Ibrahimovic adapts to mentor role with Sweden after comeback

Two begins. Three assists. Six factors.

The return of Zlatan Ibrahimovic to worldwide soccer has been a convincing success for Sweden’s nationwide workforce, though the AC Milan striker failed to rating in both of the wins over Georgia or Kosovo in World Cup qualifying.

At 39 years previous, Ibrahimovic is about extra than simply objectives at this stage of his career. He sees himself as a mentor to an thrilling crop of younger attackers, led by Alexander Isak.

“I told them, I do not have to score goals, I will help you instead,’” stated Ibrahimovic, who’s now not the whole focus of Sweden’s attacking recreation plan like he was earlier than retiring from worldwide responsibility in 2016.

Fears that Ibrahimovic’s return would have an effect on the steadiness of the workforce have thus far proved unfounded, with Sweden following up a 1-0 win over Georgia on Thursday with a 3-0 victory at Kosovo on Sunday.

There are a lot sterner checks to come for the Swedes — notably at residence towards Spain of their subsequent qualifier in September — however coach Janne Andersson is delighted with how the nation’s star participant has been reintegrated.

“I am very happy with him and his professionalism in everything he does,” Andersson stated.

“He is impressive. He does not want us to talk about his age but if we do, I can say that his professionalism is one of the reasons why he is still at this level.

“And it was fun that we could use him better in his own game. It’s fun that he was able to contribute.”

Ibrahimovic, who shall be rested for a pleasant towards Estonia on Wednesday in an effort to handle his workload, began up entrance alongside the 21-year-old Isak for each of the qualifiers final week. Isak did extra of the working — not simply within the extensive attacking channels however again into midfield to assist out defensively — leaving Ibrahimovic to keep additional upfield and discover areas to fear his opponents.

Ibrahimovic’s hold-up play inside the world was notably spectacular, utilizing his top and shut management to convey the attackers round him into play. It was clear that was a selected recreation plan of Andersson’s.

That was the origin of Viktor Claesson’s winner towards Georgia, which got here after Ibrahimovic introduced down an extended ball and turned it again into the center of the penalty field with his subsequent contact. The opening purpose towards Kosovo was scored by Ludwig Augustinsson from Ibrahimovic’s acrobatic flick.

His low, sq. go to Isak led to the Real Sociedad striker scoring on the second try additionally within the first half, whereas Ibrahimovic was off the sector when Sebastian Larsson transformed a penalty to make it 3-0.

“When we hit the long ball … Zlatan is fantastic in that part of the game,” Andersson said.

“Neither he nor I care if he scores a goal or not. It just feels very good to have him out there.”

Isak, who looks to have established himself ahead of Marcus Berg, has flaws in terms of his ruthlessness in front of goal and strength on the ball. But he has spoken of the influence Ibrahimovic, Sweden’s record scorer and possibly its greatest ever player, has had on him in only a few days of training.

And that appears to be a key part of Ibrahimovic’s role in the Sweden squad heading into the European Championship.

“I will put pressure on the other players,” he stated, “in order that they push themselves to carry out much more.”

This story has been printed from a wire company feed with out modifications to the textual content.

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