Thursday, December 11, 2014

Sweden Greatest All-time 23 member team

Sweden 1958
Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index
Sweden 1950

Sweden reached the semifinal of the 1938 World Cup Finals.  However, the result was credited with an easy route to the semifinal after the withdrawal of Austria.  Instead, football in Sweden first gained recognition at the 1948 Olympic Games when they won the Gold Medal. Star players such as Gunnar Gren, Nils Liedholm and Gunnar Nordahl were lured away by Italy's Serie A.  The trio would became known as the "Gre-No-Li" at AC Milan.  Because Sweden did not select professional footballers for their national team, the trio would miss the 1950 WC Finals.  Sweden still finished third, despite only using amateur players.  

In 1958, Sweden as the host nation of the World Cup Finals decided to bring back the professional players. Lennart Skoglund, Gunnar Gren, Nils Liedholm and Kurt Hamrin returned to the national team.  They finished second behind Brazil, their best performance at the World Cup Finals.  

After 1958, Sweden diminished.  They qualified for the WC Finals in 1970, 1974, 1978 and 1990, but did nothing of note.  They hosted the Euro 1992, where they reached the semifinal.  Then, Sweden made a run at the 1994 World Cup Finals in United States. Kennet Andersson, Martin Dahlin and Tomas Brolin formed a great offense as Sweden finished 3rd.  After 1994, Sweden qualified for big tournaments regularly, but only reached the quarterfinal of Euro 2004.
Sweden 1994
GK: Ronnie Hellstrom
Ronnie Hellstrom is considered one of the greatest keepers in the 1970's.  He started his career in Hammarby IF. He joined FC Kaiserslautern in 1974 and left in 1984. For the national team,  he played in the World Cup Finals in 1970, 1974 and 1978. In total, he received 77 caps. He won the Golden ball (Guldbollen) twice, in 1971 and 1978. 

GK: Thomas Ravelli
Thomas Ravelli played in the 1990 and 1994 World Cup Finals and, the European Champioship of 1992.  Sweden reached the semifinal in 1992  as the host and finished third in World Cup Finals. He gained a total of 143 caps and was the most-capped player for the Sweden national team for several years, At the club level he played for Östers IF , IFK Göteborg and Tampa Bay Mutiny(USA).

GK: Kalle Svensson 
Kalle Svensson was capped 73 times between 1949 and 1958.  He played in four big tournaments: 1950 and 1958 WC Finals and 1948 and 1952 Summer Olympics, finishing in the top 3 in all of them.  His 349 matches in the highest league is the third most for a goalkeeper in Allsvenskan. He also has got the less impressive record of being the goalkeeper who has conceded the highest number of goals in Allsvenskan, a total of 575. 

RB: Orvar Bergmark 
Orvar Bergmark is one of the greatest rightback ever produced in Europe. From 1951 to 1965, he was capped 94 times. He was a member of the 1958 WC team.  He played for Örebro SK and also played for A.S. Roma.  He was Sweden's Player of the Year in 1958.  He was also an international bandy player, and won silver medals at that sport’s World Cup also. 

SW/RB: Bengt Gustavsson
Bengt Gustavsson was capped 57 times. He was a member of the 1958 WC team.   He won the Guldbollen(Golden Ball) award in 1953 as Sweden's Player of the Year.   In 1947, he joined IFK Norrköping as a replacement for Gunnar Nordahl who left for Italy, but he was quickly moved to play in defence. He played for Atalanta between 1956 and 1961.

CB: Bjorn Nordqvist
Bjorn Nordqvist was capped 115 times by Sweden, which was the world record at one point.  He played in 1970, 1974 and 1978 WC Finals.  On club level, Nordqvist became Swedish league champion with IFK Norrköping as well as Dutch league and cup champion with PSV Eindhoven. He also played in the USA with Minnesota Kicks. He was awarded Guldbollen in 1968 and has been inducted to the Hall of Fame of Swedish football.  He also represented Sweden in ice hockey and bandy.
Bjorn Nordqvist
CB: Patrik Andersson
Patrik Andersson was capped 96 times for Sweden, playing in the 1994 and 2002 World Cup Finals, the 1992 and 2000 European Championship. He is known for his 8 seasons in the Bundesliga.  He won a Champions' League title with Bayern Munich in 2001. He also played for Blackburn Rovers, Borussia Mönchengladbach and Barcelona.

CB: Glenn Hysen
Glenn Hysen came from a football family.  His grandfather, father and three sons played football.   He was a top defender for Sweden in the 1980's.  At the international level, he earned 68 caps.  He captained Sweden at 1990 World Cup Finals in Italy. For club football, He played with IFK Göteborg and PSV Eindhoven before making a name with Fiorentina and Liverpool.

CB: Olof Mellberg
Olof Mellberg is best known for playing 7 seasons at Aston Villa as well as spells with Italian side Juventus and Greek side Olympiacos.  He was a former captain with the Swedish national team, earning 117 caps.  He played in both 2002 and 2006 World Cup Finals as well as the Euro 2000, Euro 2004, Euro 2008 and Euro 2012. He won the Guldbollen as Sweden's Football of the Year in 2003.  He had a feud with Fredrik Ljungberg while both played for Sweden.
Olof Mellberg
CB: Ake Johansson
Ake Johansson had 53 caps for Sweden.  He was a member of the 1958 World Cup team.  He spent his entire career with IFK Norrköping.  With IFK Norrköping he owns the club record with 321 appearances.  He became Swedish champion with his club 6 times (1952, 1956, 1957, 1960, 1962 and 1963)He was Sweden's Player of the Year in 1957.  He also represented Sweden once in hockey.

LB: Erik Nilsson
Erik Nilsson was a member of Sweden World Cup team in 1938, where they finished 4th.  He would win the Olympic Gold medal in 1948.  He also played in the World Cup in 1950, where he was on the All-tournament team.  In 1950, Nilsson was awarded the Guldbollen as the year's best Swedish football player. In 2003, he was inducted into the SFS Hall Of Fame. He spent his entire career with Malmo.

CM: Bo Larsson
Bo Larsson was Sweden Player of the Year in 1965 and 1973.  He was the first player to win the award twice. He spent most of his career with Malmo at the club level.  He also spent three seasons as a top player with Vfb Stuttgart.   He was awarded "Athlete of the Year" in 1969 by the city of Stuttgart.  In total he got 70 caps, scoring 17 times, and played at the 1970 FIFA World Cup, 1974 FIFA World Cup and 1978 FIFA World Cup.
Bo Larsson
DM: Jonas Thern
Jonas Thern had 75 caps. He captained the Sweden that finished third at the 1994 World Cup. He also went to Italia 1990.  Thern's playing career took him from Malmö FF in Sweden to FC Zürich in Switzerland and further in Europe to Benfica in Portugal, Napoli and Roma in Italy and finally Rangers in Scotland where he finished his career.  He was a legend at Benfica. 

RW: Kurt Hamrin
Kurt Hamrin is considered one of the greatest wingers in the history of the game.  He played in Italy from 1956 to 1971.  His best years were spent at Fiorentina, where he was considered to be one of their greatest players.  He also won an European Cup with AC Milan in 1968.  Hamrin played 32 times for Sweden between 1953 and 1965.  He was a star player as Sweden reached the Final of the World Cup Finals in 1958.
Kurt Hamrin
RW/LW: Fredrik Ljungberg
Fredrik Ljungberg was remembered for his 9 seasons with Arsenal under Arsène Wenger, where he won two Preimer League titles and three FA Cups.  After Arsenal, he had short spells at a number of clubs in England, Scotland, the United States, Japan and India.He was capped 75 times and was at one point, the captain of Sweden.  He played in the WC Finals of 2002 and 2006.  He was also known for his career as a model. 

LW: Lennart Skoglund
Lennart Skoglund is regarded as one of Sweden's greatest players.  He played in Italy from 1950 to 1963.  His best stint was probably with Inter Milan.  He also played for  Hammarby IF, Sampdoria and Palermo.  He only had 11 caps because of Sweden's ban on using professional players. He was a star at the World Cup Finals in 1950, where Sweden finished 3rd behind Uruguay and Brazil.  He was brought back into the national team for the 1958 World Cup Finals, where they finished 2nd.
Lennart Skoglund
FW: Henrik Larsson 
Henrik Larsson was the most important player of his generation.  He first amde a name as a young player at the World Cup Finals in 1994.  He went on to play in the World Cup Finals in 2002 and 2006, earning 106 caps.  He is also known for his 7 seasons with Celtics, where he was considered to be the best player playing in Scotland at the time.   With Celtics,  he won the European Golden Shoe.He also helped the team reach the 2003 UEFA Cup Final against Porto.

FW: Gunnar Gren
Gunnar Gren was part of the famous "Gre-No-Li" trio of forwards at A.C. Milan and the Swedish national team during the 1950's.  He won a Gold Medal at the 1948 Olympics and helped Sweden to finish second at the World Cup finals in 1958. He is considered one of the greatest footballers for both Sweden and AC Milan. In Sweden, he played for IFK Gothenburg, AC Fiorentina, Genoa, and  Örgryte IS.

AM: Tomas Brolin
Tomas Brolin was a star player in the early 1990's, where he helped Sweden to finish 3rd at the1994 World Cup in the US and reached semi-final in Europran Championship in 1992 hosted by Sweden.  He played for Parma between 1990 and 1995, a period considered to be a Golden era for the club.  After an injury in 1995, he never regained form and bounced around different clubs before retiring at the age of 31.  He only had 47 caps.
Tomas Brolin
AM: Nils Liedholm 
In Italy, Nils Liedholm was known as  Il Barone (The Baron).  He is probably one of both Sweden and AC Milan's greatest players.  He played for AC Milan between 1949 and 1961. Liedholm also won the Latin Cup in 1951 and 1956 and was captain of Milan in the 1958 European Cup Final against Real Madrid, losing 2–3 (after extra time). He was part of the famous "Gre-No-Li" line for both club and country.  He won a Gold Medal at the 1948 Olympics and helped Sweden to finish second at the World Cup Finals in 1958. 
Lennart Skoglund, Nils Liedholn and Kurt Hamrin
ST: Sven Rydell
Sven Rydell was at one point Sweden's all-time leading scorer.  He held the record from 1932 to 2014. He scored 49 goals in only 43 matches for the Swedish national team.  His only appearance at the world stage came in the 1924 Summer Olympics, at which Sweden won a bronze medal. On the club level, Rydell played for Örgryte IS, Redbergslids IK, and Holmens IS.

ST: Gunnar Nordahl
Gunnar Nordahl is probably one of both Sweden and AC Milan's greatest players.  He played with Gunnar Gren and Nils Liedholm to form the renowned Gre-No-Li line at AC Milan.  He was Serie A top scorer 5 times.  He is the all-time leading scorer at Milan.  He won the Gold Medal at the 1948 Olympics, but was not selected for the WC in 1950.  He played two years with Roma before retiring.  His brother Bertil and Knut also played for Sweden.

ST: Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Zlatan Ibrahimovic was born in  Sweden of Bosnian-Croat origin.  He won Sweden Player of the Year 11 times.  He was the Serie A Player of the Year for 5 times.   He played with Malmo, Ajax, Juventus, Inter Milan, Barcelona, AC Milan, Paris St.Germain and now, Manchester United.  He is currently the second-most decorated active footballer in the world, having won 32 trophies in his career. At the time of writing, he has over 116 caps.  He is the all-time leading scorer for Sweden.  
Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Honorable Mention
Anders Limpar, Erik Nilsson, Bjorn Nordqvist, Glenn Strömberg, Roland Nilsson, Ove Kindvall, Martin Dahlin, Kennet Andersson, Henry Carlsson, Birger Rosengren, Gunnar Andersson, Stefan Schwarz, Karl-Erik Palmér, Hasse Jeppson, Knut Nordahl,  Bertil Nordahl.

Squad Explanation
-- Kalle Svensson, Ovar Bergmark, Kurt Hamrin, Nils Liedholm, Bengt Gustavsson, Lennart Skoglund, Åke Johansson and Gunnar Gren were members of Sweden's 1958 World Cup team, where they reached the Final as the host. Sweden recalled professional footballers to play in the WC Finals, where Sweden previously refused to select.  Five Italian-based footballers were on the team. Gren, however, had returned to play at home by that point.
-- However, the Gre-No-Li line was agining in 1958.   Liedholm 35 years, who became the oldest player ever to score in the Final.  Pele at 17 years old was the youngest ever scorer.  Gunnar Gren was 37.  Gunnar Nordahl was not on the team.
-- Sweden finished third at the 1994 World Cup Finals, but only Thomas Ravelli, Tomas Brolin, Jonas Thern, Henrick Larsson and Patrik Andersson from that team made my all-time team.  Jonas Thern was their captain.
-- Ovar Bergmark is considered one of Europe's greatest fullback.
-- Patrik Andersson, Glenn Hysen and Olof Mellberg had great club careers playig in Europe.
-- Sweden has great attackers. Kennet Andersson and Martin Dahlin could not make the team, despite having great World Cup Finals in 1994. 
-- Ronnie Hellstrom was widely considered to be Sweden's greatest keeper. Thomas Ravelli was well-known for his performanxce at the USA 1994.
-- Tomas Brolin was probably the biggest surprise on the team.  His career was cut short becuase injuries, but I gave him a lot of credits for his performance with both Sweden and Parma. 
-- Kurt Hamrin is often listed as one of Fiorentina's greatest foreign players after Gabriel Batistuata and Julinho.
-- Gunnar Andersson never played for Sweden because he turned professional in an era, where Sweden did not select professional players.  His club career in France was stunning.  However, I felt that he was not enough to get him a spot on the team. I counted against him for never playing for Sweden. He earned an honourable mention.
-- The "Pal-Jep-Sko"(Palmer, Jeppson, Skoglund) line got Sweden to third place at the World Cup Finals in 1950.  Skoglund is on this team while Palmer and Jeppson made honourable mention. Jeppson was at point the most expensive player in the world.
-- Of course, all three members of "Gre-No-Li" line made the team. The line consisted of  Gunnar Gren, Gunnar Nordahl and Nils Liedholm. who were teammates at AC Milan and Sweden.  They led Sweden to Olympic gold at the 1948 Olympic tournament in London.  The line is among the greatest ever for AC Milan.
-- Gunnar Nordahl's two brothers Knut and Bertil also made honorable mention.  All three of them played in the 1948 Olynpics. Gunnar and Bertil went to play in Italy after the Games, but Knut went onward to the 1950 World Cup Finals,  where Sweden placed third.
-- Gunnar Andersson never played for Sweden.  He went straight to play professional football in France, where Sweden refused to select professional players before the late 1950's.  He is the all-time leading for Olympique de Marseille. 
-- I also took younger players such as Henrik Larsson, Fredrik Ljungberg, Patrik Andersson, Olof Mellberg and Glenn Hysen. Of course, Zlatan Ibrahimovic.  They all have awesome club careers.
-- Fredrik Ljungberg was remembered for his 9 seasons with Arsenal under Arsène Wenger while Henrick Larsson was the best player in the Scottish league.  Anders Limpar played in an era where Arsenal and the English league was less successful in Europe.
-- Sven Rydell was at one point Sweden's all-time leading scorer.  He held the record from 1932 to 2014.
-- Zlatab Ibrahimovic won the Guldbollen 11 times: 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016.

Starting lineup
Formation 4-1-3-2 
This is a very offensive formation. In my opinion,  Zlatan Ibrahimovic has earned a place in the starting line ahead of Gunnar Gren.

1 comment:

  1. I think Gustaffson should start ahead of Johansson in central defence. They won a similar number of caps, but Bengt was a pro and so lost several caps when he was a pro. Bottom line, when Sweden recalled their pros for the WC in 58, Gustaffson started and Johansson went to the bench.