Sweden, managed by the moustached Olle Nordin, were coming into qualifying Group 2 on the back of a very, very good 1988. They had drawn in West Germany, they had beaten the Soviet Union 2-0 and they had won 3-1 in Spain. The latter result might have to be viewed in light of the dismal Spanish European Championships showing, but nevertheless it was not expected of Sweden that they go to the Iberian Peninsula and win.

Their only defeat in ’88 had come in their penultimate preparation game: a 2-1 home loss to old foes Denmark. Still, spirits were high, as Sweden had just come from a qualification tournament, the one ahead of West Germany ’88, in which they had taken the might of Italy all the way to the final match, where a 2-1 home win for the Italians had sealed the two nations’ respective faiths. Read more…


Qualifier 1
Wembley Stadium, London




The Swedish opened their qualification campaign with an impressive defensive display against a talented English team, and the match belonged to their captain Hysén, who performed extremely well. Rarely does one player stand out like he did during the 90 minutes at Wembley. Sweden did not produce a lot themselves, but they will have been pleased to shut England out.

Line-up (4-4-2): Ravelli – R Nilsson (Schiller 77), P Larsson, Hysén (c), Ljung – Thern, Strömberg, Prytz, J Nilsson – Holmqvist (Ekström 64), Pettersson.

Qualifier 2
Stadium Qemal Stafa, Tirana

Shehu (33′)


Holmqvist (67′)
Ekström (71′)

In very difficult conditions on a pitch so uneven it was hard to make much progress with the ball along the deck, Sweden impressed as they came from behind to beat Albania, much due to a fine introduction from the substitutes’ bench: forward Holmqvist had been brought on for central midfielder Prytz, and from his wide midfield role he helped cause trouble among the hitherto untroubled Albanian defence. Holmqvist got the equalizer himself, and Ekström got the winner hitting it into the ground and over the goalkeeper following a cushioned header by P. Larsson.

Line-up (4-4-2): Ravelli – R Nilsson, Hysén (c), P Larsson, Ljung – Thern, Strömberg, Prytz (Holmqvist 66), J Nilsson – Pettersson, Ekström.

Int. friendly



Ratcliffe (o.g.)

Line-up (4-4-2): Ravelli – R Nilsson, Lönn, Ljung, Schiller – Limpar, Prytz, Thern (c), J Nilsson – Magnusson (Ekström 50), Pettersson

Qualifier 3
Råsunda Stadion, Stockholm

Ljung (76′)
Nylén-Larsson (90+2′)


Tarasiewicz (87′)

Despite their dominance, Sweden fail to create many good opportunities. In the end they get their win, thanks to strong-willed efforts on set-pieces. Thern is a true driving force in central midfield and Magnusson shows good form on top. Limpar makes a rare appearance, in a strange role. It’s a makeshift defense, and they sometimes struggle with quick Polish attackers.

Line-up (4-4-2): T Ravelli – R Nilsson, Lönn (A Ravelli 83), Ljung, Schiller – Limpar, Prytz, Thern (c), J Nilsson (N Larsson 60) – Ekström, Magnusson.

Int. friendly




Line-up (4-4-2): Ravelli – R Nilsson, Hysén (c), Ljung, Schiller – N Larsson, Thern, Prytz (Ingesson 26), J Nilsson – Ekström, Magnusson

Int. friendly
Idrætsparken, Copenhagen

Povlsen (32′)
Elstrup (42′, 74′))
Andersen (64′)
Bartram (70′)
M. Laurup (80′)



Line-up (4-4-2): Eriksson – R Nilsson, Hysén (c) (Schiller 39), Lönn, Ljung – Ekström, Strömberg, Prytz (Ingesson 68), J Nilsson – Gren (Thern h-t), Magnusson.

Int. friendly
Idrætsparken, Copenhagen

Rehn (26′)
Ljung, pen. (49′)


Cristóvão (79′)

Line-up (4-4-2): Ravelli – R Nilsson (c), Lönn, Ljung, Schiller (Nylén-Larsson h-t) – Limpar, Ingesson, Rehn, J Nilsson – Hellström, Magnusson (Gren 69).

Int. friendly
Malmö Stadion, Malmö

Thern (5′)
Lindqvist (63′)


Cantona (57′, 85′)
Papin (61′, 82′)

Line-up (4-4-2): Ravelli – R Nilsson, Hysén (c), P Larsson, Ljung – Limpar (N Larsson 68), Strömberg, Thern, J Nilsson – Hellström, Magnusson (Lindqvist 58).

Qualifier 4
Råsunda, Stockholm




After an indifferent summer, Sweden are content with keeping England out. Mr Nordin clearly predominantly focusing on getting a draw, as the main priority was to try and stifle the English flanks. Both Engqvist and Magnusson had opportunities to win it for the Swedish, but it would have been harsh on the visitors, who enjoyed a greater deal of possession. Sweden also thankful to goalkeeper Ravelli for some fine saves, most notably to Lineker’s late first half header, and also early in the second half as the same Spurs striker had threatened twice.

Line-up (4-4-2): Ravelli – R Nilsson, Hysén (c), P Larsson, Ljung – Engqvist, Thern, Ingesson (Strömberg 72), J Nilsson (Limpar 79) – Ekström, Magnusson.

Qualifier 5
Råsunda, Stockholm

Magnusson (20′)
Ingesson (55′)
Engqvist (90′)


Kushta, pen. (9′)

A must-win match for the Swedish, who fell behind early on, but did not let that trouble them. They kept belief in their approach, and eventually got the goals they deserved. They were never brilliant, but are a hard-working side which usually will create chances. Made the visitors pay for some sloppy defending for 3-1, but looked secure even before that as Albania were unable to threaten going forward after the break.

Line-up (4-4-2): Ravelli – R Nilsson, Hysén (c), P Larsson, Ljung – Gren (Engqivst 67), Thern, Ingesson, Limpar – Ekström (Lindqvist 82), Magnusson.

Qualifier 6
Stadion Śląski, Chorzów



Larsson, pen. (35′)
Ekström (60′)

Sweden go to Kraków and win, something which secures their qualification for Italia ’90. They finish group winners ahead of England, as the only two points they surrender during the six matches long qualification campaign are during their two scoreless draws against the English. A firmly struck first half penalty by defender Larsson and a superb second half solo effort by pacey forward Ekström make the Polish pay for a somewhat laxidaisical performance. An inspired Sweden are good value for their win.

Line-up (4-4-2): Ravelli – R Nilsson, Hysén (c), P Larsson, Ljung – Engqvist, Thern, Ingesson (N Larsson 70), J Nilsson – Ekström (Lindqvist 82), Magnusson.


To qualify as group winners ahead of England was a major feather in the cap for Sweden manager Olle Nordin and his crew. They had twice had scoreless encounters with the English, and during the game at Wembley, defender Glenn Hysén had given one of the most resounding individual performances throughout the entire Italia ’90 qualification. Sweden had capable players in various positions across the pitch, but first and foremost relied on a strong collective in their tactically astute 4-4-2 formation.

It had been a fine feat to come back from a goal down to beat Albania in hostile circumstances in Tirana, and this set the tone for their qualification after they’d secured that precious point in London. They would then nick a late winner in the early summer home clash against Poland, something which more or less ensured a two-team battle for the top spot. With five points from their opening three matches, Sweden could look forward to the return leg with England in an optimistic mood, even if a couple of heavy summer friendly defeats could’ve taken their toll on morale and belief: Losing 6-0 in Denmark against their arch-rivals and then 4-2 at home to France had been very unusual for a team well known for their defensive mettle.

After an even, yet relatively eventless draw with the English in Stockholm, the Swedish again had to come from behind to beat Albania, and they would travel to Poland knowing that a win would see them overtake England and secure that precious automatic qualifying berth. With Poland’s hopes for qualification gone after their 0-0 draw against England, Sweden stepped up a notch to claim probably their strongest win of the competition by 2-0 in Chorzów. They’d finish top of the pile, with England ultimately joining them for Italia ’90 as one of the two best runners-up across the three qualification groups of only four teams.

Sweden were another team where team consistency was key: Nine players had started four games or more, with three players ever-presents in terms of minutes played. The total number of 22 used also indicated relatively few changes. Much thanks to his out of the world performance at Wembley, Hysén was their best performer, almost averaging 7,50 from his five contributions. Behind him, richly gifted midfielder Jonas Thern, who had secured a move from domestic football to Portugal giants Benfica during the qualification, was possibly their most influental player from midfield, where two Italy based players in Glenn Strömberg and Robert Prytz had disappointed.

Final position: 1 (out of 4 – qualified as group winners)
Total record: 6 4 2 0 9-3 10
Home record: 3 2 1 0 5-2 5
Away record: 3 2 1 0 4-1 5

Player statistics

Number of players used: 22
Number of players including unused substitutes: 28
Ever-presents (540 mins): 3 (T Ravelli, Ljung, Thern)
Leading goalscorer: Johnny Ekström (2)
Yellow/red cards: 4/0

– overview

Andersson, Sven6
Dahlin, Martin1
Ekström, Johnny6423862
Engqvist, Leif3212031
Eskilsson, Hans1
Gren, Mats1167
Hellström, Jan2
Holmqvist, Hans211881
Hysén, Glenn554502/0
Ingesson, Klas3312331
Larsson, Niclas Nylén221491
Larsson, Peter55450
Limpar, Anders3211191
Lindqvist, Stefan22116
Ljung, Roger665401
Lönn, Peter11183
Magnusson, Mats4436011/0
Nilsson, Joachim55409
Nilsson, Roland66527
Pettersson, Stefan22180
Prytz, Robert33246
Ravelli, Andreas117
Ravelli, Thomas66540
Rehn, Stefan1
Schiller, Dennis2111103
Schwarz, Stefan2
Strömberg, Glenn3211981/0
Thern, Jonas66540

– game by game

PlayerEng (a)Alb (a)Pol (h)Eng (h)Alb (h)Pol (a)AppsMins
Larsson, N30R19+249
Larsson, P90909090905450
Nilsson, J90906079905409
Nilsson, R7790909090906527
Ravelli, A7+17
Ravelli, T9090909090906540

– ratings

PosPlayerAverage ratingNumber of rated games
1Hysén 7,485
2Thern 7,056
3Magnusson 6,974
4Ljung 6,956
5R Nilsson 6,916
6T Ravelli 6,866
7P Larsson 6,805
7J Nilsson 6,805
9Ingesson 6,803
Explanation to table: Total number of rated games: 6. A player needs to have been given a rating for half or more of the games in order to feature


14.02.1990 United Arab Emirates 2-1 Sweden
Goal: Schwarz
Line-up: S Andersson – N Larsson, Von der Burg, Vaattovaara, Kåmark (Schwarz 82) – Rödlund, Rehn, Engqvist (c) – Erlingmark, Eskilsson, Lindqvist

16.02.1990 United Arab Emirates 0-2 Sweden
Goals: Rehn, Ingesson
Line-up: L Eriksson – Kåmark, Erlingmark, J Eriksson, Schwarz – Engqvist (c), Rehn, Ingesson, J Nilsson – K Andersson, Ekström (Eskilsson 81)

21.02.1990 Belgium 0-0 Sweden
Line-up: Ravelli – R Nilsson, Hysén (c) (Schwarz h-t), P Larsson, Ljung – Engqvist, Rehn (N Larsson 64), Ingesson, J Nilsson – Pettersson, Magnusson (Ekström 58)

11.04.1990 Algeria 1-1 Sweden
Goal: Schwarz (pen.)
Line-up: Ravelli – R Nilsson, Hysén (c), P Larsson, Schwarz – Limpar, Strömberg, Ingesson, J Nilsson – Pettersson (Magnusson 67), Lindqvist (Ekström 53)

25.04.1990 Sweden 4-2 Wales
Goals: Brolin 2, Ingesson 2
Line-up: Ravelli – R Nilsson, Hysén (c), P Larsson, Ljung – Engqvist, Ingesson, Schwarz, Limpar – Brolin, Magnusson (Pettersson 70)
Thomas Brolin makes his international debut at the age of 20 with two goals to his name

27.05.1990 Sweden 6-0 Finland
Goals: Magnusson, Limpar, Brolin 2, P Larsson (pen.), Thern
Line-up: Ravelli – R Nilsson (N Larsson 64), Ljung, P Larsson, Schwarz – Limpar, Thern (c), Ingesson (Strömberg 73), J Nilsson – Magnusson (Ekström 68), Brolin (Pettersson 68)
…and follows up with a further two in his second match as the Swedes brush their near neighbours Finland aside