Sweden started the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign with a draw against Austria away from home. They came into the match after a 2-0 friendly victory over Estonia, but their failure to win the friendly match places a lot of importance on the upcoming qualifying matches against Russia and Liechtenstein. Manager Erik Hamren was sweating on the fitness of star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic ahead of these two matches. The Paris St Germain centre forward suffered a rib injury at the end of August while playing for his club.
It was highly anticipated that Ibrahimovic would need almost month to recover from the injury and this would have ruled him out of these two matches. However, Ibrahimovic returned to the team and became Sweden’s record goalscorer by scoring two goals in the friendly against Estonia. The 32-year-old was not unable to influence the friendly against Austria in the same manner. After going down to a penalty from Bayern Munich defender David Alaba, Sweden came back quickly with a goal from Zengin. They were unable to find the winning goal that would have given them a positive start to the qualifying campaign.
Three teams are expected to be in contention for the top two automatic qualifying places with Sweden being one of them. “I myself have not talked to him, but I have people in management who have it and we have a good handle with Paris. My hope is that it is not as serious as it might have speculated in the media. With the information I have received, I hope that it will be quickly, even in Paris as well,” said the Sweden manager a month ago about the injury situation surrounding Ibrahimovic. Home matches against Russia and Liechtenstein will be key towards qualifying for the tournament. Ibrahimovic has now scored 50 goals for the national team.