Sweden’s collective spirit compensates for lack of stars, says Dahlin

Sweden may be without famous star Zlatan Ibrahimovic at the World Cup, but their “collective spirit” gives them a good chance of progressing into the knockout stage in Russia, former striker Martin Dahlin.

Janne Andersson’s team beat Italy in the play-offs to secure their spot in the tournament this year after failing to reach the finals in 2010 and 2014.

Their return to the big stage raised the possibility of all-time top scorer Ibrahimovic ending his international retirement, but the LA Galaxy star’s hopes went unfulfilled.

Drawn in Group F alongside Germany, South Korea and Mexico, Sweden will need strong showings in the group stage to book a place in the last-16, but Dahlin is sure they have enough quality to compensate for the lack of star power.

“It’s a team that is very well organised,” Dahlin, who was a key part of the Sweden team that finished third in 1994, told Goal. “It’s also a team where everyone works hard for each other. There is a real collective spirit. There are not many big stars, but the collective is above all. And we see that they are doing well.

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“I could quote you [the big players] like Emil Forsberg, Jimmy Durmaz or Viktor Claesson. Overall I think it’s in midfield that you can have players who might surprise you.

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“I think they have a good chance of reaching at least the second round. I think they can beat South Korea and eventually Mexico. It will certainly be more difficult against Germany. But, for sure, they have all their chances to reach at least the round of 16.

“Against Germany we will face one of the most competitive teams around at the moment. Of course it’s going to be complicated. But in the World Cup, you never know. Anything can happen.”

Sweden’s tournament begins on Monday when they face South Korea in Nizhny.

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