Mini football figure - Sweden
Miniature football player with kit of the national team of Sweden.
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The Swedish national football team represents Sweden in international football matches. Like the women's national team and the various youth teams, the men's national team is organised by the Svenska Fotbollförbundet, the Swedish Football Association. The national team's greatest success is a gold medal at the 1948 Olympic Games in London and a runner-up title in the World Cup. In total, the team has taken part in eleven World Championships and five European Championships to date, acting as "hosts" once in each case. Sweden is the first country to have played 1,000 international matches. Apart from 1944, Swedish neutrality meant that matches could also be played in the World War years 1914-1918 and 1939-1945, when many other countries had no or very few international matches.
The Swedish football governing body, Svenska Fotbollförbundet, was founded in 1904. On 12 July 1908, the Swedish national team played its first international match against Norway at Balders Hage sports ground in front of 3,000 spectators, winning 11-3. It is the highest-scoring match in Swedish international history to date. Erik Bergström and Erik Börjesson each scored four times.
In the autumn of that year, the selection played in a tournament at the Olympic Games for the first time. In the opening match, the English amateur national team, the tournament favourite, was waiting for them and they won clearly with a 12:1 victory. To date, this is the highest defeat in the history of the Swedish national team. After France's 1:17 defeat by Denmark in the semi-finals, the latter withdrew, leaving the Swedish selection to play in the match for third place. After a 0:2 defeat against the Dutch selection, they still had to settle for fourth place. At the 1912 Olympic Games, the match for third place was replayed in the round of 16. After a hard-fought match, the Netherlands once again secured victory and advanced to the quarter-finals with a 4-3 win after extra time, while Sweden found themselves in the consolation round. There, Italy was too strong in the first round and prevailed 1-0.
First successes and failures
After the First World War, the Swedish team took part in the 1920 Olympic Games. The team was involved in the two highest-scoring games. In the first round, Greece was clearly outclassed 9:0, before their fearful opponents, the Netherlands, prevailed in the quarter-finals 5:4 after extra time. Herbert Karlsson was the tournament's top scorer with seven goals.
At the 1924 Olympic Games, the Swedish national team was the surprise team of the tournament. In the opening match on 25 July, one of the favourites, the Belgian selection, was overrun 8:1. This is still considered one of the biggest sensations. A 5-0 victory over Egypt then saw them through to the semi-finals. There, Switzerland proved too strong, but a 3-1 win in the replay against the Netherlands in the third-place match was the first medal to be won.
In 1928 the team did not take part in the Olympic Games and in 1930 not in the World Cup. After no Olympic competition in 1932, the Swedish selection did not play in a major international tournament again until the 1934 World Cup. Sweden had qualified for the finals in Italy with clear victories over Estonia and Lithuania. A hard-fought 3-2 victory over Argentina saw the team through to the quarter-finals, where they were beaten 2-1 by Germany.
The national team disgraced itself at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. The team lost 3-2 to Japan, who were the heavy underdogs, and was sent home after the first match. In the qualifying round for the 1938 World Cup, the Swedish team was drawn into a group with the German team, Finland and Estonia and qualified for the final round as runners-up. They were lucky with their draw and received a bye in the round of 16, as their opponents from Austria did not take part due to their "homecoming to the Reich". In the quarter-finals, the Cuban national team was outclassed 8:0 before Hungary destroyed the dream of the final with a 5:1 victory. In the third-place match against Brazil, Sweden took a 2-0 lead through goals from Sven Jonasson and Arne Nyberg, but the South Americans turned the game around with two goals from top scorer Leônidas, among others, to win the bronze medal 4-2.
Years of success
The Swedish national team then celebrated its greatest successes in the late 1940s and 1950s. At the 1948 Olympic Games in London, the national team won the gold medal with a 3-1 victory over Yugoslavia in the final. Two years later, they finished third in the 1950 World Cup. This brought the Scandinavian players to the attention of Southern Europe, and some of the national players went on to play professionally in Italy, Spain and France. Since the Swedish association refused to play professional football, these players were not nominated for the national team in the following years, so that a clear decline in performance occurred. Although the bronze medal was won at the 1952 Olympic Games, a number of players left Sweden for the south. As a result, the national team failed to qualify for the 1954 World Cup and the 1956 Olympic Games.
For the 1958 World Cup, the national team selection committee reconsidered the nomination guidelines and brought five Swedes playing abroad into the squad for the tournament. At the World Cup on home soil, the team made it to the final. The hard-fought semi-final against the German national team (also called the Battle of Gothenburg) led to a strong dislike of Sweden in Germany. In the final, the Swedish side met the Brazilian side, who won the World Cup for the first time in the highest-scoring final in World Cup history, winning 5-2 with two goals each from Vavá and Pelé.
Setbacks and a small comeback
For a long time, the Swedish national team was unable to build on the successes of that decade. They regularly failed to qualify for the Olympic Games and the European Championships. It was not until the 1970 World Cup that the Swedish national team again made an appearance on the international stage, although they were unfortunate enough to be eliminated in the preliminary round due to their poorer goal difference with Uruguay.
At the 1974 World Cup, there was a small ray of hope in Sweden's World Cup history. In the draw, the team was only included in pot 4 of the "outsiders". In Group III, the team faced Bulgaria, the Netherlands and again Uruguay. As surprising group runners-up behind the tournament favourites, the Netherlands, they managed to advance to the second final round undefeated and without conceding a goal. Poland and Germany proved to be too strong there, but a final 2-1 victory over Yugoslavia meant the team finished fifth.
The 1978 World Cup was again disappointing. Finishing bottom of the group behind Austria, Brazil and Spain, Sweden said goodbye to international tournaments for twelve years.
Return and small successes
It was not until the qualification for the 1990 World Cup that the Swedish national team rose from obscurity again, having previously won the Four Nations Tournament (1988) in Germany. Nevertheless, the team failed in the preliminary round after three 1-2 defeats against Brazil, Costa Rica and Scotland.
By hosting the 1992 European Championship, Sweden took part in a European Championship for the first time. The team returned to international football with a bang and reached the semi-finals, where they were narrowly defeated by the German national team. In 1994, they achieved another respectable success at the World Cup in the USA, finishing 3rd.
This was followed by another short dry spell until qualification for EURO 2000, but the team failed to win in the preliminary round. At the 2002 World Cup, Sweden was drawn into the so-called group of death with England, Argentina and Nigeria and was regarded as a gross underdog. However, the team won the group undefeated. In the round of 16, the team met the surprise team of Senegal. The Swedish team was unlucky to lose 2-1 with a golden goal scored by Henri Camara in the 104th minute of the match.
The Swedish national team qualified for the 2006 World Cup in Germany as one of the two best group runners-up, having only lost the two matches against group winners Croatia. In the preliminary round of Group B, the team did not manage more than a disappointing 0-0 draw in the first match against the outsiders Trinidad and Tobago, although they created numerous chances. The second match against Paraguay was won 1-0 shortly before the end of the game. In the third and final group game, Sweden drew 2-2 with England. With the draw, Sweden reached the last 16 in second place in Group B behind England. Sweden lost the round of 16 against hosts Germany 0:2. Even stars like Ibrahimović, Ljungberg and Källström were unable to make an impact. On top of that, Sweden had to play almost a whole hour with less players due to a sending-off and also failed to convert a penalty in the second half.
Qualifying for the European Championship was their fifth consecutive participation in a tournament. Once again, however, the team was not convincing and was eliminated in the preliminary round. The Swedish team's results in the subsequent qualification for the 2010 World Cup were also mixed. They only lost their two matches against Denmark, but after two draws against Portugal and a draw against Albania, they missed out on qualification for the tournament as third in the table. Lars Lagerbäck subsequently resigned as national coach and was replaced by Erik Hamrén.
In the qualifiers for the 2012 European Championship finals, Sweden faced Hungary, San Marino, the reigning World Cup finalists Netherlands, Moldova and Finland. The first match in Solna against Hungary ended with a 2:0 victory. The second qualifying match, which was again a home game (but this time in Malmö), ended with a 6-0 win against San Marino. The team lost the third match, in Amsterdam, 4-1 to the group favourites from the Netherlands.
Sweden beat Moldova 2-1 in March 2011 and won the return match in Moldova 4-1, while in the neighbouring duel with Finland, Sweden got the upper hand 5-0. In September, Sweden suffered their second qualifying defeat in Budapest against Hungary (1:2). In Serravalle, the Scandinavians were able to redeem themselves. San Marino were defeated 5:0. In October, the qualifiers ended with a 2-1 win in Finland and a 3-2 win against the Netherlands. As the best group runners-up, the team managed to qualify directly.
At the European Championship finals, the team faced co-hosts Ukraine, England and France. Against Ukraine, the team lost the match 2-1 after leading 1-0. Against England, the Scandinavians lost 2:3 after an interim 2:1 lead, which was tantamount to elimination. Sweden won the final match against the already qualified French 2:0.
In the qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup finals, the team faced Kazakhstan, the Faroe Islands, European Championship semi-finalists Germany, Ireland and Austria. The Swedes won the first match in Malmö against Kazakhstan 2:0, and in Tórshavn Sweden narrowly beat the Faroe Islands 2-1. However, the match against Germany in Berlin was to be memorable. Until the 62nd minute, Sweden was trailing 0:4. However, the team equalised within 30 minutes through Lustig, Ibrahimović, Elmander and Elm (in injury time). Sweden ended up in second place and qualified for the play-offs, where they were eliminated by Portugal.
In the following qualifying round for the 2016 European Championship in France, Sweden was drawn into a group with, once again, Austria, Russia, Montenegro, Moldova and Liechtenstein. Sweden finished third and qualified for the play-offs, where they beat Denmark. They were then drawn into a group with Ireland, Italy and Belgium. The opening game against Ireland ended in a draw and the following games against Italy and Belgium were lost, eliminating the Swedish team after the group stage.
In the qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, the Swedish team played against the Netherlands, Belarus, runners-up France, Bulgaria and Luxembourg. Sweden finished second behind France and ahead of the Netherlands and thus took part in the play-offs, where they met Italy. The first leg in Solna was won 1-0, and a draw in the second leg was enough to qualify for the finals. There they were in a group with world champions Germany, who did not make it through the group stage, South Korea and Mexico. The South Americans and Sweden progressed, while the Scandinavians only failed to reach the quarter-finals against England with 0-2, who went on to finish fourth in the tournament.
In League B of the Nations League, the Swedes faced Turkey and Russia in Group 2. They beat the Russians on goal difference and were promoted to the highest division, Liga A, for the 2020/21 season.
The qualification for the European Championship 2021 was successfully completed with 21 points behind Spain and ahead of the eliminated neighbour Norway. In the group stage of the European Championship 2021, Sweden earned a draw against Spain (0:0), then won the matches against Slovakia (1:0) and against Poland (3:2) and qualified for the round of 16, which they lost to Ukraine with 1:2.
Sweden's participation in World Cup finals
The Swedish national team participated for the first time in the second World Cup, whose finals were held in Italy in 1934. In total, they qualified for a final round tournament eleven times and were automatically qualified once as hosts. As host team, they achieved their best result as runners-up at the 1958 finals. They also reached the semi-finals twice, finishing third in 1994.
An official national coach, Förbundskapten in Swedish, has only existed since 1962. Before that, there was a selection committee (Uttagningskommittén) that determined the nomination of players. During the game, the chairman of the committee was usually responsible for the selection. This is why they are often referred to as the national coaches.
However, the team unofficially had a kind of full-time national coach in the Englishman George Raynor, who coached the selection in the late 1940s and the 1950s and led the team to the runner-up spot in the 1958 World Cup. In 1948, Sweden was coached by Rudolf Kock when it won the Olympic Games. In 1962, Lennart Nyman became the first official national coach.
Sweden is joint ninth with Kuwait in the ranking of players with at least 100 caps. Of the currently active national players, only Sebastian Larsson and Zlatan Ibrahimović have played more than 100 international matches.
Thomas Ravelli and Björn Nordqvist were world record holders from 10 June 1995 to 21 May 1996 with 127 to 130 games and from 3 June 1978 to 15 December 1978 with 109 to 115 games respectively. On 6 September 2013, Anders Svensson equalled Thomas Ravelli's record in a 2-1 win in Ireland. On 10 September 2013, he raised it to 144 games in the match against Kazakhstan and has been the sole record holder ever since.
Zlatan Ibrahimović replaced Sven Rydell as Sweden's record goalscorer on 4 September 2014 with his 50th international goal. Rydell had first equalled Karl Gustafsson's record with his 22nd international goal in a 6-2 win over Hungary on 12 July 1925 and then replaced him as the record scorer with his 23rd goal. Gustafsson, who also scored the first goal in the history of the national team in Sweden's first international match against Norway (see above), had scored 22 times in 32 matches for Sweden between 1908 and 1918. Of the currently active national players, Zlatan Ibrahimović has scored the most international goals with 62.
- 61 mm
- 40 gramms