Despite making their FIFA World Cup debut as early as 1934, Sweden didn’t play at a European Championship until they qualified as hosts for the 1992 edition. Sweden’s maiden Euros appearance on home soil was one to be remembered. Let’s explore how the Swedes got so close to European glory.
Sweden’s Maiden Euros Appearance: So Close to Glory
Group Stage Success
In their opening game against France, defender Jan Eriksson gave Sweden the lead, but the superstar Jean-Pierre Papin denied the hosts a win. In a tournament hosted by Sweden, it was almost fated that Denmark would be in the same group, and that’s exactly what happened. Stakes were high, with both sides viewing this as the must-win match in such a competitive group. In this ‘must-win’ match, Tomas Brolin of Parma made sure Sweden were victorious against their arch-enemies and best friends to the south.
Eriksson scored against France. Brolin scored against Denmark. Both scored against England, with Brolin scoring one of the all-time great Swedish goals. Stunning and rapid passing culminated in a superb finish in the top corner. Neighbours Denmark’s chances seemed bleak after dropping points against England and losing to Sweden, but a sensational display against France kept the dream of an all-Scandinavian final alive. Sweden and Denmark advanced to the semi-finals ahead of France and England. Reigning world champions Germany awaited Sweden.
Semi-Final Heartache and Denmark’s Triumph
Another Thomas (Hässler) put the Germans in front and Karl-Heinz Riedle doubled the lead as the hour-mark was approaching. Brolin restored Sweden’s hope from the penalty spot five minutes later, but Riedle’s second goal and Germany’s third extinguished it. Kennet Andersson’s goal in the 89th minute only served as consolation, but it would not be the last fans saw of him on the international stage. As fate would have it, Denmark ultimately became champions in a competition hosted by Sweden, but the men in blue and yellow defeated the Danes when they came head-to-head, which almost matters more than winning the title itself. And Sweden did well to reach the semi-finals in their maiden Euros tournament. It was also the first major tournament showcase of this golden Swedish generation, offering a sample of what the world could expect in the United States two years later.