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Forsberg, Sweden thriving in a new era

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Euro 2016 team preview: Sweden face a difficult task in a tough group

Group E: Belgium | Italy | Republic of Ireland | Sweden

Sweden rarely miss a European Championship these days but have exited at the group stage in three of their past four appearances. The presence of Zlatan Ibrahimovic makes anything possible, but advancement to the knockout stage would be surprising.

How they qualified: Via playoffs

After finishing third behind Austria and Russia in Group G, Sweden were handed an almighty Scandinavian derby against Denmark. They won the home leg 2-1 before a superb Ibrahimovic double in Copenhagen ensured that they qualified at the expense of their bitter rivals.

How they'll proceed:

Sweden would have preferred to avoid both Italy and Belgium but should finish in front of Ireland and give themselves a chance to progress to the Round of 16. Should they qualify in third, they would likely be made short work of by France or Spain at that stage.

TBD by Editor
Sweden have qualified for their fifth straight European Championship.

Predicted lineup:

(4-4-2); GK: Andreas Isaksson; DF: Mikael Lustig, Andreas Granqvist, Erik Johansson, Martin Olsson; MF: Sebastian Larsson, Kim Kallstrom, Oscar Lewicki, Emil Forsberg; FW: Marcus Berg, Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Key player: Zlatan Ibrahimovic

It barely needs saying: Ibrahimovic is now 34, but he scored 11 of Sweden's 19 goals in qualifying, including three in their 4-3 aggregate playoff win over Denmark. He has also produced the goods at PSG and has the star quality to elevate a workmanlike side.

Manager: Erik Hamren

He had little playing career to speak of but was a successful coach domestically before taking the Sweden job in 2009, initially on a part-time basis while managing Norwegian side Rosenborg. He leads Sweden into a major tournament for the second time.

Schedule:

June 13 vs. Republic of Ireland (Noon ET/4 p.m. GMT; Stade de France, Saint-Denis)
-- LIVE on ESPN

June 17 vs. Italy (9 a.m. ET/1 p.m. GMT; Stade de Toulouse, Toulouse)
-- LIVE on ESPN

June 22 vs. Belgium (3 p.m. ET/7 p.m. GMT; Stade de Nice, Nice)
-- LIVE on ESPN2

Games are also LIVE on ESPN Deportes, ESPN FC, WatchESPN and the ESPN app.

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