Advantages Pretty side
Disadvantages Ugly football
|Are they fun to watch?|
Sweden sort of sum up the modern second tear international team, always at the major championships but never likely to win it, the status where England are headed now that the Premier League has distracted player from national glory and pride. But in the inaugural days of the World and European Championships, Sweden were willing participants and pioneers of the game. They finished 4th in the 1938 World Cup after beating Cuba 8-0 in the Q/Fs (before being stuffed in the semis by the mighty Hungarians) and in 1950 they went one place better in Brazil by finishing third. In 1958 they were hosts and achieved the feat of making the actual final, losing 5-2 to Brazil, the South Americans first of five World Cup wins. Today they are just Sweden, who crash out in the rounds with lots of draws.The Swedes would do nothing internationally for another 40 years, until the 1990s, where they were resuscitated through being host of the European Championships in snowy Scandinavia; the first time in their history they had made the finals, a surprising fact, and finishing third with the Thomas Brolin, Henrik Larsson, Dahlin team, losing 3-2 to the Germans in the semi-finals. In 1994 pretty much the same team would lose to Brazil in the World Cup semi-finals. Those two years were the glory days of modern Swedish football.
They are a non ambiguous country when it comes to the way they play and always one paced. They expect to draw but that doest stop them trying to win and always pushing to the end, as we saw with the thrilling game with England last week. England, on the hand, are expected to win and so weighed down with unrealistic expectation. Smaller countries have smaller populations and so fewer people to pick from for international football, the stretched out Swede diasporas producing some good footballers but not many outstanding ones over the years. Thomas Brolin was very skillful, as he was at polishing off a few beers and what ever was on his plate before and after games, his feet as twinkle toes on the dance floor as on the pitch. Ibrahimovic is the current golden boy of Swedish football but another man who divides opinion. He was top scorer in Seria A this season with 28 goals and scored 32 in 79 games for Sweden.
We always seem to draw these guys in the big championship, in more way than one, if you excuse the pun, stalemates the usual result, both teams not wanting to lose, even though England’s quality of players and resources should see teams like the Swedes off comfortably. Last weeks game was what we expected from Sweden with coach Hamrén basically telling his players to give the ball to Ibrohimovic.New manager Roy Hodgson, on the other hand, relied on the wingers to hit from deep into the big goon Andy Carrell, Gerrard swinging cross perfect on 28 minutes for the Liverpool striker to rise like a tattooed Geordie Pike to head into the top corner with a mighty leap. But Sweden deployed the same tactics and soon 2-1 up by the hour, old man Melborg with a brace, unexpected to say the least, John Terry beginning to look his age, Cole and the excellent Lescott having to do his work.
And so enter Walcott, a player I really rate but few do, unfairly picked on for some reason. Maybe it’s because he is intelligent and articulate. Who knows? But he scored a good goal from a speculative centre pitch shot and then set up the battling Danny Welbeck to flick it home with impudence for the 3-2 win, England’s first over Sweden in international tournaments, Swede going home.---The Squad—
The Swedish players are clichés, blonde Alice Band metal heads or bearded thinkers, porn star long hair expected, piercing blue eyes compulsory. They look like they are in the wrong profession. Even the team doc looked like he ran a country retreat for hippies! It’s noticeable that only three of head coach Erik Hamrén’s team play in Sweden, which suggests the Swedish league is weak because all the good players leave, Jonas Olsson of West Brom, Seb Larsson of Sunderland and Martin Olssen of Blackburn Rovers. The players are solid but no world beaters.
------Most Capped Players -------
1 Sven Rydell - *49* (43 caps)
6 Kennet Andersson - 31 (83 caps)
7 Marcus Allbäck - 30 (caps)
8 Martin Dahlin - 29 (60 caps)
9 Agne Simonsson - 27 (51 caps)
10 Tomas Brolin - 26 (47 caps)
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