The World Cup is ominously close! So that you aren't caught offside (they have that in soccer, right?), we're previewing all the participants, bringing you Four Things You Don't Know About Them. If you have a tidbit, send it along to tips@Deadspin.com. Today: Sweden! And for World Cup previews that are even better than ours, check out That's On Point, who helped us with these as well.
• 1. They Are Built Fjord Tough. For a country of only 8.5 million people, fewer than New York City, Sweden has been to the World Cup a ridiculous 11 times (coming in second in 1958 when they hosted it.) Sweden came in third in '94, in the U.S., after barely losing to eventual champ Brazil. Their best player, however, is not "totally" Swedish: Zlatan Ibrahimovic. — (thanks to James Vinocur).
• 2. Coaching Controversy. The most famous Swede at the World Cup will be Sven Goren Erickson, but he'll be coaching England. Sven resigned earlier in the year effective after the World Cup, and the English FA named Steve McLaren new manager (Effective 8-1-06) This isn't like a college coach quitting or getting fired before a bowl game and the University naming a successor, this is a coach quitting before the Super Bowl and the team hiring a new coach before the game. — (thanks to Geoffrey Thomas).
• 3. It's Getting Hotter There. Sweden has two hot princesses. The cuter of the two is named Madeleine. Victoria isn't too bad either, especially considering she's the heir to the throne, but Madeleine is hot. And she parties like Paris Hilton. — (thanks to K.W. Donovan).
• 4. Set Your TiVos. England/Sweden on June 20 in Koln ought to be a cracker, as they say. The Swedes caught a massive break when the Boy Wonder, Wayne Rooney, broke his foot against Chelski last weekend. Still, this is a huge one. The winner likely gets Poland in the Round of 16, the loser likely faces Germany in front of 60,000-plus beer fueled, laderhosen-wearing Krauts in Munich. — (thanks to Mike Cardillo).