Sweden

Sverige / Sweden

  • Capital: Stockholm
  • Official Languages: Swedish
  • National Minority Languages: Finnish, Meänkieli, Sami, Romani, Yiddish
  • Nicknames: Blågult (The Blue and Yellow)
  • Association: Svenska Fotbollförbundet (SvFF)
  • FIFA Code: SWE

Records

  • Best World Cup Result (Men): Finalists (1958)
  • Best World Cup Result (Women): Finalists (2003)
  • Best Euros Result (Men): Semi-Finals (1992)
  • Best Euros Result (Women): WINNERS (1984)
  • Highest FIFA Ranking (Men): 2nd (November 1994)
  • Highest FIFA Ranking (Women): 3rd (June 2007)
  • Lowest FIFA Ranking (Men): 45th (Various)
  • Lowest FIFA Ranking (Women): 11th (June 2018)
  • Most Capped Player: Therese Sjögran – 214 caps
  • Top Scorer: Lotta Schelin – 88 goals

The Kingdom of Sweden (Konungariket Sverige) is a Nordic country situated in the middle of Scandinavia, in northern Europe. They have a long land border with Norway along the west of the country, and with Finland to its northeast with the Gulf of Bothnia separating the two countries. In addition, Sweden also shares a transport bridge-tunnel (a monumental feat of civil engineering) across the narrow Öresund Strait with nearby Denmark at its southern tip, which effectively links up the cities of Copenhagen and Malmö.

Football has been played in Sweden since the end of the 19th century but it wouldn’t be until 1904 when the SvFF was founded, becoming founding members of FIFA in the same year, with the national team eventually having its first officially recognised international game in 1908 by beating their western neighbours Norway 11-3. They made their first (of twelve appearances) in the World Cup in the 1934 edition where they reached the quarter-finals, and improved upon that in the 1938 edition by finishing in fourth place. After the Second World War, Sweden were regarded as one of the best teams in the world which was emphasized by the fact they finished in third position in the 1950 World Cup, and then reached the 1958 final in a tournament they also hosted. Alas there would be no home triumph for the Blågult, despite beating the defending world champions of West Germany in the semi-finals, as they would suffer defeat to a star-laden Brazil side 5-2, which would complete and ensure Brazil’s rise to a superpower in international football.

Since finishing finalists in 1958, the Swedes have yet to match that achievement. They have continued to be regular qualifiers for the World Cup albeit without much noticeable success. It wouldn’t be until the early 1990s when another talented generation progressed into the national team. Firstly they reached the semi-finals of Euro 1992 (which they hosted) before they impressed the world with their attacking spirit in USA ’94 by beating Saudi Arabia and Romania (on penalties) to surprisingly reach the semi-finals of the World Cup. Once again the Brazilians would end their dreams of glory when they edged them in a tense 1-0 game to reach the final (and subsequently win the tournament), leaving Sweden to compete in the 3rd Place Playoff against another surprise package in Bulgaria. Sweden completed an excellent and memorable tournament by demolishing the Bulgarians 4-0 to claim third place and achieve their best World Cup performance since 1958. The Swedish team continue to be regular qualifiers in the major tournaments having qualified for the past six European Championships and scheduled to play in this summer’s upcoming tournament, whilst in their previous World Cup in 2018, Sweden reached the quarter-finals of the tournament in an impressive showing from the national side.

Whilst the men’s side continue to be regular qualifiers for tournaments, the Swedish women’s national team is regarded as one of the best sides in women’s international football. They have qualified for every since edition of the Women’s World Cup since its inception in 1991, progressing to the knockout stages in all but one tournament. Sweden reached the World Cup final in 2003 after beating Brazil (finally) and Canada in the knockout stages, but lost to Germany 2-1 via the now rescinded ‘Golden Goal’ law. Nonetheless, they continue to perform admirably in the World Cup having finished third on three occasions, most recently in the 2019 World Cup when they beat England’s Lionesses 2-1 in Nice. In the European Championships, Sweden won the very first edition of the tournament in 1984, and have been subsequently finalists three times since in 1987, 1995 and 2001, whilst reaching the semi-finals a further four times. They have also qualified for the upcoming tournament in 2022, and have been ranked as the fifth best team in the tournament in preparation for the group draw in the near future. With a such a wealth of talent within their squad, they will be considered as one of the strong favourites to lift the European title in 2022.

Talking about an international side who were World Cup finalists on home soil in 1958, finished third in 1950 and (most recently and famously) in 1994, were quarter-finalists in 2018, and have qualified for the last six European Championships, we interviewed the excellent MikaelinhoFM. He is a Swedish streamer and blogger who creates really interesting series on the Football Manager series of games, such as getting Brommapojkarna from the Swedish third division to the UEFA Champions League. Most recently he created the fictional country of Bordavia, which included a complete football pyramid and playable teams competing within the leagues. It is certainly an incredible series which should be checked out! To find his Twitch channel, YouTube, website and social media accounts, follow the links below:

Q. Who would you say is your country’s best player and coach/manager of all-time, and the reasonings behind the choices?

Tomas Brolin

Without a doubt it’s Zlatan Ibrahimović. He’s just one level above everyone else. My favourite is Tomas Brolin though, but maybe that just shows how old I am…

Q. Who could be regarded as a ‘cult hero’ in terms of the national team both in the past and present?

This is a bit of a tough one. There have been players who have performed very well for their clubs but never for the national team. Two players come to mind and they are Pär Zetterberg and Anders Limpar who were magnificent for Anderlecht and Arsenal respectively, but never reached the same levels of recognition with the national team. There’s a bit of mystique around them, which is the closest to cult hero status in my book. Oh, and Thomas Ravelli, the keeper who won us the penalty shootout in the quarter final of the World Cup ’94. He was absolutely bonkers! And Glenn Hysén. Hilarious. But bonkers. God I’m old.

Q. Of the current team, who would you say is the best player from Sweden currently?

Alexander Isak

It’s a toss up between Emil Forsberg [29 year old attacking midfielder at RB Leipzig], Alexander Isak [21 year old striker currently playing for Real Sociedad] and Dejan Kulusevski [20 year old attacking midfielder playing at Juventus]. All very good at what they’re good at, but none of them close to being a complete player.

Q. How would you describe the current state/performance of the national team?

I’m cautiously optimistic. On a (very) good day we can rattle some of the best national teams out there and a bad day doesn’t automatically result in a draw at home against Faroe Islands like it used to!

Q. Are there any Swedish players who you think we should be focusing on for the future – who would you say is the most exciting up & coming talent from the country?

Jesper Karlsson

I’m repeating myself here with Isak and Kulusevski. They are doing at least ok both at very well-established clubs (Juventus and Real Sociedad). I’d like to throw Jesper Karlsson [22 year old forward] into the mix as well. It might seem a bit odd since he isn’t a national team player yet, but he has some very nice technical abilities and has raised more than one eyebrow in AZ so far!

Q. Looking at Sweden’s long international history, what would you say has been the best game, result or performance for the national team in your opinion?

It’s the bronze medal in the 1994 World Cup. Without a doubt. Oh, what a magical summer that was!

Q. Likewise, is there a performance or result which is regarded as the team’s lowest point?

Failing to qualify for a tournament is always a huge disappointment, but if we look at actual tournament performances I must say the Euro 2000 last place group finish. Three awful performances led to one point in a game against Turkey that was voted ”The most boring game in the tournament”. One of the few times I’ve been embarrassed to be Swedish!

Q. What are the best and worst things about being a fan of the Swedish national team?

The best is that the team has a wide national support, which is cool! The bad is the lack of success! Frustrating to say the least!

Q. Have the fans adopted some kind of unofficial anthem to sing along to before/during/after matches?

Mera Mål‘, by Swedish artist Markoolio! There’s a really funny video of him eating really spicy chili on YouTube as well!

Q. Do you have a favourite or iconic shirt from the whole time of the national team?

The 3 striped ’94 shirt made by Adidas. Without a shadow of a doubt!

Q. Finally, what are your hopes for the future of the Swedish national team?

I’m hoping for another medal before I die. Unrealistic, but a man is allowed to dream, right!?

A massive tack så mycket to Mikaelinho for answering our questions on the Blågult. Remember you can find their website, Twitch and YouTube channels, and social media accounts in the links at the top of the blogpage.

If you have any comments, suggestions, reactions, or even your own answers to the above questions, please write them in the comments box below. Likewise, you can either email us at the94thmin@gmail.com or send a message at @The94thMin on Twitter.

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