Former Sweden captain Zlatan Ibrahimovic said retiring from the national team has made the country play without pressure.
The Manchester United striker ended his international duties following Euro 2016 after 116 caps and a record of 62 goals.
Sweden are preparing their opening leg against Italy in Stockholm and while the 36-year-old may not be present but Janne Andersson’s men are all talented.
“Sweden are playing without pressure, because since I left, nobody expects much of them now, from the media to the fans. When I play, the level is raised, so it is lowered in my absence,” Ibrahimovic told Sky Sport Italia.
“Having said that, this squad remains a good collective, just with less responsibility on their shoulders. The players are not very experienced, but the project is ambitious.”
Roma veteran Daniele De Rossi knows Ibrahimovic well and agreed that the striker’s absence in the World Cup is a clear advantage for every team that will face Sweden.
“The fact that [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic is out, is clearly an advantage for every team that can face Sweden.
“I wouldn’t play against Ibrahimovic even if he was 40 years old and with a broken leg. Of course, his absence is an advantage however, Sweden are not an unknown team. We know many Swedish players, many of them play in Europe and Italy. It is not either an unknown or a second-tier team.
“The World Cup is important for me and I played already three of them. This is even more true for Sweden who had less opportunities so they will give all they have, and we will have to do the same.”