Fortunes rest on self-proclaimed 'best player in world'
Time Out Dubai staff
Team Profile: The Swedes will doubtless be looking forward to their meeting with England in Group D, a side that they’ve never lost to. Meanwhile, positive results against hosts Ukraine and Raymond Le Blanc’s resurgent France will depend on the form of AC Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic – an immensely talented, yet occasionally inconsistent talisman. Likewise, West Bromwich Albion’s Jonas Olsson has earned a call up to the Swedish ranks thanks to his impressive form in the English Premier League – form that he attributes to the new England boss Roy Hodgson. It remains to be seen whether Roy will rue his time spent nurturing the 29-year-old Swedish defender.
Coach: Erik Hamrén Hamrén’s playing career was short – he only lasted until his late teens before retiring – but as a coach for various clubs in Sweden and Denmark he has lifted the Swedish cup three times as well as winning the Danish title with Aalborg, also helping them reach the Champions League in the process. Plus, by reaching this summer’s finals, he’s already improved on his predecessor Lars Lagerback’s performance, who failed in his quest for qualification at the last World Cup in 2010.
Player to watch: Zlatan Ibrahimovic Having claimed to be the best player in the world, the former Barcelona striker certainly doesn’t lack confidence – and we’ll respectfully disagree with his bold statement. However, while his performances wearing the red and black striped shirt of AC Milan have been impressive and fruitful in terms of goals (he was top scorer in Serie A this season), he has proved to be a little hit and miss on the big stage. His fellow countrymen will be hoping he's fired up and ready to prove his doubters wrong.
FIFA World Ranking: 17 UEFA Euro Ranking: 24 Number of Euro appearances: 12 Previous best: Semi-finals in 1992 Qualification: Runners-up in Group E – 31 goals scored, 11 goals against, 77 attempts on target, 64 corners Form (qualifying): WWLWWWLWWW Fixtures: June 11 vs. Ukraine; June 15 vs. England; June 19 vs. France