The all-time World Cup

February 1st 2005
Stockholm, Råsunda Stadion
2-1 (2-0)

      GOALS                    2'  1-0  Gunnar Nordahl
                              41'  2-0  Sven Rydell
                              69'  2-1  Preben Elkjaer-Larsen

      REFEREE                 Maurice Guigue (France)

      ATTENDANCE              47,000

      YELLOW CARDS            -

      SWEDEN (Coach: George Raynor, system 4-3-3)

       1 Ronnie Hellström
       2 Orvar Bergmark
       5 Bengt Gustavsson
       4 Björn Nordquist (captain)
       3 Erik Nilsson
      10 Gunnar Gren
       6 Bo Larsson                   (-71)
       8 Nils Liedholm
      19 Kurt Hamrin
       9 Gunnar Nordahl               (-22)
      11 Lennart Skoglund             (-80)

      15 Sven Rydell                  (+22)
      18 Ove Grahn                    (+71)
      14 Ralf Edström                 (+80)

      DENMARK (Coach: Sepp Piontek, system 4-3-3)
       1 Peter Schmeichel
      18 John Sivebaek                (-66)
       3 Ivan Nielsen
       4 Morten Olsen (captain)
      17 Jan Heintze
      15 Frank Arnesen                (-75)
       5 Nils Middelboe
       6 Sören Lerby
       8 Michael Laudrup
       9 Poul Nielsen                 (-83)
      11 Preben Elkjaer-Larsen

      14 Allan Simonsen               (+66)
      10 Ole Madsen                   (+75)
      20 Brian Laudrup                (+83)


    It wasn´t deserved, the home advantage had played a big role and referee Guigue denied Denmark a clear penalty kick. But when the market was over, the points belonged to the Swedes.

    This was the game Sweden played in their own Rasunda Stadium and they immediately tried to gain control. It started with a load of attacks from the yellowblue and in the 2nd minute already, the big gun Gunnar Nordahl could slot home from close range after a cross from Kurt Hamrin. Nordahl held off Ivan Nielsen and Peter Schmeichel could do nothing about it. It was Nordahl's only feat of arms in the match. After 20 minutes Ivan Nielsen wouldn't take more chances and tackled Nordahl heavily. So heavily that the Swede was hurt and that was the end for the topscorer. Sven Rydell, a prolific scorer in the 20's and 30's, came in his place.

    Denmark didn't seem to be too impressed by falling behind so soon. Under guidance of Morten Olsen the cool, but still temperamental man, Danes played their favourite game: trying to combine through their active midfielders and this way serving their forwards. Coach Sepp Piontek had surprisingly chosen Michael Laudrup as a forward but he wasn't starved of the ball this night. In midfield Nils Middelboe played an important part, he was a class on his own and clearly the better of Bo Larsson. Sören Lerby met Gunnar Gren in an interesting match-up and the same applied to the confrontation between playful Frank Arnesen and the calculating Nils Liedholm. It gave the Danes the better of play, but no goals. Ronnie Hellström, the sound Swedish goalie, parried a long shot from Arnesen well and Elkjaer-Larsen missed two shots from 10 metres out. Sweden were not able to set much against it. Hamrin had provided Nordahl with the cross for 1-0, but apart from that he had nothing to tell against Heintze and with Nordahl out the main threat had disappeared anyway. And as far as Lennart Skoglund was concerned, Sweden seemed to play with 10 men.

    Thus a fine performance by Denmark, until that one moment that would cost them dear, a few minutes from the end of the first half. A long kick from Gustavsson should have been intercepted by Morten Olsen, but the captain misjudged it completely and Rydell was gone. Gentleman Olsen wasn't exactly the person to foul him intentionally, a couple of seconds later Schmeichel was outplayed too and the 2-0 was on the scoresheet. Against the run of play, but one moment of inattention did the damage to Denmark. Sweden had taken the most of their two chances.

    Nevertheless, Piontek made no changes during the break. He relied on the class his team had up front and they had shown to be able to play up against the home team. The only thing the German coach hoped for, was for more attention at the back. And they did so, the Danes. They played agressively and Sweden were jailed in their own half. It was a one-way traffic in Hellström's direction. The Swedish goalie was tested by Michael Laudrup who released a header. Hellström saved it perfectly and was at his post again when Poul Nielsen tried from a tight angle. It was all Denmark in the second half, but goals didn't come easy. Piontek decided now that he had to bring fresh blood and Allan Simonsen, the quick and skillful striker, came in place of back John Sivebaek. Michael Laudrup now came more from midfield and tried to set up even more attacks.

    Laudrup immediately stamped his authority. He released Elkjaer-Larsen who rounded Nordquist easily and tapped it over Hellström in the net: 2-1. Everything possible again. It gave Denmark new hope. Ole Madsen replaced Frank Arnesen and that increased the pressure. And shortly after the substitution, the most disputed moment in the match: Nordquist clearly handled a Middelboe cross into corner. Friend and foe awaited a penalty kick for Denmark but Guigue didn't see it. Denmark, not the team to start complaining, wouldn't stop pressing and Madsen tried his luck a couple of times, only to find Helleström in great shape. Until then Sweden had done nothing but defending in the second half, but when the end of the match approached the hometeam, with Grahn for Larsson and target man Edström for the invisible Skoglund, found their play again. Hamrin could have decided it, but after skipping past Heintze he hit it straight at Schmeichel. The giant goalkeeper couldn't hold the ball, but Ivan Nielsen slided it away before Edström could score. When Maurice Guigue, the most discussed man on the pitch who didn't show a single card, ended the match Sweden had won three hardfought points. They celebrated as if the All Time World Cup had been won already.

    Denmark was left with a moral hangover. They had controlled the match throughout apart for a few silly moments that cooked their goose. Reaching the second round now would be very difficult, with matches against England and Austria coming up. Sweden, a tactically whetted team, had taken optimum advantage of the chances that Denmark themselves had offered them. In this very even group a win would be important for any team and it sure was for Sweden. Denmark now would travel to Buenos Aires for the match with England, while Sweden would meet Austria in Rio de Janeiro.

    Next Friday in Berne, Switzerland receives Argentina, or should we say David receives Goliath? Argentine coach Cesar Menotti has great individuals like Maradona and Di Stefano on his side, but yet has decided that Daniel Passarella, the man who served him so well in 1978 and 1982, will captain the team. It remains to be seen how Maradona responds to it, the more because Menotti was the coach to deny him a place in the 1978 squad. Still Argentina are handled as one of the big favourites. Switzerland hope they will not be overrun. Coach Karl Rappan certainly is expected to create some new system to withstand the biancocelestes, and hopes that the Abegglen brothers André "Trello" and Max "Xam" as well as Josef Hügi can hurt them at the back where Argentina, apart from Passarella, might be just a little more vulnerable. What happens? We'll see on Friday.


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