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WORLD CUP USA '94 / SEMIFINALS : The Final Four

July 13, 1994|GRAHAME L. JONES

The 52-game, 24-team World Cup has come down to its final stages. Four teams have earned the right to play today for a berth in the final on Sunday at the Rose Bowl.

B. SWEDEN VS. BRAZIL

TODAY

SITE: Rose Bowl at 4:30

TEAM ANALYSIS

SWEDEN

If there is one characteristic that best describes Sweden's World Cup team it is balance. Other teams have a good defense, a good offense, a good midfield, a good goalkeeper, or a combination of two or more of the above. But 20 teams have fallen.

Sweden has reached the final four because it is good from top to bottom. It has no outstanding player in the mold of Romario or Roberto Baggio, but it also has no weak link. Coacy Tommy Svensson has built a team in the truest sense of the word.

The Swedish style is a no-nonsense brand of soccer, nothing very fancy but everything very effective. The 4-4-2 formation is worked to perfection, using a solid defense from which to launch attacks down either wing or over the top.

Goalkeeper Thomas Ravelli's vast experience makes up for his advanced years, and he came through during penalty kicks against Romania with two saves. The back line of Roger Ljung, Joachim Bjorklund, Patrik Andersson and Roland Nilsson can be beaten, but it takes some doing. Defensive midfielder Stefan Schwarz will miss the game because he received tow yellow cards against Romania. Midfielder Jonas Thern missed Sunday's match against Romania because of swollen knee and is listed as questionable for the semifinal.

The creative work is done by Thomas Brolin, who buzzes all over the field and has a phenomenal work rate, and Klas Ingesson. Up front, Martin Dahlin and Kennet Andersson have eight goals between them.

It all adds up to produce an increasingly confident squad that finished third in the 1992 European Championship and is assured of finishing no worse than fourth in the world.

World Cup '90

SWEDEN was in Group C and lost all three games by the same score, 2-1, eliminating it from the competition. It lost to Brazil, Scotland and Costa Rica.

SWEDEN COACH: Tommy Svensson

Age: 49

Born: March 4, 1945

Nationality: Swedish.

World Cup Experience: Played as a midfielder for Sweden in the 1970 World Cup in Mexico.

World Cup Record: 2-0-3.

ROAD TO THE SEMIFINALS

SWEDEN (2-03)

DATE: JUNE 19

SITE: Rose Bowl

RESULT: Tied Cameroon, 2-2

HIGHLIGHT: Dahlin goal 75th minute ties it.

*

DATE: JUNE 24

SITE: Pontiac, Mich.

RESULT: Defeated Russia, 3-1

HIGHLIGHT: Dahlin scores on two headers

*

DATE: JUNE 28

SITE: Pontiac, Mich.

RESULT: Tied Brazil, 1-1

HIGHLIGHT: Both teams content with a tie

*

DATE: JULY 3

SITE: Dallas

RESULT: Defeated Saudi Arabia, 3-1

HIGHLIGHT: Kennet Andersson scores twice

*

DATE: JULY 10

SITE: Palo Alto

RESULT: Tied Romania, 2-2**

HIGHLIGHT: Ravelli stops deciding penalty kick

**Advanced on penalty kicks, 5-4

THE ROSTERS

SWEDEN

1 Thomas Ravelli: GK

12 Lars Erikson: GK

22 Magnus Hedman: GK

2 Roland Nilsoon: D

3 Patrik Andersson: D

4 Joachim Bjorklund: D

5 Roger Ljung: D

13 Mikael Nilsson: D

14 Jan Eriksson: D

15 Pontus Kamark: D

6 Stefan Schwarz: MF

7 Henrik Larsson: MF

8 Klas Ingesson: MF

9 Jonas Thern: MF

16 Anders Limpar: MF

17 Stefan Rehn: MF

21 Jesper Blomqvist: MF

10 Martin Dahlin: F

11 Tomas Brolin: F

18 Hakan Mild: F

19 Kennet Andersson: F

20 Magnus Erlingmark: F

KEY

GK: Goalkeeper

D: Defender

MF: Midfielder

F: Forward

TEAM ANALYSIS

BRAZIL

Before jumping on the bandwagon and buying a Brazilina shirt or hat, learning Portuguese or discovering long-lost relatives in Sao Paulo or Rio de Janeiro, remember one thing:

Brazil's current national team is neither the most talented nor the most entertaining side the country has produced.

For example, it pales in comparison with Brazil's 1970 World Cup-winning team, the most recent one to win the trophy. Goalkeeper Claudio Taffarel is solid but unspectacular. The defense, with the exception of the talented Jorginho, is adequate but no more. The midfield, from which all the inspiration should come, is more interested in defense than offense.

But Brazil has made up for these deficiencies by having two of the most finest strikers in the sport today. Forwards Romario and Bebeto, both of whom play in Spain, have given the team a sparkle that has fans raving.

The Brazilians have always been everybody's favorite "other" team, after their own country. It's no different this year. What is different is that Brazil had failed, at least until its game against the Netherlands, to come to life. It had won, certainly, but it had not dazzled fans with its overall play.

Part of the reason is team selection. Coach Carlos Alberto Parreira inexplicably left the gifted Valdo off his squad of 22 and has given the equally exciting Cafu limited playing time. Both would have helped provide the missing flair.

World Cup '90

BRAZIL swept through Group C, giving up only one goal in three games. Brazil wasn't as fortunate in the round of 16, as Claudio Canniggia scored in the 80th minute for Argentina, which held on to defeat Brazil, 1-0.

BRAZIL COACH: Carlos Alberto Parreira

Age: 51.

Born: March 25, 1943.

Nationality: Brazilian.

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