Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Group 6 – predictable and invisible. Sweden, Norway, and Switzerland. Two outsiders and always adorable Sweden, which nobody notices before World Cup finals. Modest team with few recognizable stars, never trend setter, but usually quick to adapt the fresh developments of the game. As a rule of thumb, Sweden is an enigma during preliminary campaigns, then surprises everyone with players, who make their names at the World Cup finals. One of the rare countries practically never suffering from inevitable change of generations. As ever, no attention was paid to the group stage – Sweden was the favourite, expected to qualify. Since Norway was in the group, it was to be the relatively tough challenge for the Swedes – Norway was clear outsider, but local derbies have their own logic. Similar styles plus pride nullify difference of class. And that was precisely the case in the group: Sweden won three matches and lost against Norway in Oslo – 1-2. It did not matter by the time of the match, for Sweden already qualified – 6 points from 3 matches, when the opposition had only 2 points. Switzerland had none. The final table was perfect:

1.SWEDEN 4 3 0 1 7- 4 6

2.Norway 4 2 0 2 3- 4 4

3.Switzerland 4 1 0 3 3- 5 2
It may have been an easy group, but Sweden normally reached the World Cup finals. As ever, the squad was almost unknown to the world, but followed the usual pattern – few very well known players: Torstensson, Hellstrom, and seemingly eternal captain Nordqvist. Edstrom is missing here, but he was part of the team too. Perhaps one young player, attracting European interest as potential big star – Linderoth. The rest – modest players stationed in various European clubs (Wendt, for instance) and bunch of domestic players either not interested of playing abroad, or not hired yet. That Sweden qualified was almost unnoticed.