Germany will host Sweden tonight in their next World Cup Qualification match. Ahead of this fixture, we rewind the clock back to 24th June, 2006 when Germany and Sweden faced each other in the round-of-16 of the World Cup.
Germany qualified into the knockout stages having topped the table in Group A. Germany, being host nation of that World Cup, were one of the favorites for the title. The Germans sailed through the group stages without breaking a sweat. Sweden on the other hand, was in a relatively tough group with England and Paraguay in it. Sweden’s 1-0 victory over Paraguay proved to be the decisive match in the group and Lars Lagerbäck’s men qualified as the runners-up to England in Group B.
Munich was the venue where Germany and Sweden faced each other in the round-of-16. The home side got off to a flying start as Podolski scored two goals in the first 12 minutes of the match, with Miroslav Klose playing a big role in both of them. Podolski became only the third player in World Cup history and the first since 1962, to score two goals in the opening 12 minutes of a World Cup match.
Things got worse for Sweden as defender Teddy Lucic received his second yellow card in space of seven minutes. Lucic’s second booking was controversial and the referee did come under heavy criticism from Lagerback after this match. Germany dominated rest of the match, but Andreas Isaksson put a world class display of shot-stopping and prevented his team from experiencing an embarrassing scoreline. Isaksson made some great saves from Klose, Schweinsteiger and Ballack. Germany won the match comfortably in the end and set up a clash with Argentina in the quarter finals.
While this was the match when Lukas Podolski truly announced his arrival on the international scene (he won the World Cup’s best young player award that year ahead of the likes of Messi and Ronaldo), a stalwart of Swedish football announced his departure; albeit for the second time in his career.
Henrik Larsson had a match to forget. He missed a clear goal scoring opportunity in the opening stages of the match, where he had the opportunity to draw level for his side, but he shot wide from six yards out. Larsson also missed a penalty in the second half, which could have brought Sweden back into the match. The former Celtic striker announced his retirement from international football soon after this match.
Although Lagerback did manage to convince him to come out of retirement, once again, to play in the Euro 2008, Larsson never returned the same player. It was the end of a legacy in Swedish football.