Today Sweden are playing against Argentina in Nya Ullevi stadium. In media, it is a clash between Messi vs Ibrahimovic than Sweden vs Argentina, a result of their stardom and a personal rivalry started when both played together for single season with Barcelona.
Argentina is a football power having won two world cups and two final berths. Sweden won’t come par to Argentina, but they are a regular in Euro competition and World Cup(WC) off late and a final birth in 1958 when they hosted WC. But they have played each other just twice. Once in 1934 that Sweden won and in 2002 WC, it ended with a scoreline of 1-1. On scoreboard it was a draw, but it might be the best draw they have had in their history. That took them to knock round along with England from group of death consisting of Nigeria too.
In 2002, Argentina came as a favorite to win WC as winner of South American qualifiers coached by Marcelo Bielsa. Their team constituted of midfield maestro’s Veron, Aimar, Ortega, a forward lineup of Batistuta, Crespo, Claudio Lopez and defensive stars in form of Ayala and Walter Samuel. And they were playing a possession based football similar to total football. In group stages, they had more possession, created more chances and won more corners then any other team. Unfortunately they were also on their way home. Reason told for their failure are defensive weakness on counters(a problem for most possession based teams) and difficulty in regaining possession once it’s lost. Fingers also pointed on the quality of chances created after creating most chances in group stage but scored just 2 goals.
Some people believed exit was due to bad number 13 because it was their 13th attempt in WC final stages. Whatever the reason be, team of 2002 missed a wonderful opportunity to trigger a wonderful moment all Argentine people looked for after their worst economic crisis.
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