Do you believe in life after Zlatan? Sweden in 2018 showed signs of an international future beyond post-Ibra as they achieved something that their former talisman only managed in one of eight international tournaments: a quarter-final appearance.
They then continued to impress as they dramatically sealed promotion into UEFA Nations League A within their last two fixtures, winning late in Turkey before Victor Lindelof and Marcus Berg got them across the line against Russia in Stockholm.
A 3-3 ding-dong battle with Norway notwithstanding, Euro 2020 qualification was more comfortable, with the Blågult using an impressive 1-1 draw with Spain as a springboard to a second-place finish in their group.
Sweden aren’t looking back in anger as they navigate the post-Zlatan era, and breakthrough performances from these three starlets this summer might see Janne Andersson’s new-look side springing a serious shock.
It’s not easy for a wonderkid to leave the Hogwarts-for-nippy-forwards that is Borussia Dortmund, as shown by the contrasting fortunes of Ousmane Dembélé and Emre Mor.
However, after departing the Ruhr for Real Sociedad, despite a solid season on loan at Willem II, Alexander Isak is finally making his mark in La Liga, with eight goals and two assists in his last ten games for La Real.
Isak has all the tools a modern striker needs: nifty feet, instinctive penalty area movement, and a powerful shot capable of catching goalkeepers out at the near post.
The Stockholm-born forward has most emphatically made his case for national selection through developing a knack of scoring in big games; his equaliser nabbing Sociedad a handy point against Barcelona in December, before he put Real Madrid to the sword with two well-taken goals and an assist in his side’s stunning 4-3 victory.
Dejan Kulusevski’s solitary Sweden appearance came as a late substitute against the Faroe Islands in November, but you’d be foolish to bet on it being his last.
A multi-talented forward who can play just about anywhere, Kulusevski’s five goals and seven assists for Parma this season at the age of 19 caught the eye of Serie A leaders Juventus in January, who snapped him up for an initial £29.8m before loaning him back.
Kulusevski has a number of strengths as a winger, among them his frightening acceleration, his creatively weighted crosses and through balls, and laser-guided shooting.
All of these skills were evident as Parma upset Napoli 2-1 in Naples, with Kulusevski charging down an error from none other than Kalidou Koulibaly to open the scoring, before setting up Gervinho with a tidy one-two. A match winning display which will have Juventus and Sweden fans watching on with great interest.
By the age of 19, Mattias Svanberg’s goalscoring exploits at Malmö had produced quite the highlight reel, and the midfielder was linked with some of Europe’s biggest clubs well in advance of his 2018 Bologna move.
It has been a quiet start to life in Emilia-Romagna for Svanberg, who Siniša Mihajlović has played predominantly through the centre. However, Svanberg’s involvement in Sweden’s 3-0 win against the Faroe Islands, in which he made his debut alongside Kulusevski, marked him out as one to watch in Andersson’s side, as he followed a rocket from long range with a clever corner to assist John Guidetti.
While Svanberg’s current central role for Bologna will develop his comparatively raw defensive game, the 6’1’’ playmaker also has the physicality and engine to operate more directly on the flanks. When he returns from his current thigh strain, it will be intriguing to see if Svanberg can accumulate some form to state his case for a Euros start.