IKEA, Clas Ohlsson, meatballs, the Nobel Prize, cheap meat and spirits just across the border, ABBA and Astrid Lindgren. Norway has a lot to thank Sweden for.
Then it is only right and reasonable that we give back a little. Now they have got Glenn Solberg to get the proud Swedish handball team back on the right course.
But even Solberg had not thought that he would find the final course in the first attempt.
Sweden came to Egypt completely without pressure and expectations. They left without big stars like Andreas Nilsson, Lukas Nilsson, Niclas Ekberg, Mikael Appelgren and Simon Jeppsson. And was judged north and down by most.
One of them was me. In the blog where I assessed Norway’s challengers in the medal match, I did not mention Sweden in a word. I must honestly admit that I had no faith that this Swedish team would go to a semifinal and at least not to a final.
Then it is simply a pleasure to raise my arms and say that I was wrong. That the best nation in World Cup history goes to the finals under the leadership of a Norwegian is nothing but very fun.
Handball is a team game, and where the biggest teams depend on their stars, the team itself is the big star for Sweden.
“There’s no I in team,” say the Americans. And it sees a clear in the Swedish team. No one is bigger than the team. Everyone is moving in the same direction. Both in the coaching team and on the field. Player by player, Sweden should not have had an opportunity to reach a World Cup final, but where other national teams are dependent on individual players, Sweden appears as a team. And they have been well paid for Solberg not wanting to change player defensive attacks.
It’s a bunch that seems to be having a lot of fun on their way to Egypt. And the tour guide is Norwegian Solberg.
But Sweden has not been completely without stars.
Hampus Wanne is perhaps the safest card of all on the all star team. I do not think anyone who has seen Sweden in the World Cup has any problems understanding why Magnus Jøndal sits a lot on the bench in Flensburg-Handewitt. The left winger scored ten goals in the semifinals and stands with 48 goals in eight games in the championship.
Goalkeeper Andreas Palicka, playmaker Jim Gottfridsson and defense chief Max Darj are certainly in the question of a place on the World Cup star team as well.
The Norwegian handball masters can take a look at Sweden. For what characterizes the Swedish team in this World Cup is what Norway has missed, but which they have previously been known for. Namely, a huge effort, solid defense and lightning fast counterattacks. Not to mention a fantastic joy of playing.
Today, Sweden will play its first World Cup final in 20 years. And no matter how it goes, they will be the first nation to take twelve World Cup medals for men. France has six golds, but stands at eleven medals in total.
And Sweden won its fourth and so far last World Cup gold in Egypt in 1999. Could it be a sign?
When Norway did not go to any finals this time, there could be nothing better than Sweden getting there. Everyone loves a good underdog. And most of us love our neighbor.
Even though Denmark is an opponent in the final, we do like Glenn Solberg and learn “Du gamla, du fria” and sing along. Because it is better with one Norwegian gold medal than none.