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Wednesday, 10 April, 2002, 11:38 GMT 12:38 UK
Sweden: The nearly men
Action from the 1958 World Cup final between Brazil and Sweden
Sweden were beaten by a superb Brazillian side in 1958
Standing between Sweden and World Cup glory were Brazil, whose team included a 17-year-old who had already established a reputation.

Sweden, the host nation, had reached the 1958 final.

On the way, they finished top of their group and beat Russia 2-0 in the quarter-final and West Germany 3-1 in the semi-final.

Sweden's World Cup stats
Played - 38
Won - 14
Drawn - 9
Lost - 15
Goals scored - 66
Goals conceded - 60

But they could not prevent the emergence of the teenage player who would come to be heralded as the greatest of all time - Pele.

In their best-ever performance in the World Cup, Sweden finished runners-up to Brazil as Pele contributed two goals in their 5-2 victory in the final.

It is as close as Sweden have come in a history that seemingly hands them the title of the "nearly-men".

Finishing fourth once, third twice and beaten finalists is hardly a record to be ashamed of.

And Sweden have failed to progress beyond the first-round stage only three times in their nine appearances.

Sweden's Henrik Larsson is a huge talent
Larsson will be a major threat to defences
But, it remains to be seen whether they can win football's ultimate prize.

Unfortunately for Sweden, Brazil - the most successful World Cup side - have stood in their way with frustrating frequency.

Seven meetings have taken place between the sides with Sweden losing all but one of the matches and managing only a draw in the other.

Sweden's South American Nemesis beat them into fourth place in 1938, and prevented them reaching the final in 1994.

They eventually finished third in what is their most recent appearance in the World Cup.

Having earned a 1-1 draw against Brazil in the group stages, usual service was resumed when the two were paired in the semi-final.

Sweden's World Cup stats
Biggest win - 8-0 v Cuba in 1938
Biggest defeat - 1-7 v Brazil in 1950
Top scorer - Kennet Andersson - 5 goals
Most appearances - Karl Svensson, Bo Larsson - 11 matches

Sweden lost 1-0.

Brazil have also inflicted Sweden's heaviest World Cup defeat, demolishing their opponents 7-1 during the group stages in 1950.

Qualification has often proved a problem for Sweden, who have failed to make the finals six times.

They have been absent from three of the last five World Cups.

However, it is clear that once there, Sweden perform impressively.

A pathway that does not set them on a collision with Brazil would be most welcome this time.

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GROUP F
  P GD PTS
SWEDEN 3 +1 5
ENGLAND 3 +1 5
ARGENTINA 3 0 4
NIGERIA 3 -2 1

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