Sunday, January 7, 2018

What if Sweden World Cup 1950

Sweden in WC 1950
Please also see my All-Time World Cup Team Index.
United Kingdom 1970
United Kingdom 1982
France 1994
Yugoslavia 1994
USA 2010
Holland 2002
England 1974
What if Argentina sent this team to Sweden 1958

Sweden won the Gold Medal at the Summer Olympics of 1948 in London.  The tournament was small, but a victory was still a victory.  It was the first major football tournament since the end of the War.  Six Swedish players turned professional after the Olympics. In the 1950's, the Swedish football association did not allow any professional footballers to play for the national team. Consequently, Sweden only fielded amateur players during the World Cup Finals in 1950.  Despite of that, Sweden managed to finish third and the best European team in the tournament.  

So what if Sweden fielded professional footballers in the WC Finals of 1950? That would have put "Gre-No-Li" in their prime with Lennart Skoglund, Gunnar Andersson and the two remaining Nordahl brothers.
Olympic Gold Medal 1948

Team
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. 
Kalle Svensson 
GK: Tore Svensson
Born in 1927, Tore Svensson started playing football at Falkenberg's FF before he moved to IF Elfsborg in 1949. In 1951, he moved to Malmö FF, where he became the main keeper. He stayed there until 1961. For Sweden, he went to both World Cup Finals in 1950 and 1958, and the 1952 Summer Olympics.

GK: Torsten Lindberg 
Torsten Lindberg played club football with Husqvarna IF, IK Tord, Örgryte IS and IFK Norrköping. For Sweden, he won a Gold Medal at the 1948 Summer Olympics as the starting keeper.  However, he served as backup keeper at the World Cup Finals in 1950, where Sweden finished third. He played 19 times for Sweden between 1947 and 1951.

RB/LB: Arne Månsson
Born in 1925, Arne Månsson made his debut with Malmö FF in 1944, where he spent his entire career. He became a regular starter in 1948. He won two league titles with them. Between 1949 and 1951, the club went 49 matches without losing a single match. He retired in 1955.  For Sweden, he went to the World Cup Finals in 1950.

CB/CM: Bertil Nordahl  (did not go the WC 1950 Finals)
Bertil was the eldest of the Nordahl brothers.  He played for Degerfors IF before the Summer Olympics in 1948 where Sweden won the gold medal. After the Olympics, he joined Atalanta in Italy, where he was banned from playing for the Swedish national team because Sweden did not select professional footballers. He had 15 caps for Sweden between 1945 and 1948.

CB: Lennart Samuelsson
Between 1950 and 1955,  Lennart Samuelsson capped 36 times with Sweden. He went to the1950 FIFA World Cup, where Sweden came third and also won a bronze medal at the 1952 Summer Olympics. Domestically he played for Elfsborg and in 1951 he played with the French club Nice. His career was cut short due to a broken leg.

CB: Gunnar Johansson
In 1949, Gunnar Johansson made one of the fastest career advancement in Swedish football's history. At the age of 24, he went from Division V team Inlands IF to Gais.  He became a part of Sweden's 1950 World Cup team, where Sweden finished third .  After the WC Finals, he joined Marseille in France as a professional player.  It was over the course of a year.

LB: Erik Nilsson (captain)
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.
Erik Nilsson 
LB: Ivan Bodin
Born in 1923, Ivan Bodin started with Mälarhöjdens IK.  He went to AIK in 1948 and debuted for this club as the centre forward.  Bodin played six seasons in AIK, but mostly as defense player. He went to the World Cup Finals in 1950, without playing a single match.  He was only capped once by Sweden.  He also played bandy for AIK.

CM: Sune Andersson 
He was a versatile midfielder, who would take any position: left, right or center. He played 28 times for the Swedish national team, scoring four goals, and won a gold medal at the 1948 Summer Olympics and a bronze at the 1950 FIFA World Cup. His only domestic title was the 1949 Swedish Cup with Solna. His performance at the 1950 World Cup earned him a transfer to A.S. Roma in Serie A, where he played for two seasons and scored 12 goals. 

CM: Knut Nordahl
Along with his brothers Bertil and Gunnar Nordahl, he helped Sweden to win the Gold Medal at the 1948 Summer Olympics. While his brothers went to Italy after the Olympics and turned professional, he stayed with IFK Norrköping in Sweden.  After the 1950 World Cup Finals,  he joined AS Roma.  He was capped 26 times for the Sweden national football team between 1945 and 1950. He was a key player at the 1950 World Cup Finals in Brazil.

LM/CM: Ingvar Gärd
From 1941 to 1950,  Ingvar Gärd played for Malmö FF, usually as the left half. After the World Cup Finals in 1950, he joined Sampdoria in Italy as a professional.  However, he returned home after a season, playing only 20 games.  He was forced to retire after his return due to losing his amateur status for his professional spell in Italy.

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 also played in the 1958 World Cup Finals, where they finished 2nd.
Lennart Skoglund

RW/FW/CM: Karl-Erik Palmér
Palmer played with Malmö FF, and in Italy for Legnano and Juventus.  He was capped 14 times for Sweden between 1949 and 9152.  He attended the World Cup Finals in 1950, where he was the top scorer for Sweden.  His forward line was known as "Pal-Jep-Sko"(Palmer, Jeppson, Skoglund) as a tribute  to "Gre-No-Li" of the 1948 team.  In 1951, he turned professional by going to play in Italy.

FW: Gunnar Gren  (did not go the WC 1950 Finals)
Gunnar Gren was part of the famous "Gre-No-Li" trio of forwards at AC 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 after Sweden recalled its professional footballers. He is considered one of the greatest footballers for both Sweden and AC Milan. At the club level, he also played for IFK Gothenburg, AC Fiorentina, Genoa, and  Örgryte IS.  
Gunnar Gren  
FW: Hasse Jeppson
Jeppson began his career with Djurgårdens IF, transferring to Charlton Athletic.  He was the second Swedish player to join an English team, after Dan Ekner at Portsmouth. In 1951, he went to Italy, where he played for Atalanta, Napoli and Torino. In 1952 he was sold to Napoli for 105 million lira, a new world record transfer-fee at the time. Capped 12 times. He went to the WC Finals in 1950.

AM: Nils Liedholm  (did not go the WC 1950 Finals)
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. 
Nils Liedholm
ST/FW: Bror Mellberg
At home, Bror Mellberg played with Karlstad BIK  and AIK.  After a successful World Cup Finals in 1950, he joined Genoa in Italy. After two seasons playing in Italy, he moved to France playing with Toulouse FC, Paris Red Stars and FC Sochaux.  He was also a part of Sweden's World Cup team in 1958.

ST: Gunnar Andersson 
Gunnar Andersson started his career in Sweden, before playing for Danish side Kjøbenhavns Boldklub before being transferred to Olympique de Marseille in 1950.  With l'OM,  he was also Division 1 top goalscorer in 1951–1952 and 1952–1953 and runner-up in the Coupe de France 1953–1954. He was their all-time leading scorer. He also played for other French teams such as FC Girondins de Bordeaux and AS Aix.

CF: Henry Carlsson (Atletico Madrid)(did not go the WC 1950 Finals)
In 1939, Henry Carlsson made his debut with AIK.  After winning the Olympic Gold medal in 1948, he moved to play for Stade Français in France as an amateur. In 1949, he started his professional career with Atletico Madrid at the age of 32, winning two league titles in Spain.  At Madrid, he played under Helenio Herrera alongside Larbi Benbarek. For Sweden, he was capped 26 times between 1941 and 1949.
Henry Carlsson 

ST: Stig Sundqvist
Stig Sundqvist played 11 games for the Swedish national team and scored 3 goals in the 1950 FIFA World Cup, helping Sweden to a third-place finish and their first ever world cup medal. After the World Cup he left Swedish side IFK Norrköping for the Italian club A.S. Roma, where he remained until 1953.  During his active days he was known by the nickname "Vittjärv", after the Swedish village where he grew up.

ST: Gunnar Nordahl (AC Milan) (did not go the WC 1950 Finals)
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 World Cup in 1950.  He also played two years with Roma before retiring.  His brother Bertil and Knut also played for Sweden.
Gunnar Nordahl 

Squad Explanation
-- I do not know every single Swedish professional footballers in 1950.  I probably miss a few players.  
-- Bertil Nordahl, Gunnar Gren, Nils Liedholm, Henry Carlsson and Gunnar Nordahl turned professional after the 1949 Olympics.  They did not go to the real WC Finals in 1950.  I took all five of them.  
-- In the WC Finals, Sweden used the same 9 players frequently: Kalle Svensson, Erik Nilsson, Lennart Samuelsson, Ingvar Gärd, Sune Andersson, Knut Nordahl, Hasse Jeppson, Lennart Skoglund, Stig Sundqvist and Karl-Erik Palmer.  I took all 10 of them.  The 5 professions + 10 starters = 15.
-- Sweden only took five defenders to Brazil.  Erik Nilsson and Lennart Samuelsson were mentioned above. The other three defenders were Arne Månsson, Gunnar Johansson and Ivan Bodin.  I took the three remaining defenders and two backup keepers. 15+3 defenders+2 backup keepers = 20.
-- Gunnar Andersson left Sweden before the 1948 Olympics and turned pro before ever playing for Sweden.  He had a very successful career in France. Later he had one cap for the French B team.  He is the all-time leading scorer for Marseille. He became my 21st player.
--  The last spot was between Stellan Nilsson, Bror Mellberg, Olle Åhlund, Kurt Svensson, Egon Jönsson, Ingvar Rydell and Börje Tapper. I took Bror Mellberg because he played the most in Brazil.
-- Kurt Hamrin, Orvar Bergmark and Åke Johansson had not played for the national team.  Bergmark was only 19 years old and Hamrin was 15 in 1950. 
-- Kjell Rosén was on the 1948 Olympic team, but did not go to the WC in 1950.  However, he earned a move to Torino in 1950 at the end of the Swedish season, I believed.  I also discovered that he did not play much that season for Malmo. I suspected that he was injured. So I did not select him.
-- Birger Rosengren was the captain of the 1948 Olympic team, but he retired before the WC Finals in 1950.
-- Other Swedish professional players in 1950 included Pär Bengtsson, Åke Hjalmarsson, Ivar Eidefjäll and Dan Ekner.  

Formation
WM Formation
The starting lineup is similar to the 1948 Olympic Gold Medal winning team.  Skoglund and Sune Andersson were on the Olympic team.

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