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World Cup Preview – Sweden (23/32)

Sweden

UEFA

Group F

Best World Cup Performance: Runners-up – 1958

Current World Ranking: 24

History

Sweden will be making their 12th appearance at the FIFA World Cup and will be hoping to replicate their previous efforts which have often resulted in them qualifying for the knock-out stage.

It has been a while since Blågult appeared at the tournament, with their last appearance coming in 2006 in Germany, where they were knocked out in the last 16. Sweden’s best ever performance in the World Cup came all the way back in 1958, where they were Runners-up losing 5-2 to Brazil, although most people will not be expecting the Swedes to get that far in Russia. 

Squad

Goalkeepers: Robin Olsen (Copenhagen), Karl-Johan Johnsson (Guingamp), Kristoffer Nordfeldt (Swansea).

Defenders: Mikael Lustig (Celtic), Victor Lindelof (Manchester United), Andreas Granqvist (Krasnodar), Martin Olsson (Swansea), Ludwig Augustinsson (Werder Bremen), Filip Helander (Bologna), Emil Krafth (Bologna), Pontus Jansson (Leeds United).

Midfielders: Sebastian Larsson (Hull), Albin Ekdal (Hamburg), Emil Forsberg (RB Leipzig), Gustav Svensson (Seattle Sounders), Oscar Hiljemark (Genoa), Viktor Claesson (Krasnador), Marcus Rohden (Crotone), Jimmy Durmaz (Toulouse).

Forwards: Marcus Berg (Al Ain), John Guidetti (Alaves), Ola Toivonen (Toulouse), Isaac Kiese Thelin (Waasland-Beveren).

Group Fixtures

  1. Vs South Korea 13:00, 18.06.18                  Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, Nizhny Novgorod
  2. Vs Germany 19:00, 23.06.18                  Fisht Olympic Stadium, Sochi
  3. Vs Mexico 15:00, 27.06.18                  Central Stadium, Yekaterinburg

Manager – Janne Andersson

55-year-old Janne Andersson has spent his entire footballing career in the lower leagues of Sweden. He continued this theme through to his managerial career, staying in the Scandinavian nation and managing five sides.

Andersson’s methods gained him managerial prestige, especially after a surprising win of the Swedish Allsvenskan with minnows IFK Norrköping in 2015, having taken them up from the Swedish second division.

The national team came calling in 2016, and Andersson did exceptionally well to qualify from a tough group, and eventually knock out Italy in the play offs.

Qualification

Sweden qualified somewhat surprisingly after beating Italy in the UEFA qualification play-offs, breaking Italian hearts, and preventing Buffon from a fairy-tale end to his international career.

Sweden qualified for the play-offs after finishing second in UEFA qualifying group, narrowly edging past the Netherlands on goal difference. Marcus Berg netted 8 times, making him the top goal scorer of the group. Janne Anderson will be hoping the striker can carry the from through to the group stage.

 Captain – Andreas Granqvist

Captain Granqvist has led the Blågult since controversial striker Zlatan Ibrahimović retired from international duty in 2016. The central defender has made over 433 appearances, playing in the heart of defence for sides such as Wigan in the Premier League, Groningen in the Eredivisie, and Genoa in Serie A.

The 33-year-old is currently at Russian club FC Krasnodar and has been for five seasons, so will be used to playing in many of the Russian stadiums that will be utilised during the tournament.

 Dangerman – Marcus Berg

The striker will be leading Sweden’s attacking line at this World Cup and will be hoping to fill the boots of the talismanic striker Zlatan Ibrahimović.

Berg has been in prolific for his club side Al Ain, scoring 25 times in 21 appearances since signing in 2017. Prior to playing in UAE, Berg had successful spells with Panathinaikos, Groningen, and PSV, netting over 235 career goals.

Being the highest scoring Swedish player in the World Cup squad there will undoubtedly be pressure on the striker to deliver, especially considering Ibra will not be present for Sweden.

 Young Player- Victor Lindelöf

Lindelöf arrived at Manchester United with the fans expectant of a lot of him, and it is fair to say he hasn’t quite lived up to the hype. The defender signed for United for around £30 Million but struggled to fit in and has recently been linked to newly promoted Wolves.

However, it would be unfair to write off the youngster, and a solid display at the World Cup could rectify his partly damaged reputation.

 Premier League Players

Manchester United’s Lindelöf is the sole Premier League player in Janne Anderson’s Swedish World Cup squad for Russia 2018.

Kristoffer Nordfelt and Martin Olsson have just been relegated with Swansea from the Prem, whilst Andreas Granqvist (Wigan, 2006-08) John Guidetti (Man City, 2008-2015) and Seb Larsson (Arsenal, Birmingham, Sunderland) all have Premiership experience.

Elsewhere in the UK, Mikael Lustig is on the books of Scotland hegemons Celtic, and Pontus Jansson plies his trade with Leeds United in the Championship.

Prediction 

Sweden’s opening fixture against South Korea will be vital, and anything less than a win will come as a great disappointment. Even with a win, Mexico and Germany stand in the way of reaching the knock out rounds, a big challenge for the Swedes.

However, Sweden have shown they have what it takes in big games, knocking out Italy in the UEFA qualifying play-offs, a result that surprised many. Andersson will surely be harnessing this experience to give Sweden a fighting chance of qualifying from the group.

Written by Calum Ridgewell.

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