- Associated Press - Saturday, December 12, 2015

For Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the European Championship is probably the last chance to do something big on the international stage.

For that to happen, though, he’ll need to get a bit more help from the rest of a Sweden squad that is often overly reliant on the towering Paris Saint-Germain striker.

Sweden enters the Euros looking more than ever like a one-man team, as Ibrahimovic scored 11 of the team’s last 15 goals in qualifying - including a double in the second leg of its playoff against Denmark to secure a spot in France.

While Ibrahimovic gives Sweden a world-class striker who can single-handedly decide a game against any opponent, the team has little else in terms of top-quality players and often looks short of ideas when “Ibra” has an off night.

Sweden does have a promising new generation coming through as its under-21 team won the European Championship this past summer. But those players are relatively untested at the senior international level, and its aging group of veterans - like Kim Kallstrom and Sebastian Larsson - still has the trust of coach Erik Hamren in big games.



However, there are few given starters for the nine positions between goalkeeper Andreas Isaksson and Ibrahimovic up front, and team selection will be one of Hamren’s biggest challenges as he tries to balance youth with experience.

Here is a look at three of Sweden’s key players and its coach.

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ZLATAN IBRAHIMOVIC

The PSG forward is Sweden’s undisputed leader and the country’s all-time leading scorer with 62 goals in 111 games. Ibrahimovic will be playing in his sixth major tournament but Sweden has not reached a quarterfinal since Euro 2004 and missed the last two World Cups. At 34, the striker has acknowledged that this is “probably” his last international tournament - unless he decides to also play in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics - marking the end of an era in Swedish football.

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ANDREAS ISAKSSON

Isaksson has been Sweden’s clear No. 1 goalkeeper for more than a decade, having earned 127 caps since making his debut in 2002. The former Manchester City and PSV Eindhoven keeper now plays for Turkish club Kasimpasa, and at age 34 could also be nearing the end of his international career. A solid shot stopper, Isaksson has improved his ability to handle the ball with his feet, which used to be a weakness.

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JOHN GUIDETTI

Once seen as the heir apparent to Ibrahimovic, Guidetti’s career stalled after a serious leg injury in 2012. That problem with a damaged nerve came after he scored 20 goals in 23 games for Feyenoord while on loan from Manchester City, a spell that earned him a reputation as one of the most promising young strikers in Europe. However, he needed nearly a year to recover and his City career never took off, leading to loan spells at Stoke and Celtic before joining Spanish club Celta Vigo. If Sweden is to have a real scoring threat aside from Ibrahimovic at the Euros, Guidetti may have to rediscover his form quickly.

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COACH: ERIK HAMREN

Hamren made a clear decision when taking over the team in 2009 to make Ibrahimovic the focal point of the team at the expense of a more collective approach under his predecessor Lars Lagerback.

Ibrahimovic has flourished as a result, scoring 40 goals in 49 games under Hamren, but it has also made the team more one-dimensional.

“My whole attitude when I became national team coach was to do everything I could to utilize the type of world-class player he is,” Hamren said about Ibrahimovic after the playoff against Denmark. “The rest of the group is extremely loyal and do everything they can to give him the opportunity to shine. The team knows he’s the one who’s supposed to decide games.”

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