actually was football in Sweden before Zlatan Ibrahimovic came alone (although
he himself would probably not admit it), and there really was – and still is –
a football national team who actually won some accolades for its play a
national team with rich history and tradition. But now, after the superstar has
retired from international play, the national team will have to learn how to
survive and succeed without him.
As a matter of fact, Sweden had a superstar before Ibrahimovich began playing two, actually, as Martin Dahlin and Henrik Larsson were a pair of forwards who could score almost at will. And if we go way back, Sweden's football history is well decorated and respected.
Sweden first qualified for the 1934 FIFA World Cup Italy, where it reached the quarter-finals. It did better in France four years later, advancing to the semi-finals and ending up in 4th place, after losing to Brazil. Despite a ban from the Swedish Football Association on professional players, the national team finished the 1950 tournament 3rd, after beating Spain 3-1.
As Sweden hosted the 1958 tournament, the Swedish association lifted the ban off professional players and Sweden ended up in the final against Brazil, introducing a 17-year old Pele, who carried his team to its first ever title in a 5-2 thriller. As for Sweden, it was to be the highest ever achievement of the national team.
It took another 30 years for Sweden to return to prominence. After the 1990 FIFA world Cup Italy, Tommy Svensson took over as a coach. Sweden made it re-entry into football's elite in Euro 1992 which it hosted and stopped only 2-3 by Germany in the semi-finals.
For the 1994 world cup tournament in the United States, Sweden had a star-filled team. In addition to Dahlin (Borussia Monchengladbach) and Larsson (Feyenoord, on his way to a magnificent career in Celtic Glasgow and Barcelona), the national team also featured Jesper Bloomqvist (IFK Goteborg, Milan and later Manchester United), Tomas Brolin (Parma) and Kennet Andersson (Caen). This team was up and running. Sweden draw 2-2 with Cameroon in its opening match, Brolin and Dahlin made it 3-1 over Russia and then another draw, this time a 1-1 with Brazil. Dahlin and Andersson made it 3-1 over Saudi Arabia in knockout stage. It was Andersson again in the quarter-finals against Romania, equalizing the score late in overtime. During the penalty shout-out, goalkeeper Thomas Ravelli saved two penalties and Sweden advanced. A 0-1 loss to Brazil sent the national team to the third-place match against Bulgaria, where goals by Brolin, Hakan Mild, Larson and Andersson – all in the first half – made it a 4-0 rout and ensured a 3rd place.
Young Zlatan made his first world cup day view in Japan and South Korea 2002, but the national team hasn't advanced as high up stages since.
The most caped Sweden player is Andres Svensson with 148 appearances between 1999-2013. Sweden top goal-scorer is Ibrahimovic with 62 goals in 116 caps.
Sweden play its home games in Friends Arena in Soina near Stockholm, who holds 54,329 seats.
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