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Strength both at home and away
Sweden overcame a disappointing UEFA European Championship in 2000 by qualifying for the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan without losing a single game. The team was given a helping hand by drawing a group devoid of any of Europe's traditional powerhouses, and the players took advantage by winning sailing through the group.
The majority of the current Sweden squad play outside the country, although possible starters from the Swedish Allsvenskan league are Christoffer Andersson (Helsingborgs IF), Håkan Mild and Pontus Kåmark (IFK Gothenburg) and Teddy Lucic (AIK Solna).
The two biggest names indisputable stars of the line-up, however, in the side are forward Henrik Larsson and defender Patrik Andersson. Glasgow Celtic striker Larsson is one of the world's best outright scorers marksmen and won last year's "Golden Boot" as Europe's top scorer. Captain Patrik Andersson won the UEFA Champions League with Bayern Munich in 2001 before moving to Barcelona last summer. Any chance the country has of doing well in the FIFA World Cup will largely depend on theose two players.
The team's dual twin coaches, Tommy Söderberg and Lars Lagerbäck, kept a settled squad throughout the campaign, but the emergence of Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the latter stages could see him become the new golden boy of Swedish football. The 19 year-old left Malmö FF in 2001 for Dutch giants Ajax Amsterdam, becoming the most expensive Swedish footballer in history.
The team's strength has been the defence. Goalkeeper Magnus Hedman let in only three goals in the 10-game qualifying campaign, while up front, Larsson has formed a productive partnership with SC Heerenveen's Marcus Allbäck.
Sweden's team makes up for a slight lack of creativity with an emphasis on organization, hard work, and team play, and they have proved to be a very hard side to beat.
Significant past players:
Thomas Brolin, Thomas Ravelli, Gunnar Gren, Nils Liedholm, Lennart Skoglund
-- 4th 1938 FIFA World Cup France
-- Final Group 1950 World Cup Brazil
-- 2nd 1958 FIFA World Cup Sweden
-- 3rd 1994 FIFA World Cup USA
-- Semi-final UEFA European Championship Sweden 1992
-- Champion Olympic Games 1948
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