordahl, who wasn't hampered anymore by his injury sustained against Denmark. Pezzey had to run a lot of metres to cover Rydell. On the other side Gustavsson and Nilsson were in trouble when the Austrians found their strikers Bican and Binder. The first chance in the match came for Austria, a little bit better out of the starting blocks. Prohaska released Bican, his shot hit the outside of the post but Hellström would have saved it had it been between the posts.

    >From the 10th minute both teams equally strong. In midfield there was a hard fought battle between Ocwirk and Liedholm, but Sindelar mostly was the better of Gren. The Virtuoso from Vienna decided the pace of the game, had a lot of good passes and fine individual efforts. One of those actions led to a free shooting opportunity for Bican, but Nordquist tackled him from behind. Referee Belqola saw no foul. Ronnie Hellström, who again established his reputation as one the best goalkeepers in World Cup history, kept Koller from scoring and on the other side of the pitch Hiden was present when Skoglund threatened to break through. He forced the Swede to the outside and blocked the effort to cross. All that left Sweden was a corner kick.

    It was a perfect balanced match but the lead for Sweden still came a bit as a surprise. Hamrin for the first time beat Hanappi on speed and served Rydell. The small striker hit Hiden with his volley, but inevitably Nordahl was in the right spot to net the rebound: 1-0. Sweden had put themselves into the driver's seat, having won against Denmark and having taken this lead against Austria. The second round was well in sight. The confidence that Austria had shown until that moment seemed to have disappeared. Passes didn't reach their destination, they didn't work together as much as they had done and captain Ocwirk had lots of work to do to keep his men to their task. Behind against the sound Swedish team certainly left them with a huge problem. Scoring wouldn't be enough, they had to win.

    But Austria came out of the dressing room for the second half with a fresh attitude, determined to make the most out of it and prepared to storm the Swedish castle. And within 2 minutes they got the perfect chance to turn the game around. Koller proved to be quicker than Bergmark and the defender tackled him. Koller fell to the ground, Belqola decided that it was enough for a penalty kick. Happel crossed the field to equal the score but Hellström brilliantly dived it out of the corner. It was still 1-0 this way, but Austria had smelt blood and remained the better team now. They knew they would be out of the competition should they lose this match and put the Swedes under enormous pressure. Happel, felling guilty of missing the penalty, now played more in midfield than in the first half and that gave Ocwirk the support he needed. And it paid off. The equalizer came, though it was a remarkable goal. Bican shot on goal from distance, from Gustavsson's leg it bounced back from the bar. Bican had run on and fired it in: 1-1.

    It was now everyone's game. Belqola had to give a few yellow cards to keep things decent. But it was a very attractive match. There was a lot to enjoy. And most of all the Austrians stole the show. Sindelar painted one attack after the other, passing the ball to his strikers who were superior to the Swedish defenders just as predicted. Krankl, who had come in for Binder, was close to scoring but Hellström once more kept his team in the race. But in the 75th minute even the splendid goalie was left without a chance. A high cross from Hanappi was headed through by Krankl. Sindelar arrived at the second post to slide it in: 1-2. It was a well deserved lead. Austria had made the game in the second half and apart from a few efforts from distance by Gren - all of them no problem for Hiden - Sweden hadn't been able to create chances.

    Sweden, where Henrik Larsson had replaced the tired Rydell earlier, now substituted Nordquist for an extra man up front, tall Ralf Edström. Raynor took the risk of running into an Austrian counterattack that would throw all Swedish hopes to tatters. Austria had to go back and had Lady Luck on their side when Edström sensationally was close to equalizing 30 seconds after entering the pitch. He turned away from Pezzey, just as tall, but when he tried to tap it in suddenly Hiden was there to block it. The goalkeeper also spoilt Gren's effort. Henrik Larsson, who did well in the minutes that were given to him, strongly went past Sindelar and Hanappi but also found Hiden in the way. It ended 2-1 in favour of Austria. It was the win they needed so badly and what they had fought for. It had been an interesting and open match. Both teams now were on 3 points with everything in their own hands. First England would meet Denmark but regardless of the result, the eventual outcome of this close group would be decided in the last match, all teams would still be possible qualifiers.

    Switzerland had no chance in their first match against Argentina and must upset the other big favourite in this group, Germany, to keep a chance of qualifying. Everyone, the Swiss themselves in the first place, realize that it is very difficult, but there is always the possibility of a surprise. Any coach in this All Time World Cup had a lot of great players to choose from, but Karl Rappan has no worldbeaters, knows it and will not turn everything upside down. They hope for a bit of underestimating by the Germans. Helmut Schön has no worries. Germany won easily against Turkey and hope for just as little resistance from Switzerland. Romualdas Arppi Filho is the referee, the match will be played in the Wembley Stadium in London where Germany have different memories from. Come back here next Friday and experience what happens between Switzerland and Germany.


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