May 23, 2018 / 2:47 PM / 5 months ago

Soccer: Sweden World Cup factbox

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Factbox on the Sweden national team ahead of the 2018 World Cup:

FIFA ranking: 23 (till June 7)

Previous tournaments:

The Swedes have taken part in 11 World Cup finals, with their best result coming when they hosted the tournament in 1958 and lost the final to Brazil. They also came third in the United States in 1994.

Coach:

Steeped in the traditions of the Swedish game, 55-year-old Janne Andersson took over from Erik Hamren in 2016 and immediately began implementing the kind of team-first policy that helped him to win the Swedish title with an unfancied IFK Norrkoping side in 2015.

Though his strengths lie in his traditional view of the game, Andersson is an intelligent, forward-thinking leader with a proven ability to get his teams to deliver at a high level.

Key players:

Emil Forsberg: The RB Leipzig winger has inherited both the number 10 shirt worn previously by Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the responsibility for being the team’s creative spark.

Forsberg is the outlet for many of Sweden’s counter-attacks, and his excellent close control, dribbling and shooting create plenty of opportunities for his team mates.

Robin Olsen: Tall and commanding, the FC Copenhagen goalkeeper is an excellent shot-stopper and a good performance in Russia will probably see him courted by top clubs in Europe.

Superb in the air and confident with his feet, Olsen is the last line of defense as well as the launch-pad for many of Sweden’s attacks.

Andreas Granqvist: Captain and center-back, Granqvist is the beating heart of the Sweden team and their leader on the pitch.

Not one to pull out of a tackle or shy away from a duel, he is capable of scoring from set-pieces or from distance with his thunderous right foot.

Form guide:

The high of World Cup qualification has been tempered somewhat by flat friendly performances in recent months, but the Swedes have proved in qualifying that they are capable of turning it on in competitive games.

How they qualified:

Sweden finished second in Group A on 19 points, four behind winners France, and edged out the Netherlands on goal difference before beating Italy 1-0 on aggregate in a thrilling two-legged playoff to book their World Cup berth.

Prospects:

Meticulous in his preparations, Andersson has a habit of getting the results he needs, despite the limited resources at his disposal, and at the very least he and his team will be aiming to get out of the group.

Should they finish as runners-up to Germany, they will most likely face Brazil in the last 16.

Reporting by Philip O'Connor, editing by Ed Osmond

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