Tribal Football reported yesterday that Freddie Ljungberg is eyeing a return to team Sweden. Freddie's agent Marlon Fleischman told the Swedish Newzglobe:
Freddie would like to play for the national team again, he is really hungry for national team.
At least that's how Tribal Football translated it... More reasoning on why Freddie might want to return for his country and why that makes it doubtful he will return to the Fire after the break.
Ljungberg retired from international soccer after Sweden lost to Russia 2-0 in the Group Stage of Euro 2008. Since his retirement, Sweden failed to qualify for the World Cup by finishing 3rd in their UEFA qualifying group behind Portugal and Denmark. The Swedes were able to tie 'front-runners' Portugal 0-0 in both of their matches but they also lost both games against Denmark 1-0. Had Sweden won just one of those Danish games, it would have been them who automatically qualified and tasted the sweetness of the World Cup while Denmark sat at home on their stylish, Allen wrench constructed furniture. Even if Sweden had defeated Albania in the opening qualifying match instead of drawing the game 0-0, it would have been Sweden who entered into the UEFA playoff, not Portugal.
If Freddie did announce his unretirement from international soccer, he could still get up to speed in time to play in the next Euro 2012 qualifier on March 25 versus Moldova. In addition to the Moldovans, Finland, Hungary, Netherlands, and tiny San Marino are in the group. The Dutch are running away with first place but it's not out of the question for Sweden to get the top second place spot among the 9 Euro groups - and that would automatically qualify them for the next stage (yeah, it's really complicated, read here for more info). Sweden should at least be able to finish in second place and make it into the two game playoff against another second place team. Whether or not the team would be better with Ljungberg is up for debate, but he clearly would be a top 25 player worthy of consideration for the Starting XI.
Let's be honest, if Ljungberg is out to be the best for his country or even just to stay on the European radar, he needs to sign with a European club when the transfer period opens in January. The level of play will get him back up to form quicker and better than any MLS pre-season conditioning would. International soccer expert resident Ryan Sealock can attest to how important that game experience is for the international level. I'm afraid we have likely seen the last of Freddie Ljungberg in Fire red but what a run it was. His dozen or so games were some of the best performances anyone has ever given for the badge and many of those performances came when the team only had pride on the line. I thank him for his time with the team and I'm honored to have him in the ranks of 'former Fire players'... barring some incredible last minute Frank Klopas midnight hour magic of course.