Despite never winning the tournament, Sweden have featured in 12 of the 21 FIFA World Cups. In the early years, the Swedes finished third in Brazil in 1950 and were runners-up on home soil eight years later. They also finished third in the World Cup in the United States in 1994.
For a country with a population of only around 10 million (based on current estimates) Sweden could definitely be seen to have over-achieved on the World Stage over the years. And though they failed to qualify for two of the last three World Cups, missing out in 2010 and 2014, they made the quarter finals in Russia in 2018.
World Cup Results
Sweden missed the 2010 and 2014 World Cups after unconvincing qualifying campaigns but qualified for four of the previous five, getting past the group stage in three of those. The Swedes were a European powerhouse back in the day, as they reached the quarter-finals, semi-finals and finished third in the first three tournaments for which they qualified, in 1934, 1938 and 1950 respectively (they did not enter the inaugural World Cup in Uruguay in 1930).
They were losing finalists at the 1958 World Cup when they were hosts, losing 5-2 to Pele’s Brazil in the final. They also picked up a bronze medal in the United States of America in 1994 when Brazil were again their undoing: they lost to the eventual champions 1-0 in the semis.
|Year||Host||Stage of Elimination (Position)||Manager||Top Scorer|
|2018||Russia||Quarter-final (7th)||Janne Andersson||Andreas Granqvist (2)|
|2006||Germany||Round of 16 (14th)||Lars Lagerback||Marcus Allback (1), Henrik Larsson (1) & Freddie Ljungberg (1)|
|2002||South Korea & Japan||Round of 16 (13th)||Lars Lagerback & Tommy Soderberg||Henrik Larsson (3)|
|1994||USA||Semi-final (3rd)||Tommy Svensson||Kennet Andersson (5)|
|1990||Italy||Group Stage (21st)||Olle Nordin||Tomas Brolin (1), Johnny Ekstrom (1) & Glenn Stromberg (1)|
|1978||Argentina||Group Stage (13th)||Georg Ericson||Thomas Sjoberg (1)|
|1974||West Germany||Second Round (5th)||Georg Ericson||Ralf Edstrom (4)|
|1970||Mexico||Group Stage (9th)||Orvar Bergmark||Ove Grahn (1) & Tom Turesson (1)|
|1958||Sweden||Final (2nd)||George Raynor||Kurt Hamrin (4) & Agne Simonsson (4)|
|1950||Brazil||Semi-final (3rd)||George Raynor||Karl-Erik Palmer (3) & Stig Sundqvist (3)|
|1938||France||Semi-final (4th)||Jozsef Nagy||Harry Andersson (3), Arne Nyberg (3) & Gustav Wetterstrom (3)|
|1934||Italy||Quarter-final (8th)||Jozsef Nagy||Sven Jonasson (2)|
Have Sweden Ever Won the World Cup?
Sweden have never been World Cup winners but have finished as runners up (1958) and were the third placed side twice (in 1994 and 1950).
With Englishman George Raynor in the dugout, Sweden reached the final on home soil back in 1958. The Swedes were making up for lost time having missed the 1954 World Cup in Switzerland. The home nation beat Mexico 3-0 and Hungary 2-1 before drawing 0-0 with Wales to win their group. They then beat Soviet Union 2-0 in the quarters and West Germany 3-1 in the semi final before losing 5-2 to Brazil in the final in Solna. The final will be remembered as the first to feature a then 17 year old starlet called Pele. He was the undoubted star on the day, scoring a hat-trick and announcing himself to the world in no uncertain terms.
After years away from being a top World Cup team (though they did manage to finish fifth in the 1974 World Cup in West Germany), Sweden broke back onto the scene at the 1994 World Cup in USA. Tommy Svensson’s side drew two group matches (against Cameroon and Brazil) but beat Russia to follow eventual winners Brazil through to the knockout stages. Sweden then beat Saudi Arabia in the Round of 16 before edging past Romania on penalties in the last eight. Unfortunately, their journey came to an end when they lost to Brazil in Pasadena in the semis, a goal from Bebeto proving decisive.
Times Sweden Didn’t Qualify for the World Cup
The 2018 World Cup in Russia was Sweden’s first appearance in the finals since Germany 2006. The Swedes failed to reach South Africa in 2010 and then also missed out on the Brazil World Cup four years later. Despite winning seven of 10 qualifiers, they missed out on qualification to the 1998 World Cup in France. Overall, Sweden have failed to qualify for eight World Cups.
|2010||South Africa||Lars Lagerback||10||5||3||2|
Looking at the World Cups for which they have qualified, Sweden have tended to perform well, and better than many other nations with similar populations. Sweden were disappointing at the 1978 World Cup in Argentina, however, failing to win any of their group games to finish in 13th place. They were then absent from the next two World Cups.
Their poorest showing at a World Cup has to be at the Italy tournament in 1990 though. Four years before reaching the semis in the United States, the Swedes lost three out of three in the group stage to exit the tournament with zero points. Olle Nordin’s boys were beaten 2-1 by Brazil, which is fair enough really. But they also lost 2-1 to both Costa Rica and Scotland. At least they were consistent. After three 2-1 defeats, Sweden finished in 21st place.