2018 FIFA World Cup Team Preview: Analysing Sweden’s Chances at the Tournament

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Now the frenzied media circus focused on whether LA Galaxy star attraction Zlatan Ibrahimović will be at the World Cup with Sweden (he won’t, I’m afraid) has died down, the national team can finally concentrate of the tournament itself.

Blågult haven’t qualified for the World Cup since 2006, and will be champing at the bit to make a mark on the grand stage this summer. Sweden actually have a pretty solid record to boot, having finished third on two occasions, and falling at the final hurdle against Brazil in 1958. 

Fans of the Nordic nation will be eager to their side return to glory again in Russia this summer, as Janne Anderssen’s side attempt to deliver a sterling showing despite the odds being squarely against them.

How They Qualified


Dramatically, that’s how. After finishing second in their World Cup Qualification group, in a tough group alongside the likes of France, the Netherlands, and Bulgaria, Sweden then faced the unenviable of taking on four time World Cup winners in the playoff.

The Swedes clinched a 1-0 win during the first leg in Solna, before putting in the defensive performance of a lifetime to seal a famous 0-0 in the cavernous San Siro to deservedly secure their place in this summer’s finals.

Group Stage Games

With Italy miraculously dispatched, one would have hoped the footballing gods would have gifted Sweden a suitably rewarding group….Nope. They’ve only gone and drawn the world champions themselves: Germany.

Along with Joachim Löw’s side, Sweden (ranked 23rd in the world) will also have to face Mexico (15th), and the rather more lowly South Korea (61st).

Mexico haven’t failed to get out of the group since 1978, which suggests they could be strong rivals for Sweden to finish in second place. 

In an ideal scenario, Sweden begin their campaign with a win against South Korea, before digging (very) deep for a draw against Germany, which should allow them to progress with another point against Mexico in their final group game.

Possible Route to the Final

Sweden v Denmark - International Friendly

Let’s be honest here, topping the group isn’t something that’s likely to happen, with Germany near certain to power their way to the top of the table. A second placed finish is what Sweden need to aim for, and picking up four points should be the minimum tally to achieve this.

Should Sweden escape the group, a second round clash will most likely see them face the hot favourites Brazil, a mighty task indeed. If the South American’s fail to top the group, Serbia or Costa Rica could offer a slightly less tricky affair.

Into the quarter-finals, Sweden would likely face one of England, Belgium, Poland or Colombia, with the a potential semi with France or Portugal awaiting.

The good news is that the luck of the draw means Sweden will probably avoid Spain or Argentina before the final.


While it may not be a side brimming with the kind of quality present in the squad’s on many of their contemporaries, their are some real gems in Janne Anderssen’s team. RB Leipzig’s Emile Forsberg will be expertly pulling the strings in midfield, while Manchester United’s Victor Lindelöf and Al Ain’s Marcus Berg offer some real quality elsewhere on the field.

Other notable mentions are captain Andreas Granqvist – a highly experienced defender who plays his domestic football for Russian side Krasnodar, and Swansea City duo Martin Olson and Kristoffer Nordfeldt.

Goalkeepers:  Robin Olsen (Køpenheaven), Karl-Johan Johnsson (Guingamp), Kristoffer Nordfeldt (Swansea City),  

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

Midfielders: Sebastian Larsson (Hull City), Albin Ekdal (Hamburger), 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 (Alavés), Ola Toivonen (Toulouse), Isaac Kiese Thelin (Waasland-Beveren)

Predicted Lineup

(4-4-2) Olsen, Krafth, Lindelöf, Granqvist, Martin, Durmaz, Hiljemark, Ekdal, Forsberg, Marcus Berg, Ola Toivonen.


While Sweden find themselves in a tricky group, their defensive resilience and their impressive record of progressing past the group stage in recent history.

However, a potential second round clash against Brazil will surely be the end of the road for Anderssen’s men, with a luxury football displayed by Canarinha likely to be too much for them to handle.

Expectations in Sweden will be understandably low for this tournament, given that they haven’t qualified since 2006, but they have more than enough in the locker to pick up a couple of shock results this summer.

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