Saturday, November 27, 2010

For Sweden it was 6th participation in World Cup finals, making them one of the most consistent teams since 1930. But there was little fuss over the Scandinavians – as ever, they were not among the favourites and not among the outsiders. A really modest team, reliable, without internal scandals, yet, without flashy news either. It was noticed that Sweden tried to adjust to total football, but more generally they were thought followers of the English brand of football – straightforward attacks, with long crosses from the wings. This view was mostly due to Ralf Edstrom, the tall and very mobile centreforward, who was considered the best in the world when it came to duels high in the air and headers. As a whole, Sweden depended on lethal attack with Conny Torstensson on the right wing, Roland Sandberg on the left, and predatory Edstrom in front. Torstensson was also flexible player, often switching to midfield position, if there was a need of extra man. The defense was the second best line of the team, led by experienced Bjorn Nordqvist. Between the goalposts Ronnie Hellstrom was rapidly his name well known around Europe, and although still 25 years old, this was his second World Cup. Midfield was seen as the weakest line – reliable, but without capable, imaginative playmaker. Because of that, combined with relatively oldish defense, Sweden was seen as predictable and a bit slow team. One thing nobody doubted: their spirit. No matter what kind of team they had, the Swedes always played well at World Cup finals – they may never have been favourites, but they never disapointed anybody.
The tradition of quieteness around the team continued during the preparatory months before the finals. The first eleven was already established during the qualification rounds before 1974. Foreign based players joined the national team without fuss – there were no scandals, no refusals, no arguments over money. No news really. The team was estimated with a slightly better chance than Uruguay and Bulgaria for reaching second place in Group 3 – that was all.
There was one news, however: Bjorn Nordqvist was one of the very few back then players with 100 or more games for the national team in the world. And he was the only player with 100 caps to play at 1974 World Cup. Ironically, the record worked against Sweden: observers considered Swedish defense even slower, because a player with so many caps must be really old… and, therefore, hardly mobile. Nordqvist was only 32 years old.
Unlike most national teams, the Swedish squad was not based on 2-3 strong clubs – there were no such in Sweden. Players from 15 different clubs, from four different countries, made the selection. They trained quitely, arrived quitely in West Germany, and made no bombastic statements. This was not a team with huge ego.
Head coach: Georg Ericson
No. Pos.Player DoB/Age Caps Club

1GK Ronnie Hellström 21 February 1949 (aged 25)Hammarby
2DF Jan Olsson 30 March 1942 (aged 32) Åtvidaberg
3 DF Kent Karlsson 25 November 1945 (aged 28) Åtvidaberg
4 DF Björn Nordqvist 6 October 1942 (aged 31) PSV Eindhoven
5 DF Björn Andersson 20 July 1951 (aged 22) Östers
6 MF Ove Grahn 9 May 1943 (aged 31) Grasshoppers
7 MF Bo Larsson 5 May 1944 (aged 30) Malmö
8 MF Conny Torstensson 28 August 1949 (aged 24) Bayern München
9 FW Ove Kindvall 16 May 1943 (aged 31) IFK Norrköping
10 FW Ralf Edström 7 October 1952 (aged 21) PSV Eindhoven
11 FW Roland Sandberg 16 December 1946 (aged 27) Kaiserslautern
12 GK Sven-Gunnar Larsson 10 May 1940 (aged 34) Örebro
13 DF Roland Grip 1 January 1941 (aged 33) AIK
14 DF Staffan Tapper 10 July 1948 (aged 25) Malmö
15 MF Benno Magnusson 4 February 1953 (aged 21) Kaiserslautern
16 MF Inge Ejderstedt 24 December 1946 (aged 27) Östers
17 GK Göran Hagberg 8 November 1947 (aged 26) Östers
18 DF Jörgen Augustsson 28 October 1952 (aged 21) Åtvidaberg
19 MF Claes Cronqvist 15 October 1944 (aged 29) Djurgården
20 MF Sven Lindman 19 April 1942 (aged 32) Djurgården
21 MF Örjan Persson 27 August 1942 (aged 31) Örgryte
22 MF Thomas Ahlström 17 July 1952 (aged 21) Elfsborg
Modest guys… Top, left to right: Roland Sandberg, Svensson, Staffan Tapper, Ralf Edstrom, Conny Torstensson, Bo Larsson.
Bottom: Jan Olsson, Bjorn Nordqvist, Ronnie Hellstrom, Kent Karlsson, Bjorn Andersson.
Svensson did not make the final selection; the others did. A total of 6 foreign based players were in the team – one of the highest numbers at this World Cup. Another three or four players did play abroad as well, of which Ove Kindvall was perhaps the most famous: he won the 1970 European Champions Cup with Feyenoord (Rotterdam). Plenty of experinece, but no high expectations.