2018 World Cup – Can The Swedes Smash It?
Sweden may not have ever won the FIFA World Cup, but they have gone close on several occasions. They made their World Cup Debut in 1934 when they reached the Quarter-Finals, whilst 4 years later they finished fourth.
They were next seen at the finals in 1950 when they improved again to finish third, returning 8-years later in Sweden where they were cruelly beaten in the final by Brazil in front of their home fans. They again finished third in 1994, and were knocked out in the last-16 at both the 2002 and 2006 World Cups. They did not qualify for the World Cup Finals in 2010 or 2014.
2018 World Cup Qualifying saw Sweden qualify for the play-offs by finishing second to France in their Qualifying Group, after which they claimed a place in the World Cup Finals with a surprise two-legged victory over Italy.
Sweden’s success was attributed to a new team ethic, with the players saying they felt more like a team after former talisman-striker Ibraham Ibrahimović had announced his retirement from International Football.
The bookies have priced a Swedish World Cup victory up at 125/1 but, if you don’t think they’ll win the World Cup, then you may wish to consider a bet on a different stage of elimination.
2018 World Cup Sweden Stage Of Elimination
8/11 Group Stage, 9/4 Last-16, 7/1 Quarter-Finals, 25/1 Semi-Finals, 66/1 Runner-Up, 125/1 Winner
Having come through the play-offs, there was always a chance that Sweden were going to be drawn in a tough group, and that looks to be the case with a Group F draw alongside Germany, Mexico and South Korea.
Current World Cup Holders Germany have the look of certainties to qualify from the Group after winning all their games in qualifying, which means Sweden will have to get the better of Mexico and South Korea.
South Korea are the weakest of the teams on paper, though Premier League players Son Heung-min (Tottenham), Lee Chung-yong (Crystal Palace) and Ki Sung-yeung (Swansea) at least offer some vital experience of European Football. FIFA also only rank them as the 59th best team in the world.
However, Mexico have proved themselves all over the globe in the World Cup. They may not have made it to the quarter-finals since 1986 but they’ve been a model of consistency since, making it to the last-16 at each of the last 6 World Cups.
Mexico just edge it on World Rankings too, though they’re only ranked one place higher than Sweden.
This Swedish squad also lacks experience of the biggest tournaments as, as well as not qualifying for the last two World Cup Finals, they also flopped at Euro 2016, where they scored just once.
Sweden showed they will be tough to beat by beating Italy in the play-offs to reach the World Cup Finals, but even their new-found team ethic may not be enough to get them into the knockout stages. Germany should stroll through this group, and the more experienced Mexicans are just preferred for second with the Swedes perhaps lacking a truly world-class striker unless Ibrahimović is encouraged to come out of retirement.