Sweden national football team

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This article is about the men's team. For the women's team, see Sweden women's national football team.
Sweden
Shirt badge/Association crest
Nickname(s) Blågult
(The Blue-Yellow)
Association Svenska Fotbollförbundet (SvFF)
Confederation UEFA (Europe)
Head coach Erik Hamrén
Asst coach Marcus Allbäck
Captain Zlatan Ibrahimović
Most caps Anders Svensson (148)
Top scorer Sven Rydell (49)
Home stadium Friends Arena
FIFA code SWE
FIFA ranking 29 Increase 3
Highest FIFA ranking 2 (November 1994)
Lowest FIFA ranking 43 (February 2010)
Elo ranking 23
Highest Elo ranking 2 (June 1950)
Lowest Elo ranking 49 (September 1980)
First colours
Second colours
First international
Sweden Sweden 11–3 Norway 
(Gothenburg, Sweden; 12 July 1908)
Biggest win
Sweden Sweden 12–0 Latvia 
(Stockholm, Sweden; 29 May 1927)
Sweden Sweden 12–0 South Korea 
(London, England; 5 August 1948)
Biggest defeat
United Kingdom Great Britain 12–1 Sweden Sweden
(London, England; 20 October 1908)
World Cup
Appearances 11 (First in 1934)
Best result Runners-up: 1958
European Championship
Appearances 5 (First in 1992)
Best result Semi-finals: 1992

The Sweden national football team (Swedish: svenska fotbollslandslaget) represents Sweden in association football and is controlled by the Swedish Football Association, the governing body for Football in Sweden. Sweden's home ground is Friends Arena in Stockholms län and the team is led by Erik Hamrén.

Sweden made their first World Cup appearance in 1934. Sweden has made eleven World Cup appearances and five appearances in the European Championships. They finished second in the 1958 FIFA World Cup, and third in both 1950 and 1994. Sweden's accomplishments also include a gold medal in the 1948 Summer Olympics, and bronze medals in 1924 and 1952. They reached the semi-finals in UEFA Euro 1992.

Traditionally, Sweden are rivals with Denmark and Norway, although a rivalry with England has developed over the years. Sweden failed to qualify for the 2014 World Cup having been edged out by Portugal in the play-off round. Sweden's captain is Zlatan Ibrahimović with Andreas Isaksson as vice captain.

History[edit]

Sweden has traditionally been a strong team in international football, with eleven World Cup appearances and three medals in the Olympics. The Swedish team finished second in the 1958 World Cup, when it was the host team, being beaten by Brazil 5–2 in the final. Sweden has also finished third twice, in 1950 and 1994. In 1938, they finished fourth.

Early history[edit]

Sweden played its first international game against Norway, on 12 July 1908, and won it 11–3. Other games in 1908 were against England, Great Britain, Netherlands (twice) and Belgium. Sweden lost all five games.

In the same year Sweden competed in the 1908 Summer Olympics for the first time. Sweden however lost a game in the Olympics against the Great Britain with 1–12 and it became the biggest loss in the Swedish national team's history.

In 1916 Sweden beat Denmark for the first time.

Sweden played in the 1912 Olympics (as hosts), the 1920 Olympics, and in the 1924 Olympics, where Sweden took the bronze and their first medal ever.

1938 World Cup[edit]

The 1938 World Cup was Sweden's second qualification for the World Cup. In the first round, they were scheduled to play against Austria, but after the Germans occupied the nation of Austria could not continue playing in the tournament. Instead, Sweden went straight to the quarterfinal match against Cuba. They beat Cuba 8–0 with both Harry Andersson (on his debut) and Gustav Wetterström scoring hat-tricks. In the semi-final match against Hungary, Sweden lost 1–5. Sweden's next match was the 3rd place match against Brazil. In that game the Swedes lost 2–4, and ended in 4th place for the first and only time in Swedish football history.

1948 Summer Olympics[edit]

In the first round Sweden played against Austria. The Austrian team had qualified without their professional players, which was a surprise since the Austrian league had many professional players who were allowed to play in the tournament. The match was played at White Hart Lane in London and Sweden won 3–0. In the second game, Sweden played against Korea and won 12–0, one of the two largest margin wins Sweden has ever had. In the semi-final Sweden met their archrivals from Denmark beating them 4–2.

The final was played at legendary Wembley Stadium in London. The attendance was around 40,000 people which was high for a football game in those days. Sweden took on Yugoslavia in the final and won 3–1, with goals by Gunnar Gren (24', 67'), Stjepan Bobek (42') and Gunnar Nordahl (48'). This was Sweden's first championship win in any international football tournament.

1950 World Cup[edit]

In the 1950 World Cup, the Swedish football association did not allow any professional Swedish football players to take part. Sweden consequently only fielded amateur players during the tournament.

Qualifying for the tournament as one of six European national teams, Sweden played in the same group as Italy and Paraguay. (India withdrew from the group.)

In the first game, Sweden beat the Italians, 3–2, in São Paulo. The second game was a 2–2 draw against Paraguay. With the most points in the group, Sweden advanced to the next round.

Their first game in the second stage, also a group format, was against the host nation, Brazil. It was played at the Maracanã with a total attendance of more than 138,000, to this day the record attendance for the Swedish national team. The game ended 7–1 to Brazil and it is rumored that almost everyone in the Brazilian audience waved the Swedes good bye with their scarfs.

The next game was against Uruguay, who Sweden played against for the first time in World Cup history. Played in São Paulo, Uruguay won the game 3–2, which meant Sweden were unable to play for the gold.

The final game for Sweden in the tournament was played in São Paulo, against Spain. Sweden won 3–1 with goals by Stig Sundqvist (15'), Bror Mellberg (34') and Karl-Erik Palmér (79'). Sweden finished 3rd in the group and took their first World Cup medal. As Sweden was the best placed European team, Sweden was, as the time, regarded "unofficial European champions".

1958 World Cup[edit]

Sweden won the silver medal at the 1958 World Cup.

In 1956 the Swedish football federation allowed the professional footballers to play for the national team again, giving Swedish football fans hope for the 1958 FIFA World Cup. Sweden, the host nation, were in the same group as Mexico, Hungary and Wales.

The first game, Sweden vs Mexico, was played at Sweden's national stadium, Råsunda Stadium, Solna, and was attended by around 32,000 people. Sweden won the game 3–0, taking the lead in Group 3. The next match was against Hungary, who had finished 2nd in the 1954 World Cup in Switzerland and were also the 1952 Olympic Champions. Also played at Råsunda, this game ended 2–1 to Sweden, with both goals scored by Kurt Hamrin. In the next match, against Wales, Sweden drew 0–0.

Making it through to the quarter-final, playing at Råsunda for the fourth time in this tournament, Sweden were up against the USSR and won 2–0.

The semifinal at Ullevi, Gothenburg, was the only game in the tournament which Sweden did not play at Råsunda. The crowd of around 50,000 people attended one of the best games Sweden played in the tournament. West Germany led by 1–0 when Erich Juskowiak was sent off in the 59th minute. Sweden won 3–1.

The final was played at Råsunda between host nation Sweden and the 1950 FIFA World Cup runners-up, Brazil. The total attendance was approximately 52,000 people. Brazil ended up winning the World Cup for the first time ever after beating Sweden by 5–2. Sweden consequently became runners-up, the best result for Sweden in any World Cup. After the final match the Brazilian players honoured the host nation by sprinting around the pitch holding a Swedish flag.

1960s[edit]

After the successful 1958 World Cup, Sweden's fortunes diminished. In the qualification round of the 1962 World Cup, Sweden won its group in impressive fashion (scoring 10 goals and only having 3 goals scored against it), but it still had to win a play-off game against Switzerland to qualify. The game was played in West Berlin, and the Swiss won, 2–1.

Sweden almost got to the UEFA European Championship 1964. They started their play-off against Norway and won the first game and drew in the last game. In the second round, Sweden beat Yugoslavia, 3–2, but they lost the first game. In the quarterfinal, Sweden played against the defending champions, the Soviet Union. Sweden tied the first game but lost the second.

During the 1966 World Cup qualification, Sweden was in the UEFA Qualification group 2. Sweden started the qualification with a draw against West Germany and then a 3–0 victory over Cyprus. But only the winner of the group advanced and Sweden was eliminated with a loss in its next game against West Germany.

Sweden successfully entered the UEFA European Championship in 1968, but they finished in the Qualification group 2.

Sweden's only major success in the '60s was to qualify for the 1970 World Cup, after winning UEFA Group 5 ahead of Norway and France. Sweden finished third in its group, losing a tie-breaker with eventual #4 Uruguay, and did not advance to the elimination round, however. The winner of Sweden's group was eventual world runner-up Italy.

1974 World Cup[edit]

In the qualification of the 1974 FIFA World Cup, Sweden was in the same group as Austria, Hungary and Malta. Sweden clinched a narrow win via a classic play off-match against Austria in a snowy Gelsenkirchen, and advanced to the World Cup finals in Germany.

The group Sweden drew into included Uruguay, Netherlands and Bulgaria. The first game against Bulgaria ended in a draw. In the second game against the Netherlands, Sweden drew another tie. The last game of the round was played against Uruguay. That game was the first victory Sweden had in the tournament, when they beat Uruguay 3–0 with goals by Roland Sandberg (74') and Ralf Edström (46', 77'). Sweden finished 2nd in the group and advanced to the second group stage.

In the second group stage, Sweden was defeated in the first game against Poland 0–1. The situation after the defeat against Poland was that if Sweden lost against West Germany with a single goal difference and Yugoslavia defeated Poland, Sweden would be second in the group and play for the bronze medal. But since Poland beat Yugoslavia 2–1, Sweden had to win the game against the host nation, West Germany, in order to finish second in the group.

The game against West Germany was played in Düsseldorf with an attendance of 66,500 people. The Swedish striker Ralf Edström gave the Scandinavian the lead with 1–0 after 29 minutes. But in the second half West Germany took control of the game, even after Roland Sandberg's equalizer after 52 minutes. Germany won 4–2. After the tournament, the German players commented that the game against Sweden was their best game in that tournament. The last game for Sweden was played in Düsseldorf against Yugoslavia. Sweden won that game 2–1. They finished the tournament as the 5th place team.

1979–1990[edit]

After the successful 70s, reaching all three World Cups. Sweden changed their coach from Georg "Åby" Ericson to Lars "Laban" Arnesson. Arnesson had been a successful coach for Östers IF before becoming national coach. After the failed qualification for the 1986 World Cup, Olle Nordin took over the team. Sweden failed to qualify for every World Cup and European Championship during the 1980s, but won their qualification group for the 1990 World Cup ahead of England and went on to their first World Cup in 12 years. However, the World Cup campaign ended quickly after three 1–2 defeats in the group stage matches, against Brazil, Scotland and Costa Rica.

1992 European Championship[edit]

As the host of the 1992 European Championship, Sweden played in their first European Championship tournament. They were drawn in the group with Denmark, France and England. Sweden managed to advance as group winners ahead of the eventual champions Denmark. In the semi-finals following the group stage Sweden were eliminated by Germany 2–3. The place in the semi-final is Sweden's best result in a European Championship to date.

1994 World Cup[edit]

Sweden qualified for the World Cup at the top of their qualifying group ahead of Bulgaria. Sweden was placed in Group B with Brazil, Cameroon and Russia. The first game against Cameroon looked to be yet another 1–2 loss, (after the 1990 World Cup fiasco with losses of 1–2 in all three games), but in the 75th minute Martin Dahlin scored the equalizer from a rebound shot off of Henrik Larsson and the match finished 2–2. In the next game against Russia, Russia was handed an early penalty and made it 1–0. Sweden managed to come back, with a penalty goal from Tomas Brolin and two goals from Martin Dahlin the final result was written 1–3. In the last group stage match against Brazil, they tied 1–1 after goals by Kennet Andersson ('23) and Romário ('47).

In the first knockout stage match, Sweden faced Saudi Arabia and won 3–1 after two goals from Kennet Andersson and one from Martin Dahlin. The quarter-final match against Romania has become a memorable match for Swedish football fans. After Sweden had scored late in the second half, Romania managed to equalize in the dying minutes of the match, sending it into extra time. Romania's Florin Răducioiu who scored the first goal for Romania, scored his second of the day to take Romania ahead at the 101st minute. But with five minutes left Kennet Andersson scored with a header to make it level at 2–2. The penalty shoot-out began with a miss from Håkan Mild of Sweden, but Thomas Ravelli managed to save two penalties from Dan Petrescu and Miodrag Belodedici giving Sweden the win and making himself a hero. Sweden went through to face Brazil in the semi-finals. They had managed to score in the group stage against Brazil but couldn't do it a second time. After Jonas Thern had been sent off with a red card Romário scored the only goal of the game in the 80th minute.

In the third place match Sweden played against Bulgaria who had lost to Italy in their semi-final match. Sweden scored 4 goals in the first half, but the second half went goal-less. Sweden won the bronze medal, the best placing for the national team in a World Cup play-off since the 1958 silver medal. This led Sweden to the second place of the FIFA World Rankings for one month, in November 1994.

They finished as the top scorers of the tournament, with 15 goals.

2000 European Championships[edit]

Sweden qualified impressively for this tournament, winning all games except the away game against England (0–0) and conceding only one goal. The finals however, were a great disappointment. Sweden lost their opening game against the host Belgium 1–2. Johan Mjällby scored the goal for Sweden in the 53rd minute after a mess-up by the Belgian goalkeeper Filip De Wilde while Belgium won via goals from Bart Goor in the 43rd minute and Emile Mpenza in the 46th one. Then Sweden played 0–0 against Turkey and lost 2–1 to Italy. The goal was scored by Henrik Larsson while Italy won via goals from Luigi Di Biagio and Alessandro Del Piero. Sweden finished the group last behind Belgium with only 1 point. Italy finished first and Turkey second.

2002 World Cup[edit]

Sweden was part of the Group of Death, Group F also including big favourites Argentina, England and Nigeria. The first match was against England. Sol Campbell gave England the lead in the first half by heading in a left side corner from David Beckham. In the second half, Sweden took over completely and dominated the game, creating numerous chances. The equalizing goal was scored by midfielder Niclas Alexandersson, a powerful left-foot shot from outside the box past David Seaman. This gave the result 1–1. In the next game, Sweden played Nigeria. Julius Aghahowa gave Nigeria the lead by heading in a cross from the right. But Sweden managed to equalize with a fine goal by Henrik Larsson. Later in the game, Larsson was fouled in the penalty area and Sweden were awarded with a penalty which Larsson himself put in the goal. Sweden won 2–1.

In the final group match, Sweden played Argentina, who needed to win after losing 0–1 to England in the previous game. However, midfielder Anders Svensson scored a great freekick goal from 30 meters. Andreas Andersson then had a shot off the crossbar and out. Mattias Jonson committed a foul in the penalty area and Argentina got a penalty. Ariel Ortega shot straight on Magnus Hedman, the Swedish keeper, but Hernán Crespo rushed into the box and shot the rebound from Hedman between the keepers legs. This was a controversial goal because Crespo began running into the box at the same time as Ortega stepped up to shot. However, the match ended 1–1 and Sweden won the group, England on second place, Argentina third and Nigeria last.

In the round of 16, Sweden played Senegal. Henrik Larsson gave Sweden an early lead by heading in a corner from Anders Svensson. But Senegal equalized through Henri Camara. Senegal also had a goal disallowed for offside. The game came to sudden death golden goal. Rising star Zlatan Ibrahimović came on and nearly won Sweden the game. He made a terrific run on the right wing past several Senegal players, and shot with his weaker left foot from a tight angle straight at Senegals keeper Tony Sylva. Ibrahimović had Larsson and Svensson in excellent positions for a pass, but shot instead. Then Anders Svensson made a great spin past a defender and hit the post with a powerful shot. Sylva had no chance of saving that strike. Henri Camara then took a weak shot which went past Hedman, off the post and went into the goal. Consequently, Sweden were eliminated.

UEFA Euro 2004[edit]

Sweden came into the tournament in Portugal with low expectations. But after a dazzling 5–0 win against Bulgaria they became one of the favorites. Fredrik Ljungberg began the goal-fest after a well done pass by Zlatan Ibrahimović. Henrik Larsson scored 2–0 and 3–0 in the second half. His first goal was done by a nice header after that he received a perfectly taken crossball by Erik Edman. 4–0 was scored by Zlatan Ibrahimović on a penalty and the substitute Marcus Allbäck scored the last goal of the game. After the 5–0 victory, Sweden became a feared team in the tournament and many were surprised by Sweden's offensive play since they were known to mostly play a defensive form of football.

In the next game they were set up against Italy, who would prove themselves as a very hard opponent. After 36 minutes Antonio Cassano scored the first goal of the game for Italy after a cross by Christian Panucci. A great game by Swedish goalkeeper Andreas Isaksson made Sweden survive the rest of the game and after 84 minutes Sweden finally managed to score a goal. Zlatan Ibrahimović made an amazing backheel shot which found the back of the net.

Sweden's last game of the group was held against Denmark. It was said before the game that if Sweden and Denmark played 2–2, Italy would be eliminated from the tournament. This is exactly what happened. Denmark led the game by 2–1 for a long time. But at the end of the game, Mattias Jonson scored the equalizer after numerous rebounds. Italy was eliminated and both Denmark and Sweden was qualified for the quarter-finals.

In the quarter-finals, Sweden had to face Holland. The game became goalless after full-time, but not without a lot of chances. The closest Sweden came to scoring was through Fredrik Ljungberg but he hit the post with a well taken shot. But the game ended goalless in normal time and went to a penalty shootout. After a long run of penalties were taken, it was Olof Mellberg's turn to take a shot. The Dutch goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar saved Mellberg's shot and Holland won the game. Sweden was eliminated and Holland was through to the next round.

Swedish national team of 2006.

2006 World Cup[edit]

Sweden competed in Group B at the 2006 World Cup. Their squad for the tournament featured players who played club football in eleven different nations. Sweden started the World Cup slowly, recording a scoreless tie against unheralded Trinidad and Tobago, despite playing with a one-man advantage for most of the game. The second game, against Paraguay, looked to be another goal-less draw until Fredrik Ljungberg scored in the 89th minute to give Sweden a 1–0 victory. Sweden then rallied to tie England, 2–2, to finish group play with five points – enough to finish second in its group and advance to the second round. There, the team's World Cup run came to an end with a 2–0 defeat to the host team, Germany.

2008 European Championship and 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifiers[edit]

Sweden finished second in Group F behind Spain, thus qualifying for the finals. The campaign included an abandoned match away to Denmark, for which Sweden were awarded a 3–0 win by UEFA.

In their first match in Euro 2008, they beat the reigning European champions, Greece, by a score of 2–0 with goals from Zlatan Ibrahimović and Petter Hansson. Their next game was against Spain, who they played in qualifying. The game looked like a draw until a 92nd minute strike from David Villa, which put the Spaniards ahead. In the final group match, the Swedes went on to lose 2–0 to the Russians, eliminating them from the tournament.

The 2010 FIFA World Cup qualification ended disastrously for Sweden. In the first game in Tirana, they were only able to tie 0–0 with an Albanian side that they were expected to defeat easily. Four days later, Sweden beat Hungary, 2–1, with goals from Kim Källström and Samuel Holmén. They would go on to tie with Portugal twice, both in Stockholm and in Porto. Both games ended 0–0. Sweden would lose to Denmark on home ground with an early strike from Thomas Kahlenberg after a defensive mistake. Sweden had defeated Denmark, 3–0, 2 years earlier. Sweden recovered with a 4–0 hammering of Malta. Against Hungary and Malta, both of the winning goals for Sweden were scored late. They would lose to Denmark again at Parken Stadium in Copenhagen after a late goal from Jakob Poulsen. Meanwhile, Portugal defeated Hungary, 3–0, putting the Portuguese team ahead in the standings. Sweden would defeat Albania, 4–1; however, Sweden was eliminated by Portugal's 4–0 defeat of Malta. Lars Lagerbäck resigned and Erik Hamrén was appointed the next head coach.

2012 European Championships[edit]

The Swedish team before playing against Austria in 2013.

Sweden's Euro 2012 campaign with their new coach, Erik Hamrén, started well with two consecutive wins in Group E against Hungary and San Marino. After that Sweden lost to the Netherlands in Amsterdam with 1–4, but then won against Moldova first in Stockholm with 2–1 and later in Chişinău with 4–1. After the battle against Moldova Sweden beat their neighbor Finland with 5–0. The following game was a defeat when Hungary through Rudolf scored 2–1 home at Stadium Puskás Ferenc at the last minute of full-time. After that Sweden defeated San Marino with 5–0 away including two goals from Christian Wilhelmsson, who before the two games against San Marino and Hungary hadn't been a regular in the starting eleven during Hamréns tenure as head coach. The Swedish team then proceeded to beat Finland with 2–1 and in the final game beat the Netherlands with 3–2 to end their streak of 17 consecutive qualification-game wins. On 2 December 2011, Sweden were drawn into Group D alongside England, Ukraine and France in the Euro 2012 competition.[1][2]

In their Euro 2012 opening match Sweden lost against host nation Ukraine with 2–1.[3] In their second group match Sweden lost to England with 3–2, thus eliminating them from the tournament.[4] In the third game, a Swedish team with nothing to lose or gain outplayed France in a 2–0 victory.

2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers[edit]

Playing in Group C, Sweden finished second behind Germany, and was one of eight teams to move on to the second round of qualification. A key win in Group C was the October 11, 2013, home game against Austria, as Martin Olsson and Zlatan Ibrahimović both scored in the second half to secure the win.[5]

Using the October 2013 FIFA World Rankings, Sweden was ranked 25th and would face one of the four highest ranked teams in the second round of qualification. They were drawn to face Portugal, the team that beat Sweden for a qualification spot in the 2010 FIFA World Cup qualification. After a 0–1 loss in Lisbon and a 2–3 loss in Solna, Portugal won 4–2 on aggregate and Sweden once again failed to qualify for the World Cup.

Swedish supporters during the World Cup 2006 in Dortmund, Germany

Supporters[edit]

Swedish supporters showed up first during the 1912 Summer Olympics, where they chanted "Heja Sverige Friskt humör, det är det som susen gör" (roughly meaning "Go Sweden, being in good spirits is what does the trick!") during the football games. The traveling supporters for Sweden's away games showed up for the first time in the 1974 FIFA World Cup in West Germany, and since then Sweden has always had supporters in large tournaments. In the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, Sweden had one of the largest group of supporters during a tournament, especially during the group stage match against Paraguay with around 50,000 Swedish supporters in attendance, plus an additional 50,000 fans watching the game outside the stadium. The Swedish fans were also voted the best fans during the 2006 World Cup, due to their massive numbers, friendly attitude and love for the game.

Kit history[edit]

1958 home
1970 home
1974 home
1978 home
1990 home
1994 home
2000 home
2006 home
2008 home
2014 home

Sweden's current kit suppliers are Adidas since 2013. Before that, Umbro supplied Sweden's kits from 2003 to 2013. Before that, Adidas were Sweden's kit suppliers between 1974 to 2003 and Umbro supplied Sweden kits in World Cup 1970.

Stadium[edit]

Up until 2012, the Swedish national stadium was Råsunda Fotbollsstadion, but it was replaced in 2012 by the new national stadium Friends Arena. According to FIFA, Råsunda Stadion was a classic stadium, one of only two stadiums in the world, the other one being the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, California, USA, which hosted both the men's and women's World Cup final (1958 FIFA World Cup final and the 1995 FIFA Women's World Cup). Råsunda stadium was opened 18 September 1910, and had a capacity of only 2.000, mostly standing. It was Råsunda stadium and Valhalla stadium in Gothenburg that were the first football fields with grass used for Swedish football. The stadium was expanded during 1937, to a capacity of 40,000 people. The stadium was used for the football tournament in the 1912 Summer Olympics held in Stockholm, and hosted 8 games during the FIFA World Cup 1958. In the UEFA European Championship in 1992, the stadium hosted 4 games and in the 1995 FIFA Women's World Cup it hosted only the final game. But Råsunda stadium is still the only stadium in Scandinavia that has hosted 4 big tournaments. Ullevi in Gothenburg is used for some games which Sweden plays, such as the centennial game of the Swedish football association, against England in 2004. Even other stadiums, such as Swedbank Stadion in Malmö, are used for the national team.

Competitive record[edit]