No big surprises in Sweden coach Erik Hamren's Euro 2016 squad
Sweden coach Erik Hamren has announced a Euro 2016 squad without any big surprises, mixing youth with experience as he tries to find the right supporting cast for Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Hamren included six members of the under-21 team that surprisingly became European champions last summer, while eight players are left from Sweden's Euro 2012 squad. One of those, of course, is Ibrahimovic, who is likely playing in his last major tournament in France and will have to carry the scoring load if Sweden is to advance from a group that includes Italy, Belgium and Ireland.
"We need our only world class player to be at his best," Hamren said about his team's chances. "We have a good mix with a world-class player taking a big responsibility for the team ... but also the team taking a huge responsibility for the world-class player."
Here's a look at Sweden's 23-man squad ...
Veteran Andreas Isaksson remains Sweden's clear No. 1 going into his fifth and final major tournament. The 34-year-old Isaksson was born on the same day as Ibrahimovic -- Oct. 3, 1981 -- and the two have been mainstays on opposite ends of the pitch for the national team since 2004.
The former Manchester City and PSV Eindhoven goalkeeper now plays for Turkish side Kasimpasa and may be past his prime, but he remains a reliable presence at the back with a wealth of experience.
FC Copenhagen goalkeeper Robin Olsen will be his main backup, with AIK's Patrik Carlgren the third choice.
Hamren is only taking seven defenders to France, with Celtic's Mikael Lustig the only recognised right-back. Veteran centre-back Mikael Antonsson is out injured, which could provide an opportunity for Benfica's promising 21-year-old Victor Lindelof to form a central pairing with Andreas Granqvist.
Notable omissions include West Brom's Jonas Olsson and Borussia Monchengladbach's Oscar Wendt, who is considered Sweden's best left-back by many but has fallen out with Hamren.
The other defenders are Erik Johansson (Copenhagen), Ludwig Augustinsson (Copenhagen), Martin Olsson (Norwich) and Pontus Jansson (Torino).
Key midfielder Albin Ekdal was included despite being injured in a bizarre nightclub incident. Sunderland's Sebastian Larsson also provides experience, while exciting winger Emil Forsberg (Leipzig) and Oscar Hiljemark (Palermo) could also play a big part in their first major tournament. Forsberg has reportedly been scouted by both Liverpool and Everton and will be looking to boost his profile even more on the big stage. Sweden has a solid midfield defensively, but Forsberg is perhaps their brightest creative spark going forward. Jimmy Durmaz (Olympiacos), Pontus Wernbloom (CSKA Moscow), Oscar Lewicki (Malmo) and Erkan Zengin (Trabzonspor) round out the list.
No surprise here as Ibrahimovic spearheads the attack. The Sweden captain is his country's all-time top scorer with 62 goals in 112 internationals, and will need to add to that tally for this team to get anywhere in France. The only question is who will play next to him in Hamren's normal 4-4-2 formation -- Marcus Berg of Panathinaikos or Celta Vigo's John Guidetti. Berg is the safe option, but Guidetti has arguably the bigger upside. Emir Kujovic of native club Norrkoping can bring some X-factor off the bench.
Predicted starting XI in opening match against Republic of Ireland:
Isaksson; Lustig, Lindelof, Granqvist, Olsson; Larsson, Kallstrom, Ekdal, Forsberg; Berg, Ibrahimovic.
Mattias is ESPN FC's Arsenal correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @MattiasKaren.